I chose the Island of the Dead by Arnold Böcklin (I believe this is version IV of the series). It's one of my favourite paintings. I love the subtleness and simplicity of the piece.
The first thing I noticed about the composition is that it's really just 4 big rectangle masses. There's the sky - the ocean, the island as a lying rectangle and the trees as a standing rectangle. The emphasis is on the figure in the foreground standing on the boat. The area is naturally framed by the surrounding island masses, and the high contrast created by the white against the really dark draws the eye. We immediately know this piece is about the arrival of the figure.
Böcklin uses great echonomy to show this - letting the ocean and the sky be big and simple areas.
What also stands out to me is that there are only a few basic shapes in the image but they are used with great variety and repetition. The rectangle is used to create depth and add visual weight to the piece. The standing figure has a shape that is repeated in the trees, and there's oval shapes in the rocks repeated throughout the island.
There's also interesting rhythm going on. Long horisontal lines creates the foundation for the piece and then there's long vertical lines cutting the piece in half. This cross is broken up by a zig-zag rhythm going from left to right. The piece wouldn't be the same if the treetops had the same height.
I had a great time doing the study. It's been a long time since I did someting like this. It was a struggle to focus on the big areas first, because I found myself wanting to keep on working in detail on some areas before I had established the whole.
I'll definitely do more!! aiming for those 20 studies at least!
yep...super good work. I think you are on the right track and other than just taking more time to add more detail...for a short study I am not sure I have much to add other than maybe check your background area as yours has a long horizontal on the left side when the original does not... other than I am looking forward to seeing more from you.
Sadly no painting yesterday. Got busy with other stuff, but managed to sneak in 30 minutes during my lunchbreak today
"The Beautiful Woman Without Mercy" by Waterhouse.
I adore the work of Waterhouse. He is one of my absolute favourites. The way he tells his stories and portrays his characters through composition and colour.. so poetic.
In colour this piece is stunning. I was surprised to see how the piece changed as I turned it into gray. The emphasis is on the interaction between the two characters in the piece and that's also where the highest contrast is. The characters create a solid pyramid shape which gives the piece a nice weight and balance to it.
The piece is made up of 3 big masses. The central mass with created by the characters, a foreground mass and a background mass. Waterhouse breaks them up with small shapes. There are some white flowers and a tree in the foreground that create an interesting rhythm. I saved those details for last, and while I was painting it I felt that something was missing. It felt too static. Just big lumps of gray. But as I painted in the flowers I realized how they really help the piece. At first I thought they were noisy details, but after observing I understand them differently.
The flowers are repeated through out the piece in a zigzag fashion creating rhythm. Waterhouse also breaks up the background in segments with vertical shapes - leaving one area darker and another lighter. The repetition feels unnatural at first, since the distance between trees usually is more sporadic, but I feel it helps to break up the pyramid composition. If the background was more busy we wouldn't be focusing on the characters as much.
It's also interesting how all the diagonals seem to be point down towards the sitting lady but without putting her in a vulnerable position.
Really excellent observations. My only stand out impression crit wise is that the dark under the knight's head is a bit of a big dark shape in yours and is less so in the original. Seems you got quite a bit out of this study. I look forward to seeing where these take you.
When I do these I work very zoomed out so I can focus on the big shapes. Once the time is out I zoom in and notice all the small subtle details and I'm like.. damn, I should have put that in too. So far I find these studies very helpful, especially in one particular area. I'm forced to identify the area of emphasis and focus on it. It's often difficult for me to focus on the area of emphasis.. I don't really know why. Maybe because I'm afraid to mess it up so I find all kinds of excuses to doodle in on the surrounding areas. This helps me to face that.
There are big rhythms in the piece created by the bending trees - A big S-curve going from the foot of the tree to the right up across the center of the piece, and a C-curve going from the top left down to the central figure. Emphasis is on the woman sitting behind the trees.
There's a secondary emphasis on the angelic figures in the background. Mucha uses values in a echonomic way to create a big open space, but at the same time he breaks the space with a variety of shapes and lines to make it interesting to look at.
I feel I should have spent some time on indicating the background elements since they are important for the piece.