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Great to be doing this! Fantastic opportunity for improvement
It was a very challenging beginning for me. I hope these were alright for my first studies. They were completed in Photoshop. For future studies it will be by pencil or paint as my WACOM just died
Artist: William Bouguereau
I chose this image for its powerful emphasis on composition. I learned quite a lot about how to balance values throughout the scene when the scene is so focused on the subjects. Some paintings give the viewer space to identify what is happening. With this painting it was so full of activity it can be hard for the eyes to settle. However, I believe the artist did a fantastic job in controlling the chaos. Most of the angels are pushed back using midtones. He has controlled how a viewer looks around the painting through subtle means of lighting. Whether it be an angels arm being lit more than the others around it, or the way the darkest darks are contrasted with the lightest lights.
I have also noticed that an object is used to 'balance' the weight of the paintings values in the bottom right. This is a very important tool to use. In my next study you will see the same being used to make a sort of asymmetrical symmetry to the painting. I have tried to employ this technique in my own little thumbnails and it works! It really gives the picture a certain feel that would feel 'wrong' without it.
One other thing I have noticed about this painting is the dancing with values. The darkest darks and the lightest lights seem to 'take turns'. This begins with the lightest lights being where you need the focus to be, and then its the darks, and then the lights again for the secondary focus.... etc etc...
Artist: Pierre-Auguste Cot
This painting was chosen for its beautiful choice of colour/saturation. So it was funny to use it when I desaturated the one thing that attracted me to the piece! But what I found while studying this painting was that this piece centered on these two lovers and wanted the viewer to feel calm and focused on these two people. The way the artist did this was to employ economization. If you look at the painting carefully, most details are just blocked in shapes. Even the main focus, the girls face, is very very simple. I believe the lack of details gives the painting a sombre feel. He has intentionally given this romantic painting a feeling of calm.
I have also noticed many repeated elements within this painting. This includes the rope, trees and the foliage. The peoples legs are also repeated in the same direction and shape.
This artist employs the same technique as Bouguereau. But with this one the woman has really intense light, the man has a midtone and the environment is darkest darks and midtones. He has focused the most intense light in one spot to make sure the viewer rests their eyes there. That is not to say the other light values are not also quite bright. It just brings the viewer back to the main focus once they have 'traveled' the piece.
-- For my next paintings they will either be thumbnails or actual paintings in acrilic or oil. I could cry with my 8 year old intuos3 dying!
Until next time.
Sorry to hear your wacom died on you!
You're on a good start with your first study. Your analysis of each piece is very informative, great stuff.
For the second study, the light might need to be brighter on the man's arm. I'm not sure about the woman's indicated face. Maybe using a flat shade or just indicating the light itself hitting would work better for the woman's face. The smiley face is cute but at the same time, perosnally, I found it to distract a little from the actual study (it came off as whimsical).
I'd love to see what you do with acrylic or oil.
Great job with your values on that top piece. the second one is not as close, but no doubt with a little more time you could get there. If we can get your shapes a bit more accurate, and your detail suggestion a bit closer to the original we would see a big improvement in quality. great job though and hopefully you are back at it soon.
Thank you for the comments. I'm not used to painting so fast to try and get as much down as quick as possible. I am glad the first one was better as it was really my 'second' painting. I just posted them the wrong way around.
I am waiting for my boards to dry, so in the meantime here are some thumbnails of a few paintings. I do not have the titles or artists involved. I have noticed they follow the same principles as the previous studies I made.
Right guys I've done it! I've painted with acrylics
Not quite playing card sized. The actual size looks more like an A4 piece of paper. Couldn't go any smaller due to the difficulty in controlling the medium.
Artist: John William Waterhouse
Oil on canvas
102 x 61 cm
(40.16" x 24.02")
Ophelia sits by the edge of the river tormented by a deep sadness. She is putting flowers in her hair preparing herself for suicide. The story of Ophelia derives from Shakespeare's play Hamlet. Hamlet, Ophelia's love and betrothed, rejects Ophelia and orders her to a nunnery because he is obsessed with revenge against his uncle, who he knows murdered his own father, and married his mother in order to become king. Hamlet's bizarre behavior, which she does not understand, drives Ophelia mad, causing her to throw herself into a river, singing as she drowns. This painting portrays Ophelia and her story beautifully. Waterhouse has truly captured the way she might have looked before her suicide, her gazing out at nothing, entranced in thought, mindlessly placing flowers in her hair, driven crazy from grief. Peter Trippi quoted that "the Art Journal noted her wistful-sad look' and observed that, never can this beautiful creature, troubled with emotion, experience the joys of womanhood'" Hamlet having never actually slept with her. This painting is often compared to John Everett Millais' Ophelia in which she is floating already dead in the water. Millais' Ophelia was painted from 1851-1852.
-- Kara Ross REFERENCE
Rhythm can be found throughout the piece. The graceful gesture from Ophelia placing the flowers in her hair, to the flora surrounding her being placed in specific ways to enhance the melodic feel to the piece.
The emphasis is clearly her soft face. I was unable to capture this in my painting, but Waterhouse has captured the serene moment perfectly. It then draws your attention to her dress and then finally the white flowers allows the eyes to travel around the piece. I see using small intense elements like this helps the eyes see more than just the main emphasis.
The balance in this piece is created like a jigsaw. The waterlilies break up the background and help pull out Ophelia. The background is left almost in mid tones, with a sprinkling of darks. The forground has lighter mid tones. Ophelia is very bright with a darker parts to break up the brightness. Whereas some pieces try to balance tone using lots of dark and then lots of light, this piece draws heavily on the mid tone and brings out patches of light and dark.
Thehas been a lot of variety in the types of plants and shapes used. Although it may not be so clear in the monotone piece, Ophelia has intricate patterns on her dress and different coloured flowers in her hair.
The background may seem complex to begin with, but really its only patches of tone. The main details come from the dress, leaving everything else in solid shapes.
Lots of repetition in the folds of the dress. The jewels on her dress also have a repeated pattern. The flora has many repeated shapes and arranged in a gestural way. The repeated flower design helps the eye travel the piece.
The shape of Ophelia has many diagonals, but also some almost vertical and horizontal lines to work against the tree trunks diagonal movement. The foreground flora also has a mixture of lines. This piece feels chaotic, but has balance from the serene.
I am glad the broken wacom has pushed me to paint more. It feels harder, but at the same time a lot more natural to use acrylic. I can also look back at my previous work instead of hiding it away in a folder
Until next time...
Nice. you are going to need to slow down just a little bit when laying in your values. I really want you to focus on getting your overall values as accurately as possible to the study. It is going to cause you to be a lot more deliberate when painting and intent and deliberation is a big part of being successful with traditional media. Keep it up!! great to see the traditional stuff. The pencil studies can be pushed value wise as well.
Oh dear this one was difficult. I think the 'thumbnail' studies need to be adjusted according to the amount of detail on the piece. This one by Caravaggio was more difficult because i was tackling the brush sizes more than anything! i think this measures at 5"x5".
The Martyrdom of St. Matthew
Oil on canvas
323 x 343 cm
(127.17" x 135.04") ((haha my copy is at 5"x5"!!!)
I find this piece to be designed to resemble a large tilted triangle. This is achieved by extreme values. There are many diagonal lines running throughout the piece to emphasis action. Some stability has been achieved through the use of verticals and horizontals.
This time emphasis is focused on the mans anger towards the priest. The other people are reacting to this one character to help push this context. However on further study it appears the priest is the main focal point and then the lighting and shapes drew you towards the man with the sword. There are 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th focus points to help guide the story. This is a very narrative based piece.
Most of the lighting has been focused in the center and then darkness surrounds the piece. Other areas of lighting has been used to break up the shadow.
Each character is unique in personality and pose. The clothing is has a lot of variety to it suggesting classes of people.Although the triangle is the dominant shape for this piece, it has been balanced by other shapes to give variety.
The background is almost non-existent. The floor has very little detail as its too dark. The main details are the peoples clothes and their anatomy. Everthing else has been dumbed down to emphasis the characters.
The triangle is repeated quiet often in not-so obvious ways. The has been very little used in terms of repetition as the artist wanted the feeling of suspense.
As mentioned above, a lot of triangles to force action into the scene and this has been repeated in most of the details.
Adjust the canvas size depending on the type of painting.
Mix values more accurately.
Make a system of when to apply values and where.
Block out the shapes first before applying values.
Work through midtones before jumping into the extreme values.
Possibly use a pencil to rough in where the characters go to show more accuracy later on.
I'm starting to enjoy the challenge and the mistakes, makes me feel like I am learning something!
Alright at first I thought this would be an easy one to try. But without flipping the canvas I missed some awful perspective issues. Next time I'll take a little more care in the planning of the copy.
Joaquin Sorolla y
born 1863- died 1923
Playa de Valencia. Pescadoras.
Translated title: Beach of Valencia. Fisherwomen.
Oil on linen
36.6 x 47.5 cm
(14.41" x 18.7")
I see a few triangles in this piece to demonstrate a certain amount of action. A lot of economy is established in this piece which makes sure the viewer does not focus for long on the people on the piece. The main focus is the boat, and then the one in the ocean and then the people. This piece wants to tell the story of the boats rather than the inhabitants. Value-wise, a lot of emphasis on the mid tones and a little here and there on darks. This feels like a high contrast piece, but in truth its been balanced with an over abundance of mid tones. The composition uses the S type, which helps the viewer look at all the different aspects of the landscape.
These are headed in the right direction. Keep a very close eye on your values and shapes. Both need to keep pushing to a higher level of accuracy. This is great to keep doing, especially given your media of choice, and that is going to pay off bigtime. Notice the white sail shape on the left side....notice the clear dark silhouette of the boat. notice how it looks like you have a hill in the far right side background. Keep pushing.
Thank you Jason. Your replies are very motivational and helpful! I think I become careless towards the end when it comes to finishing the piece. That hill on the right was much smaller until the end of the painting session. I am going to keep pushing as it just annoys me when I see the paintings so different when side-by-side XD
100 Times thank you's for the continued support!
Another acrylic. This one a little larger (A4 size). Took me far longer than the advised 30 - 60 minutes. Mayber 2 to 3 hours? I am happy with the amount of detail added. However when comparing side by side with the photograph it looks way off in ratio, value, detail and overall accuracy. I thought I did well with this when painting it! I even turned both the photo and my board upside down for added accuracy. Do'h!
I think my photo of my painting does not capture the values correctly. Any suggestions of better photography? I read a daytime light in the shade is a good start.
Details about the Masters painting:
Title: The Anatomy Lecture of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp
Oil on canvas
169.5 x 216.5 cm
(66.73" x 85.24")
Balance is fantastic in this piece! I chose rembrandt for his mastery in how he balances the values. He uses extreme lighting situations to create a certain suspense to the piece. Cutting up a body is creepy enough, but then adding the stark contrast makes the piece even more sickly. Like many intense pieces, the extreme lights are in the middle and the darkest darks are on the edges.
I LOVE the facial expressions in this piece. The doctor in the original looks like he is peering to the left instead of looking at what he is doing. SO WHO IS THERE? More students? Or someone coming to see what these creepy people are doing to that poor mans corpse?
NONE of the students are looking at the corpse. One is looking at the study book. Another two are looking at the viewer. Its amazing.
Very simple background with easy brush strokes. No details in the shadows. Very little details in the bright light.
Costumes are repeated. Their beards look almost the same, with exceptions (which comes under variety).
This has the S shape and also a broken up tilting triangle. The piece is framed by the background arch and covered all over in darkness to frame the scene.
A lot of time in this one. I KNEW there was something wrong with the head, but I just couldn't figure it out. I saw the face as too small, but never realised the whole head was too small. Traditional observation is hard! I did enjoy painting it though and do feel it still came out quite well considering the placement errors That and I made an ugly woman even uglier!
Artist: Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida
born 1863- died 1923
La Virgen María
Translated title: The Virgin Mary
Oil on linen
93.7 x 62.6 cm
(36.89" x 24.65")
Once I began blocking in the shapes the piece became easier. This piece has been painted in shapes for the most part. Like many portrait paintings, the intense lights and darks are in the center. The person covers most of the working space to fill any space that is needed.
Also to add, this piece focuses primarily on the mid tone. This produced a new challenge where subtle value choice was important.
The brush strokes make the most variety in this piece. For what could be considered a boring piece, the artist has created interest through rough, but precise, brushstrokes.
I chose this piece specifically for its simple approach. All those detailed paintings were making the challenge too difficulty. The face is the only part of the piece that uses the correct blending and edge control. The rest of the p[iece has been laid with heavy brush strokes.
There is repetition in the brushstokes.
The focus is the head. Most implied lines take the course of swirling around the saints circle and then finishing at the neck area. This gives a central point in which to focus.
I enrolled to LevelUP a few days ago, but I feel putting 10 or more hours into a piece is not possible at the moment while I am still struggling with placement and values. I cannot wait to progress through the levels!
Next update will be sunday night or monday. Family calling.
Nice. Great to see the updates. I would like for you to slow down just a little bit and get your mapping out phase of the drawing on the more accurate side. Second, be very very careful with your values. you seem to go more contrasting with yours, like the light lights in the latest piece or the background in the rembrandt. Make very purposeful decisions when putting down your values or you will end up going in to fix things later.
I have been using my ipad for the source material for the latest ones and just realised its blowing the values. The head scarf on the ipad looks like a white. Crazy. I'll have to stick to my main computer for the source material and hopefully get some better results coming in.
As for accuracy and slowing down, i'll sketch out the painting first so I have something accurate to work with. I used to do this to a good results in the past. Its hard to slow down when the painting still takes about 2 to 3 hours to complete haha.... but hopefully sketching it first will cut that in half. I believe the main cause of it is trying to paint the piece from scratch.
I'll get on with another portrait now and get it uploaded. I wanted to sooner but I had my niece bugging me for the past two days
This time I used the grid system. The placements are much more accurate, but work is still needed. The values are still needing work and also possibly a move up to oil paints as blending is a little hard to achieve with acrylics and with such a small scale. When I took the photo it made everything have more contrast, which is NOT ideal! I was tempted to go into photoshop and clean up all the errors and fix the brush strokes.... alas I have no wacom!!! lol
I'll be reletively vague with the desciption to this one as its a simple piece. I notice a few placements of abstract value changes to balance the piece and to allow the eye to wander a little. I like how this one is a very simple piece, but still retains alot of detail in the face.
NOTES: Next time I will put extra care in the facial features! Those eyes are abysmal! And the hand..... I am sure the sketch underneath had none of these issues. Must have been when the paint hid the sketch.... bah
This is a self portrait piece by Rembrandt.
Last edited by Rist; February 16th, 2014 at 06:01 PM.
Hi, another update and another Rembrandt.
I was inspire by the soft edges in this piece. The hidden lines are worked in beautifully. The economy is the greatest asset to this particular painting.
I edited it in photoshop a little, but im not convinced I made the right decision. So instead I have left the editting out of it. I hate how photoshop uses its blur tools.
I also feel the photo has messed with the values again. I think its been a success. Only took around 90 minutes.
The second rembrandt is much closer. I think that you will need to adjust the values using the levels tools in photoshop so the uploaded image matches the values you see in the original, otherwise it is hard to comment. rembrandt glazed in that atmospheric value range and you will have to be very careful mixing if you are to match it when you are painting in more of an alla prima method.
good progress. Keep at it!
Moving away from the old masters and into the modern day masters. Frank Frazetta has a tenancy to use economy in his paintings to great affect. In this piece he employs the shadows and mid tones to explain the shapes and details. Values can still be hard to get correct, but I feel it has become more accurate, possibly due to the extreme values. I'm quoite happy with this piece as a quick study. I like how he has made it seem like there are lots of warriors in the background. He has used the 'floor' to suggest hiding more warriors. Perspective has been used in a great way. The clouds are used to balance the values in the piece.
Artist: Frank Frazetta
Title: Bran Mak Morn
Best one yet. Great progress. Keep working on those shapes and shape accuracy. Your values hit this one really close. Very good work.
I am happy you are starting to see improvement! It really means a lot to me. I am feeling better at painting now and also funny enough I draw a lot better than I did. I think its allowing me to focus more on the little details and not rush through everything. Also the small scale of the paintings is forcing me to take extra care with my brush strokes..
Here is another Frazetta painting. This is one of my favourites. I did not appreciate Frazetta that much until I began this painting. He has added so many little details even though it feels like a simple painting. I can tell he worked really hard on the composing of the piece. Each element is added for a reason.
I need to work on translating the painting to digital as the photo editing doesnt quite give the painting justice.
Getting closer!! Keep at it. I will wait for more crits as you seem to be on the right path now. rock on.
This time I thought about breaking the momentum a little and try something modern. I have chosen John Howe and his Smaug painting. Now I feel this could have been a mistake due to the medium he was using. Watercolour can be a very delicate medium and I felt like pulling my hair out trying to mimic the same details with a fat brush and thick acrylic. Not only this, but I also changed my surface to canvas paper and for some reason this made it all too frustrating. The texture was too rough for thick paint so I had to resort to either watered down paint or go for uber thick acrylic. So I decided to finish this one before it was actually finished.
I noticed Howe was going for a centre of the painting focal point, and used the dragons body to draw the eye back to Smaug. I also noticed the focal point is rather flat. Most of the detail is in the delicate line work.
I'll stick to older masters and recently risen masters as then I know the piece is a success.
This one was just a practice run to get used to different surfaces and play with the brushes and values.
I thought to just show it, showing both failed and successful studies
much improved...so whatever you are doing you are making progress. i think that you need to be mindful of the luminous quality of the values under the wings. there is a feeling of light glowing through there, and you have quite a bit more contrast. taking an extra 20 seconds to mix more accurate values will help a lot and will save you from repainting.
keep up the great work.
Thanks man, I felt like I was fighting too much with that last piece. I think I was just so focused on the wrong things that I neglected to look at the smaller details on how everything works. I need to slow down. I'm just concerned that these are supposed to be quick studies, but they end up like 3 to 4 hour paintings... sometimes longer.
In fact I felt like I was so intense I decided to do something a little different. With this Van Gogh I decided to just let myself loosen up a little and just 'feel' the paint. I was also curious to how Van Gogh tackled Value, as he is most well known for his intense colour.
Even though his paintings look very basic in terms of perspective and detail, I did notice the same principles with composition. He still implemented balance within the piece, from the cresent moon to the tall tree (i think its a tree).
This was a very quickly painted study so no marks should be given for quality Just me splashing some paint about.
gotta get those values closer on the initial block in. When you squint at the images and look at them both at the same time if those shapes are standing out more in the one than the other please adjust them accordingly so the bigger values match. Details will all come later.
Nice start...I will keep pushing you to get closer and closer. it will get easier. keep it up!
Thanks Jason I feel these exercises are more to get me better at painting with acrylics and learning values more than the composition. Practice has been lacking for years and this is the first time I have been able to paint with no distractions.
Below is a new painting I am working on. I have pushed the time limit rule to one side with this one. I think I spent about 5 hours on this already.....
I noticed if I take WIP photos of the piece and place it side by side with the original I can spot mistakes straight away. So this is what I'll do. Already I notice the man is too short. The ratio is either off or my photo was taken poorly. Values need fixing in areas.
As for composition so far, I noticed the armour really pops in this piece, as if to create a depth of field around it. Also the detail is pretty basic except for the armour, which leads me to think the armour was the focus of this piece. I like how the guy on the right picking objects up has given the wall a way to avoid leading the eye off screen. Also I notice a lot of diagonals breaking up the vertical lines. The perspective is very important in this scene to show a certain direction everyone is moving in. I believe this helps to establish movement in the figures. His left foot is slightly off the ground which also suggestions motion.
I notice also if we stare at a piece for too long then we seem to become blind to a lot of the details. Its remarkable how many details I am seeing now I've had a few hours break from it.
Just to also let people know that I painted this one from scratch with no drawing underneath. This has pushed my accuracy back a little, but I really want to improve with observational painting.
if you slow down just a little and really make sure your values are spot on, you will see improvement. alla prima style painting without underdrawing looks like artists just get painting but they are actually very very very deliberate with each and every stroke. Keep it up.
Yes I agree it requires very delibrate brush control. So for my next project I will focus on a very accurate drawing and then take my time to paint the values in.
In the meantime here is a small update. I had an idea, may not be a good one, to add a gif of the two paintings to show the difference in terms of accuracy. The values are off because its a GIF, but it helps to see where I am going wrong with the figures.
Alright, so I tried to fix the other piece and it was just taking too long and was pretty difficult to do with just paint. SSo I have finished this one for now and implement what I have learned into a new project.
Sorry for the delay, had a day off yesterday.
This new one is embarrassing to show. It must have taken me about 6 hours and I am not happy with the end result. I could keep working on it up to 20 hours and still there could be issues with value or brush work. These exercises really make me see my limitations and where I need to go to get better. I could have probably done this in less than half the time in the digital format and probably would look better. I have worked digital for years and using paint and brushes makes me feel like i'm starting from scratch again.
Well the moan is over, on with the piece.
Artist: Herbert James Draper
Title: Clyties of the Mist or The Morning Mists 1912
I really like the extreme values in this piece. From the extreme darks to the lights. I see he has used more middletone to reduce the amount of overall contrast. Also this is using the triangle composition and looks beautiful. It has an upside down titled triangle to give the feeling of sinking and also the shape of the canvas was unusually elongated to give the feeling of depth. In B&W it was hard to see, but I notice the water and the drapery are almost merged in value, to give the feeling the woman are part of the ocean. The piece has darkest values at the bottom and lights above to create a sense of weight and steadfastness.
I may do some more simpler paintings next so I can actually do what the project asks for and thats to study composition. These are just taking too long and i am unable to go through as many paintings as others in a day.
Also please note I usually clean it up a little as well as fixing the photo in photoshop. But I have a way to take the photo more accurately now so you will see exactly what the painting looks like.... I am tempted to edit the painting in photoshop!
the gif idea is excellent and I encourage you to use that.
secondly, if you were to just start in the upper left corner and move across, adjusting values and shapes as you go, and recover the entire canvas if need be, then you will get your values and edges a lot closer. You just need to slow down some when you are mixing. You are putting paint down before you are 100 percent sure. I watched Michael Hussar paint a dozen times and it looks like he is just breezing along when you look at the paintings but when you watch him mixing, he mixes and checks it, mixes more and checks it, eyeballing the brush. Then he looks at a given shape sometimes two or three times before putting the brush stroke down. You have to be sure before putting brush to canvas.