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This is likely to take a while, I'm replacing all our windows and redoing the kitchen this summer. So I may not respond with updates that frequently. Having said that, I always appreciate any critique and I read all of it.
So what we have here is my frankenstein approach to creating a "reference photo" for an acrylic painting. I'll want to follow the reference photo as closely as I can manage, so I want it to read believably as an image that also evokes an emotional response. I have a fondness for ambiguity and enigmatic women.
I started with 2 or 3 tiny sketches created during a staff meeting at work (!), then the 1st sketch in photoshop here. I figured out a few poses and clothes ideas I liked then hunted though my stock photos for something close (I think there are bits of 4 seperate photos in the figure), and some of my own photos for the background, probably bits of 4 or 5 photos there.
So before I sketch this out for transfer onto my paper, I would really appreciate some feedback on the composition, lighting, etc.
As always, thank you.
Last edited by justa; July 1st, 2011 at 10:32 PM.
The big problem with piecing together photos like this is the inconsistent lighting. I'm assuming the bottom image is the one you want to paint from? So that's the one I'll comment on.
Understanding that this is just going to be a reference for your painting:
its hard to tell where the light is coming from. Where is she is in relation to the white tree, is she beside it or in front of it. I thought at first she was behind it but the tree she's holding is in front of one of the branches so I'm not sure.
The white tree stands out too much from the red background without any links between the two. Add hints of white to the background or hints of red to the tree to tie them together. Right now they are too visually seperate.
Personally, if it was me, I'd thin down the white tree so you could see the red background on its left side- it would still work as a framing device and wouldn't dominate the composition so much- and have her leaning against that tree or a staff instead of another smaller tree.
Also right now, it reads like a girl in the woods at dusk. If your title didn't say she was a witch I never would have thought that. If you want ambiguity you need to add more mystery to your main character. I like the hood better. Not the whole monk robe, but maybe just a hooded cloak over her dress?
Anyway, if it was my painting that is what I would do. Take or leave it as you wish. Sorry for the long, critical post. Good luck with your painting!
The most beautiful thing we can experience is the
mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all
science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who
can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe,
is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.
Hey D'Arcy - you've been backin me up a lot lately which I appreciate, so I thought I'd share my thoughts.
There is a pretty strong light source from upper left raking down - but that isn't happening on the figure - check the cast shadow from her nose - going opposite the lightsource. Accurate lighting is going to be the main problem, and strongest mood-setting aspect of the piece so make sure it works.
Really strong tangents - between the main tree and edge of frame - and between the figure and main tree.
Her head seems kinda squished - and her hair should be blowing much more - like the dress. If you don't mind a suggestion I would do more hair and wrap it/tangle it into the branches a bit...like she's part of teh woods or something...IDK.
That "staff" is a bit massive - especially going off the top...I would take that down to a more "standard" size...right now it looks like she's gathering firewood.
Just my two cents - good luck with it - looking forward to the next update!
Last edited by JeffX99; July 7th, 2011 at 11:16 PM.
I think your first sketch is the best one you made... the composition is good, and some points are already resolved... if I was you, I were going to develop it...
This is why I like critique (well, perhaps "like" is too strong a word..). But I really appreciate it. I probably don't agree with everything said but you guys are dead on about the lighting and composition issues. I'll post adjustments as soon as I have some time to work on it again. Just wanted to say thanks for the thoughts.
just a quick update, this is my 1st adjustment after reading the advice above. It is very rough, and I haven't incorporated all the advice yet but I kind of liked where it was going (it's also after midnight and I'm wiped). If people think it's an improvement, I'll refine it further, esp the various shadows to put her more closely in relation to the tree etc.
A small update at last, got into a funk and did nothing but drift aimlessly for a while. I think this is what I will go with as my "reference photo" unless there are horrible things wrong with it. I think I managed to address the issue of tangents and lighting to some degree, and if I don't copy this to paper soon and get painting it'll never get done. Your comments are welcome as always.
Looking good so far, following williams73's advice I would like it if you darken the bottom part of the leftmost tree more, and highlight the right end of her dress a bit more
I just noticed how the tree closely (and exactly) follows the curve of her body, and then the branch wraps around her head. I haven't noticed it in the color sketches, but in the pencil one it looks somewhat strange. I don't know if that's what you were going for, so I'm pointing it out.
Smexy! I think her head seems a little small, but I think if you pump up the volume of the hair that should take care of that problem.
Thanks for the comments! Yes, the branches were deliberate (not just the main tree). I wanted that entangled feel to her and the trees so there are a lot of repeating lines and shapes. And 3ureka you are probably right about the hair, but that will be an easy adjustment once I get going.
Here is a long overdue update on my woods witch; I was completely frozen for a couple of months, didn't even touch it. I'm a perfectionist, and I always feel I'm working right up on the edge of my competency so I end up overwhelmed because I can't make it look like I want it to. So here is my update, it is the best I can do right now and I think I have to accept that.
The colors are not quite right (it's duller than the original) - I think my scanner really hates napthol red...
C+C appreciated as always
Hi, Justa! It's looking pretty good so far. The color looks really nice. Did you crop the actual painting or is that just a detail shot? I'd be interested in seeing the whole piece to do a better critique. I'm liking the shape of the gnarled tree and the bark textures.
From what you've shown, though, the main issue that jumps out at me is that there is still not enough skull. In reality, it may be that the features are too big and the eyes too high. I say that, because adding more skull may make the head look too big. The overall form of the head is also rather flat. The features look as if they've just been pasted on. You should try contructing it out of solids, so the eyes, nose etc. feel as if they sit in space. The hands are suffering from the same problem. They look better in your line drawing, but you're starting to lose some of their structure in the painting. Hope that helps in some way.
"Contrary to the belief of the layman, the essential of art is not to imitate nature, but under the guise of imitation to stir up excitement with pure plastic elements: measurements, directions, ornaments, lights, values, colors, substances, divided and organized according to the injunctions of natural laws. While so occupied, the artist never ceases to be subservient to nature, but instead of imitating the incidents in a paltry way, he imitates the laws."-Andre Lhote
Web, FineArt, Sketchbook
Yes it is a crop, using my scanner. I'll try my wife's camera in daylight to see if I can get the whole image in there.
The flatness is in part because the only things close to done are the dress and tree bark, the face and arms just have some burnt umber on there so I don't lose the line drawing. Re the skull you are no doubt right, my reference photo had a hat on so I probably misjudged the top of the skull as well. I waffled with it for ages, so I'm blind to the errors right now. I'll have to bring it into photoshop and fiddle again to see if I can get it right. Argh.
Thank you so much for your help!
My english is bad but I try to explain something about tehnique (oil painting)
you keep in mind 3 essential thing for every painting
consistecy of light, shadow and color. To resolve problems with light and shadow simply start paint with only one color. Your first mistake: you chose very hard tonality to start paint, red color. The old masters use umbra or dark brown color for paint first layer. In this layer you can only the darken, light is uncovered canvas or background. Paint with small amount of color to get best results for light and shadow. The next layer is a gray scale painting. In this stage you resolve middle tones. Choose gray tonality for paint, if you want to your paintings look red add small amount of red in gray colour but only very small amount becouse some part of gray layer will be visible in final look. This parts are sky reflections or middle tones between light and shadow. In every step you must keep whole painting covered with paint and avoid small details or texture. I see you already reseolve the details of tree but your background is almost intact. Paint like that you loose sense for light and distance. For every step you add more light or more shadows light is never pure white or shadow is never pure black always leave space for adding more. At last you will may add colour in your painting and resolve small details or texture.
Keep practise and best regards