topiary cats

topiary cats

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Bad Painting Analysis

I have come to the conclusion that being on vacation is really excellent for my plein air painting.

Today I went back to Brooklyn and tired myself out making this really bad painting:
9x12 pastel on Colourfix

When I stepped back from this painting after deciding I was done for the day, my first thought was, "I hate my foliage. My foliage is just terrible."
Now, that is partially true but it isn't the reason why this painting doesn't work for me.

I had some assorted papers with me- my 8x10 sanded papers and one sheet of 9x12 Colourfix (the light blue one) that has been living in my Yellowstone box for a really long time, probably over a year. I might have felt a little sorry for the paper, and I also have been on a Good Painting Streak on the 8x10 Richeson sanded paper, so I decided to be a little different.

Don't get me wrong, Colourfix is amazing paper.  It isn't the paper's fault. But though it doesn't seem like a big difference, there is a difference working 8x10 vs 9x12.

I had come into BBG wanting to paint the reflecting ponds where the water lilies bloom in the spring. The water is like a big mirror, really pretty.  But I couldn't get a composition about water reflections that I liked and not be in the way of people walking or building entrances.

So I went to the Japanese garden because there is water there and I wanted to paint water.
The paths are narrow and again, I couldn't decide on a composition about the water.
I settled on a spot that wasn't in the way of others and had water AND a supercool tree.
Which is what brings me to the 9x12 problem.

Do you see how I am rambling here?
That was my exact problem finding a location I liked.

I thought, "If I use the 9x12 paper instead of the 8x10 I'll have MORE ROOM TO FIT EVERYRTHING!"

And that is exactly the problem.

There is too much going on.
I wanted to paint the tree AND the water, but to do that I had to include all that background stuff because it was in the picture frame.

Landscape with a panorama view works because it is not about details, but the overall shapes the landscape makes in its entirety.

Landscape with a particular focus needs to stick to the focus.

Basically, this painting should have been only about the tree or only about the water.
And from my vantage point the tree worked better because I didn't really have much distant view. The tree was closest, then there was everything else on the same plane. I only have a foreground and a mid-ground.

Also, working 9x12 takes longer because it is larger. 
I can absolutely tell the time difference while I am working.

Ok, there are a few things which I like.
I like the red tree all the way at the left.
My skyholes are effective enough.
I like my twiggy trees, though I need more of them.

But my foreground tree, the one I really liked, came out overworked and rather terrible.
Colourfix, while an amazing surface, doesn't take as many layers as a fully sanded paper,
Also, I started out with a color block-in instead of drawing.  In this case establishing the tree with more drawing would have worked better.


  1. I think the picture looks great Jessica, sometimes we pick our own things apart, I do that with some of my accomplishments... You are a very good artist xox

  2. Not so bad as all of that. You were just not where you wanted to be. It doesn't look cohesive. The different elements don't flow together like you usually make them.


Thanks for stopping by!