Sunday, January 20, 2013

Letchworth Park Cliffs - Revisited

Now and then, I'll go back and improve an old painting in my collection that has a solid foundation marred by technical problems. These paintings have the potential to be good landscapes, but they are lacking in certain areas that can be improved upon. This painting is one such example that illustrates both good and bad points, which is common for an artist halfway between still learning the hobby and having a good idea what he or she is doing.

The original painting was created back in 2004 and was based upon a visit my brother and I took to upstate New York. The end goal of this roadtrip was to see Niagara Falls, but on the way there and back, we stopped at several sites of interest, including the stunning river gorge in Letchworth State Park. It was a warm day in early September, and a summer thunderstorm had just passed, leaving a cloudy sky, haze in the air, and sunlight just streaking through the parting clouds. This painting was an attempt to do the scene justice, but my reach far exceeded my grasp at the time. Here is the original painting:

The painting has some points in its favor: the composition works reasonably well as it snakes back into the distance, going from right to left to right-center where the distant hills are, and the subject is interesting - stout trees on cliffsides. However, there are some serious technical flaws with the painting. The clouds in the sky are a muddy color in places and sometimes feel too solid. The trees have very hard edges and feel clunky and droopy - the distant trees in particular look as if their tops had been neatly sheered by a hedge trimmer. Finally, the colors are often questionable - there's no feeling of the warm sunlight here, there's way too much black in the scene, and there's no good sense of distant regression from front to back. Fortunately, these problems are all fixable, as shown in the reworked painting.

Acrylic painting: 14" x 17"

A mist effect has been created to push the distant hills into the background - this also does a good job recreating the humid feel of the place after the storms went through. Sunlight has been added through far better color selection, and the mid-distant trees are now clearly further away then those in the foreground. The sky has been filled with mist and mixed clouds vs. the solid, muddy ones seen before, and the trees have been given a wild feeling and no longer appear like solid-edged rocks.

This painting is a great example of what to do - and what not to do - in a landscape, and I hope this post proves of interest for painters who are struggling to advanced their painting skills.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sunlight on a Snowy River

Winter is here, and we've had some snow flurries and threats of more significant snowfall already, but few things beat a river in winter for interest and seasonal beauty. Sunlight glows in the evergreens, as the cold water slowly flows past amid the ice and rocks. Here and there, snow falls from the trees as the low-angle sunlight melts it away on a warm winter day.

Acrylic painting: 14" x 17"