Sunday, November 29, 2009

Another annoying dissection

Some unattractive event involving a spleen.

Our next patient is duct taped wide eyed to the gurney and yammering something about going home, and its mother, lets operate, and quickly, before it gets away!

Here is the piece as it was sent to me. Its a nice piece of work, done by a practiced artist with a real feeling of truth to it. I had a few little changes I felt like making and I resected its abdomen in photoshop and came up with this.

Here is what I did and why.With bullets, even were they not called bullets, I might still use them, it does give a well informed look to my writing.

  • Like I did with another piece this week I cropped the image on the right a little. That had several benefits, but mostly it got that tree out of the middle of the painting and off to one side. I felt that looked better, less static.
  • I cropped the bottom too, but for a different reason. I like to throw the "footlights" of a painting out a little further than the first image did. It is difficult to paint everything from your toes to the zenith. The reason for this is that it makes the viewer feel as if they need to move their head on its stalk in order to perceive all of the image. When they feel that way it is hard to keep them believing. It is something to watch out for on the horizontal axis too, although less so. Again it is easily done, the luminist painters did it a lot, but you have to be aware of what you are up to and account for it.
  • Cropping the image did tighten up to the best part of the painting and I feel like I closed in a the story and eliminated some non essential stuff. It is a tighter story now.
  • I worked on the tree branches a bit. I removed a couple that just ended on the left hand side. They were no doubt actually like that but I think they looked kind of amputated. They cause the viewer to hesitate, what happened to them? Lets not give that viewer a reason to reject our picture, shall we?
  • I upholstered the branches of the left hand tree and the one in the middle of the painting with the fine haze like twigs which often occur against the sky this time of year. I also threw in some little dry leaves that the wind left on those branches. I like to do that because it gives a decorative look to those situations and allows me some accents and implied detail.
  • I removed a fence post and some branches that were clawing their way in on the right. I felt the area would be better if it was "decluttered".
  • In the middle distance I mixed things up a little more. I dropped some notes recalling bare branches over that blue and I toned the whole blue passage down. I also made that group of trees a little more important.
  • Lastly I straightened out that back field where it met the tree line. It seemed concave. Concave lines are generally to be avoided in landscape, the earth tends to be formed out of bulges, convex lines. Concave lines give a sickly look to a landscape.
The snow camp workshop is full. Several people e-mailed me at one time or another saying that January is not so good for them. Is any one out there interested in a February snow painting workshop at the same inn? Please e-mail me at and let me know.


willek said...

Stape, you are at your best doing this kind of critique. Again, it is your reasons for the changes that are so informative. Great post.

elijebrg said...

"yammering something about going home, and its mother"
Sentimental manure is at least good foddor for the blog, eh? Thats a good sharp scalpel you got there.... Nice critique.

billspaintingmn said...

Stape, I'm fallowing you.
I liked the first painting to begin with, so I stoped and wondered what & why before I saw what you changed.
When I saw what & why, it reminded
me of how a chef trims a steak to be cooked and presented.
(it's all good, but now even better.)

CM said...

Lori Woodward suggested I read your blog and I am so glad she did. I have now read every single one. (It took a few weeks!) I can't tell you how much I have enjoyed and learned from it. The Art History lessons, the Critiques and the wonderful autobiography not to mention your views on so many marketing issues. You have a wealth of knowledge and I am so grateful to you for sharing it.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thank you. Will work for comments.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thank you. I try to keep an upbeat and whimsical sort of feel to the blog.I want everyone to feel comfortable here.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Maybe I need one of those chef's hats.I can make garters out of all that leftover fat.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thank you. I always wonder what it would take to read it all. A herculean effort. There is a whole lot of it now.
It is flattering to have Lori recommending me.

Anonymous said...

I am wondering how you added the haze to those branches--looks great but hard to tell how it was done-(maybe that's the secret of looking good?) Is it a darker sky color, lighter branch color? How do you get it to look so soft--brush stroke? what kind.

Thanks for the memory drawing post, am still practicing and I think it really helps. Judy W

Stapleton Kearns said...

I did it in this instance with a brush tool set on about 25% opacity and cloned a note from the bushes nearby. I then used that over the existing sky.
I know zip about photoshop so that is probably the fools way of doing it.

With a brush in paint I mix a very light note that looks about right and gently pull it over the freshly painted sky. Then I hit a few sky notes back into it.

Love2paint said...

Just a bit of advice on changing the actual painting, not in Photoshop; for the feathered look around the trees, I use a fan brush on backgrounds, it drags just the right amount of lighter value paint off the top and feathers it out, softens edges and adds delicate touches of color into the next area. In your case, I would add some lighter value brush strokes around the branches and then fan it out. Be very careful with the fan brush, use a light hand and only in some areas that need to look like they dissolve into the background sky, not all over the place. Although I have used it in areas where I added a different shade in a large dark shadow shape for variation and then blended it with the fan brush. I use a vintage, dog eared fan brush, not those newer stiff ones. They can leave undesirable tooth marks and change the value of the shadow.