Friday, December 17, 2010

Stape attacks the Irish

I was sent the image above for a critique. It is a charming little painting of an Irish cottage. I felt I could throw a few changes at it though. Below is my "improved" version and then below that, with lovely little bullets, are my explanations of what I did and why.

  • The tree was way too complicated. If you put too many branches on a tree, even if they are really there, it looks like an octopus. So I pruned it hard. I also dropped the value of most of it. That puts it into an upright plane. I wanted it's value to be below the highest notes in the grass, The grass is taking a direct light , more than the the tree would receive. I did spot some high lit areas into the tree to make the branches twist a little bit.
  • I reworked the shadows on the ground to make them lie down better. I also threw some spots of sunlight in there and varied the color some. It seemed too colored so I added some graver notes to make it more complex. I also divided the amount of grass in the light and shadow less evenly. Half and half is less effective than an unequal amount of both. That gives more variety of shape.
  • I softened up the path, a lot. Losing the edges of a path tie it better into the landscape and make it more a part of the ground, rather than looking pasted on to the ground.
  • The roof was painted in a value that said shadow. I pulled it into the light, as it faces up. I toned down the overly assertive red door while I was in there. I established a little more light and shadow on the front of the house and lightened up the heavy shadow under the eaves.
  • Lastly I simplified the shrubbery behind and to the left of the house. It had too much going on in it.


Anonymous said...

Dear Stape, Nice job on the ground plane with the light and shadow pattern. Tree on left as well, big improvement. I liked the richness of the roof before, however and the tree on the right looks odd, too stylized. Placment of house dead center too even, uninteresting. Still, these critiques are so valuable. Makes me think and revive what I know but sometimes forget.

Unknown said...

You are getting pretty good at painting in gummy worms.

It's amazing how we think we know this stuff, and still make some of the same mistakes again. Maybe we need a large bulleted list hanging by the easel.

Marian, thanks. My fingers work fine, thankfully. Shoulder is immobilized. I am going stir crazy.

Lyn A said...

Is it just me, or does the green shrubbery on the roof of the cottage in both paintings look a bit like a large leafy animal climbing over to the other side of the house? Somehow, it is too rounded and takes on the appearance of something more or less alive. Also, it's placement in the center tends to draw the eye to it. Maybe some gaps in it somewhere or some roof peeking through might make it less "alive"??

Jo-Ann Sanborn said...

I'm addicted to morning coffee with Stape where there's always a wonderful dose of lessons and laughter. Thanks, all!

ATOM said...

Nice painting, I prefer the original version's grass and lighting,but your tree on the left is a big improvement.You just went over it quickly in photoshop I'm guessing?

Antonin Passemard said...

That is impressive the original was charming but looked artificial. Your version looks like you painted it outside !

Cynthia Hillis McBride said...

I'm with Lyn on the alien invasion of green on the roof. Whatever it is supposed to be is not working for me, and the central location destroys the balance of the composition. Perhaps making it a bit smaller and moving it more to the left would quell my uneasiness.

billspaintingmn said...

Technically, I would never attack the Irish.
I can appreciate the challenge to make a better painting. There is a charm, or honest attempt in some things that is as much of the art as the brush strokes.
(I would have put a pot of gold under that tree though..)

Pam Holnback said...

So helpful to see the before and after and to read your whys.

willek said...

Very informative critique. The job on the tree was very helpful. Thanks,Stape.

Diane Hoeptner said...

Brilliant lesson, thanks very much. I loved the first one and I wouldn't have thought to keep tweaking. But after reading and really looking, wow! Sweet improvement.

Mark Heng said...

Excellent critique, Stape! I especially appreciate the notes on controlling the values to signify planar direction. And I like how you handled the light on the grass. Tricky!

Stapleton Kearns said...

I chose to only rework several areas of the painting. I am traveling and that was what I could do. I agree with you on both counts.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Hope you are recovering. Have you received your new paint yet?

Stapleton Kearns said...

I am not hip enough to photoshop express to move that house. Is one of you reading this is e-mail it back to me with the house about a third the way to the right. I will buff up the image.

Stapleton Kearns said...


Stapleton Kearns said...

Yes you guessed right.

Stapleton Kearns said...


Stapleton Kearns said...

I would don that if I knew how. I am not very photoshop savvy.

Stapleton Kearns said...

It is a real painting and not a copy of a photo. A nice honest effort. That always shines through.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I am used, therefore I am useful, again.

Stapleton Kearns said...

That is pretty much what I did to the painting.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Others think I should have kept going on it.

Stapleton Kearns said...


Mary Sonya conti said...

so value your criques. Would it be possible to put the two pieces side by side?