by Cindy Barnard
(Bloomington, Indiana USA)
Summer Landscape in acrylic
I took a picture from my deck looking across the street to the grade school yard I live across from..I took liberties..the fence..the little tree and hill on the right..the clouds...in other words, I took a lot of liberty because I just couldn't achieve what it really looked like.
I would like very much an honest critique because this is the first time I've ever painted. It's done in acrylic from an inexpensive set I got for Christmas. It's taken me seven months to get up the nerve to attempt painting.
There are aspects I think aren't bad but that huge tree in the middle and the pine tree are a dilemma to me. I can draw a stick tree ok but can't seem to achieve the fluffy/leafy part very well. Same with the pine tree. I guess I'd like to know how to fix it now that I've done it?
I also have a question about my composition. I was going for larger foreground (big limbs to the left and right), distance for the little tree and hill on the right etc. But the big tree in the middle seems to be the focal point and I'm not sure it should be (mainly because it doesn't look realistic to me)..I think it sticks out like a sore thumb..ha ha.
Any help would be a great learning experience for me!! I'm not done with it yet! the picture I took isn't the greatest (the sky is a bit bluer) and there's a shadow from the easel at the bottom but I think you can get the idea from it...
***Note from Kerry:
I have enjoyed studying your painting, it has a good "feel" to it.
Now, I am no painter, I've had no experience at all but I hope I can share some things (that I've learned via pencil drawing) that might be of use to you.
To achieve a realistic tree, you need to squint your eyes to get a good idea of the overall shape. Still squinting, observe how the outer branches fall in patches and observe the shape of the leaves (pointy, round etc) as far as you can tell from your distant position. Squinting is an excellent way to identify light and shade. I can see you've worked in different colors into the tree but maybe it is darker than you have portrayed. You are "thinking" it's dark green and you're not relying on what your eyes are telling you.
With composition, I have often read that many artists move around until they find the spot that speaks to them the best. You have been restricted because you've looked directly across the street and the tree is obviously in your line of sight. The focal point of a painting should be off-center.
To paint is to suggest rather than to try and portray an object as it really is. Paintings up close don't look near as good as they do once you stand away and that's where the sense of wonder comes in.
You've got the right idea and you're using what you want to use in the picture, all artists take liberties because that is what artistry is about.
To sum up, I am impressed with your first attempt!! We all have to start somewhere and already I can see that you will be producing fine artwork within the year.