Niagara Falls by Church, study

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  1. #1
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    Niagara Falls by Church, study

    I'm trying to work from this painting of Niagara Falls by Frederick Church; http://www.googleartproject.com/gall...4695/24912018/

    I'm focusing right now on just the water. I'm looking at the foreground waterfall, close up. Trying to look at how he makes it. But I just can't. I can't even copy it.
    It looks so real, but so random. It isn't structured at all. I can't break it down. This is why I hate doing observational studies. It isn't the idea of drawing and painting basic objects, which can be broken down into shapes. It is all the details that really make things look nice that I just can't get. So I've tried about 3 different approaches and haven't gotten anything remotely similar to his look. And I'm looking right at it! How could I not be able to copy what I am looking at? Is that even normal, or do I just have some visual deficiency?

    I'm more of a beginner than anything else,
    but I figure if I can't even put down what I see I'm not going to improve.

    EDIT: Not to mention the color and lighting!

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  3. #2
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    We need to see some of your work. How much of a beginner are you? If you are even a quick learning somewhat experienced beginner then this is a horrible place to start learning. Way too advance. Learning is a lot about choosing the right steps and the right pace.

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    But, why can't I see the details? Will my sight improve somehow? I mean, it is one thing to not be able to draw or paint something as a beginner, but the information in this case is right in front of my eyes, and I can't really see it somehow.

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  6. #4
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    Natural forms like clouds, rocks, foliage, waves, etc, are much more a matter of understanding the texture and rhythms than accurately copying. After all, do you think Church was copying the actual spray? Of course not, such a thing was impossible in the days before high-speed photography, and just as inadvisable now. You can't copy it because you don't understand it, and you don't understand it becasue it's hard, and you're "more of a beginner more than anything else." So, back up and pick somethign more straightforward to work from for now.


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    OK, thanks everybody. Back to basic object studies I guess.

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    Have you ever looked at that painting in real life? I have; its in Edinburgh Scotland at the museum there. Its huge, 8.5 feet by 7 feet. The reason you can't copy it is the scale obscures the method. Look at his sketches, its much easier to see how he works and much easier to understand the process. Painting like him is another order of magnitude though.
    http://www.amazon.com/Oil-Sketches-F.../dp/0874748887

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  11. #7
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    As bcarman said, please start a sketchbook thread and post some of your work. You'll get much good advice from some very accomplished artists on this board, but they'll have to see your work first.

    In the meantime, something that may be of use in learning to draw water is to draw glass objects (from direct observation, not reference photos).

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    OK.
    Thanks guys.

    Yeah, I'll probably start a sketchbook eventually.
    I really don't feel comfortable with showing what I currently have.
    I probably won't ever feel very comfortable showing some of the masters on here, but I'll try within the next couple months. Right now it is finals week and I will be busy studying other things. After that I should have more time.

    Thanks

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    Yeah...it's been said but this is not the place, or method to start. It's like you picked up a guitar and are trying to play Stairway to Heaven..."I can hear Jimmy's notes! I can hear him play! Why can't I play like him?". Anyway...just another way to look at it.

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