Thursday, November 19, 2009

Compose: Critique to learn

There was a time when I created credible landscapes using good instincts and not a lot of knowledge. This work called "Summer Fire" created early in my career , was based on a view from my art teacher's house window. I love fireweed in summer because it creates such a blast of colour in the environment. I wanted to capture this energy in the painting.

Using your understanding of shapes and how they are used in composing, critique this composition. The next post will summarize what I have learned since I created this work and I will suggest how I think it could be improved.


Kathy said...

Wow, Margaret, you chose a tough one to critique. I guess the best place to start it to look at the shapes in terms of massing: trees, grasses, flowers, water, cliffs, sky. There is a pleasant repetition of shapes that are linear running nearly horizontally across the picture field in the upper half. The lower half shapes run more on the diagonal. If I had to improve the painting, I'd emphasize the diagonal orientation of the shapes and either minimalize or eliminate most of the horizontals. The linear mass of land across the water in the distance is very distracting. My eye runs to it and wants to stay there, but the brilliant purple flowers bring me back. I guess I'd eliminate that strong value contrast between the sea/linear landmass/sky so that they are similar in value and recede. That would keep my eye in the foreground where the "action is." Also, I'd vary the shape of the purple flowers more. The edges of the shapes are "active" in most of the painting. That kind of dominance is OK, but I think it's a little too much here. Simplification would help a great deal. Just my two cents. I know you've got a much better solution! Whew! quite a challenge :)

-Don said...

Yeah. What Kathy said...

Just kidding. Actually I do agree with Kathy. One thing I would add is that the mass of trees to the right creates two tangents which draw my eye. One is how the mass of the trees merge into the land mass on the horizon. I think if you lightened the land mass back there this would not be as much an issue. The other is how the top of the solo tree near the right edge "rests" on the horizon line of the water. The wonderful energy created by the brush strokes and color going from lower left to middle right pushes my eyes there where they then they get caught.

With all that said, I love the colors in this. Those magentas and yellow greens are spectacular. The touches of bright blue-green are nice as well.

Oh, BTW, I squinted... ;-)


layers said...

Margaret, we have been on the same path-- early in my 'career' I also painted landscapes - in transparent watercolor-- I have written several magazine articles on my transitions and give a slide talk to art groups and in my workshops-- we have both come a long way..

hwfarber said...

I'm still an instinct or by accident painter (IOBA, I guess). When I squint with my old eyes, I see the yellow/green area--not the fireweed--and I find the details in the water and sky distracting. My comments have very little to do with shapes so you're the teacher in this case. I anxiously await your learned thoughts.