The post title is a little deceiving, because I’m not sure I could say there is a lot “wrong” with this one. In fact I could call it done and take it to a gallery and they’d most likely gladly put it up for sale on their wall. Not long ago that would have been fine with me, but I’m getting pickier:)
Are the colors and values correct? Mmm…sure, not bad. Is the composition ok? Yeah I’d say it works.Does it communicate what I intended? Yep pretty much. So what’s the problem?
Well I guess once I reached this “perfectly fine” stage, I wanted to ask “what can I do to make it strong, and not just fine?” This has to do with orchestrating a painting with he viewer in mind. How can I control where the viewers eye is drawn? How can I keep the viewer’s attention within the painting. The answer to these questions is relatively simple. It’s the getting to the point artistically where you’re mature enough to ask the question that is difficult.
The answer is what I call “orchestrated contrast.” The viewers eyes will be drawn to the darkest darks, the lightest lights, the sharpest edges and the strongest color. So the solution is to make sure those elements are centrally located in the painting, or at least located around my subject, where I want my viewer looking. With this painting, a simple landscape, I’m happy just to have those things centrally located in the painting, to keep the viewer “in.”
So what did I do?
Well, I added some darker accents (the darkest darks of the piece) in the central tree shadows along the edge of the field. I added the lightest accents in the field up against those new darker accents. I made sure that field edge where the lights and darks meet is a sharp, crisp edge by using a knife to lay the darks in. I strengthened the color of the pink cloud wisp on the lower central portion, again to keep the viewers attention in the middle area, and darkened the top of the sky to make the central area look brighter. And I added some more saturated color above the middle trees in the distant sky and strengthened the cloud edge there too. All these things are meant to keep the viewers attention in the core of the painting and give them a sense of focus and subject. It’s subtle, but makes a difference.
Here’s the final painting with a side by side comparison below. (before on the left, after in the right)
I hope you can see the difference on screen.