Monday, November 30, 2009

Compose: Pulling it all together

There's so much to attend to as you paint ! The wise artist is planning from the beginning and referencing that plan as the project develops. I am not always wise and often work myself into corners that require quite a bit of digging to get out of. My strength usually lies in subject selection and making the painting say what I want. Even that is a problem with Daylilies; I seem to have fallen down with every aspect. This is my last Compose post for awhile and I will try to pull the painting together.

There is good, overall movement in the classic s shape of the composition. The large open flower as the centre of interest in believable, but it could be advanced more in the picture plane (probably by making the flower below/behind it recede.

I think most of the problems lie in the upper right section. I need to sink the flower in this section back beyond the open lily. The stem is much too pronounced and needs to recede too. I've drawn even more attention to this problem by having the leaves form an x. What was I thinking? Obviously I wasn't! I need to tidy up this whole corner. The other area that is unfinished is the lower left where the red blob is located. It's not formed.

Now for the grayscale which effectively pinpoints any difficulties with values. My usual problem is evident - not enough darks, too many midtones. I am just not a dramatic painter. I plan to darken the lower left corner more. The leaf tip in the upper left is also too bright. Creating a 4 value scale of this painting in the beginning would have saved me a lot of problems!

Onward to the most difficult aspect - my conflict about what I am trying to say. As I pointed out in the second post in this series, this is an issue and probably accounts for why I'm struggling with the painting.

From my second post:
What part of the subject should be emphasized to maximize the emotion /impression?

The colour, elegance, structure and their freedom are easy to emphasize. I am not capturing the transience that is so important to my perception of them. Perhaps I need to refocus and paint one or two obviously withered ones, but I also need to somehow portray the melancholy I feel about these flowers. That is very subtle and right now I'm at a loss about how to show it. I'll keep going with the questions/suggestions ...

My answer to me:
You can't say everything in one painting. Focus on the colour, elegance, structure and freedom of the flowers. Transience is well represented in other works in the series.

I hope to have 18 paintings in this exhibition and each one represents at least one aspect of my reading of this particular garden. It's time I created a carefree, happy atmosphere. I am too attracted to melancholy !

Now off to the studio to start making corrections. I may find more are necessary once I dig in. I'll post the final painting with the corrections later.


-Don said...

I agree with most of your points on this, especially the ones on value. As I was studying this I realized that the upward movement of the flowers thru the composition gives it a subtle transient feel. I had the sudden thought that if the uppermost flower was beginning to wilt you would actually be telling a melancholy story because my eye starts at the young flowers at the bottom, flows up thru the teenage flowers, into the fully matured flower and then up to that final flower. I think you're closer to realizing your intent than you know.

The only thing that really keeps my eye from continuing its journey thru this composition is the leaf that arches across behind the uppermost bud and flower. I find it distracting for three reasons: 1) the "x" that you mentioned, 2) It's value and chroma are too strong, 3) It is the only leaf with this strong of an arch in the entire image.

Thank you for sharing in this journey and I look forward to seeing your resolution. Happy Painting!


Margaret Ryall said...

There's nothing like fresh eyes when offering a critique. It was not my conscious intent to have this age progression through the painting. Maybe I can make a case for intuition over cognition. You have come up with a clever solution to my dilemma. I'm feeling very positive about resolving this painting now.

Kathy said...

Margaret, This is a good self-critique and I also agree with Don's comments. Yes, you could work on the values, but you could also move in another direction. You've designed a myriad of interlocking interesting shapes. What if the different hues were all the same value? This could be very effective and quite different from other paintings on that use the same subject. I think it was Jasper Johns who said "take something, do something with it, and then do something else with it." (or something to that effect. Maybe one of the problems is that this painting isn't derived enough. Some of your other work is, and is effective because of it.
Just a thought ....

hwfarber said...

This is so educational. Don's comments made me look at the painting again and agree with him. Kathy's comments made me look again and agree with her. I might be tempted to place that arching leaf in front of the flower that's grabbing too much attention (and I have no rational explanation for my thinking).

The Artist Within Us said...

I am truly fascinated with your blog!

I honestly wish i had more time this evening to devote to it, but after almost eight hours of driving non-stop, I find myself on the road in another town and with limited internet connection.

If memory serves me correctly, you posted about turning a colour image into a greyscale image within Photoshop using the greyscale feature.

Allow me to raise the alarm bells!

The system works to a certain extent, as it takes the RGB, Red-Green-Blue and divides them up equally among each other, therefore you get a greyscale that is even.

As a photographer, we avoid greyscale as the world is not 33-33-33%, rather we use channel mixer.

We have the option of 33-33-33% each, but try 65-00-35, then 35-00-65; even 35-65-00 and so on. See what your results are.

Also look at each channel individually at 100% to see the various areas of strength and weakness, then set the number accordingly.

Notice how the painting changes and how different from a 33-33-33% spread!

The 65-35 ratio is only a starting point, remember you can also go, as an example 25-45-30, any combination to 100.

Have I made a simple click of the mouse to greyscale now more confusing?

Best wishes,

Margaret Ryall said...

My readers are astounding me. Just when I think I have it all figured out you set me on my ear!

Egmont, if you only knew how technologically illiterate I am you would chuckle. I shall have to re-read your post several times and see where it leads me. Your information is valuable; I had no idea a simple grayscale could be this complex. In the past I've scanned a photo of my painting and printed it on my black and white lazer printer. Do the same rules apply?

Margaret Ryall said...

You've proposed a very interesting idea about using consistent values throughout. I've actually tried this in the past. It produces a painting that has no depth and the natural is reduced to the decorative. It becomes almost wallpaperish. Of course, I've tried it because I am very interested in the Pattern and Decoration movement and love the work of Robert Kuchner.

This painting is troubling me because it is more reflective of my earlier work and doesn't measure up to other paintings I've created in this series. I can fix it in terms of the basic design concerns I've listed but it will still be a "simple" painting. You've hit the nail on the head as usual. More thinking to come.

I'm with you on the leaf position. After I wrote the post last evening. I looked at the work in grayscale again and realized that moving the leaf would be another way to set the flower back. With all this good advice this painting will end up as a shared experience. I'll feel guilty signing my name to it.

The Artist Within Us said...

Margaret, to answer your question regarding the laser printer, I am now walking into a grey area, excuse the pun.

A laser printer has limited display functions, meaning that your monitor, depending on its settings, sees millions of colours or same numbers of grey. A printer can only render a much smaller portion, say 256 levels on the high end. When compared to an ink jet printer, (again note costs versus high end models) has a far greater capacity to render what you see on your computer.

In the end, viewing your print out, regardless of its output source, only you the viewer can determine the value that the print is offering for the decisions you are trying to make from it.

Blue Sky Dreaming said...

I'm dizzy! Great comments and wonderful theories and plans...I'll stay close and see how it develops.
I'm planning on starting large soft pastel abstracts and was considering painting in gray scale but maybe I'll use the base colors and then photograph and place it in the grayscale on my computer for adjustments before I get out the pastels. Oh, the plans we make in the name of art making!
Good luck with your series!