Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Thank you, Sketchbook Skool

House in the Hood
Watercolor and gouache on Fluid Cold Press Watercolor paper, 140#

This self-directed art learning curve can be tricky. You can put in those 10,000 hours, but without a mentor/teacher, you can unintentionally learning some bad habits. In other words, it might take 20,000 hours. Or more.

Over the past couple of years I've taken numerous online courses through Sketchbook Skool, an organization I highly recommend. I'm also a member of the Facebook Sketchbook Skool Community, where people post their work. But it only this week occurred to me that I could ask the community members for some serious help on the painting above (see below for the earlier in-progress version).

Wow, did they have some great suggestions after I posted the composition below, which I felt was not coming together, and asked how to "fix" it. I know my final version above is still overworked, but I learned so much from their comments, and I think I can take what I've learned and try it all over again....if I want to....or apply this new knowledge to new compositions. 

Here's what they suggested after looking at the painting below:
  • Add more detail to your focal spot. Everything has the same amount of detail right now, and the trees really draw the eye because they are the darkest things in the painting. Maybe make just the front porch your focal spot?
  • The house (especially the front door) is in the dead center of the page. It’s tough to pull off a compositions with the focal point dead center. Try cropping a couple inches off the top or bottom of the image. Then suddenly the house becomes the focus and the composition works. I love the colors.
  • I agree about the trees drawing the eye, so what about making them the focal point? You have some really good texture. Try darkening your shadows and using a fine line brush to add some thin branches.
  • Decide on your focal point and make that the area of highest contrast. The back tree needs to be paler than the front on. Right now they are the same. Depends on what you're going for. If all the values are the same, the picture becomes flat. Making your background less bright or paler will help it recede, and making your foreground more saturated will help it come forward. Same with the sky. Have it more saturated at the top, and paler as you go down, as that part (horizon) of the sky is further away from the eye.
  • I think your color use is excellent. The lighter tree in the foreground works for me. I'm re-learning color and it's fantastic to see this. It gave me a "YES!" feeling. Recessive colors, dominant colors...art class was so long ago; but it's coming back!
  • I often have the same problem again and again even though I know the reason (for me). There is more detail in the background (house) than in the foreground (grass, stairs, and path). Your eyes in the real scene would tell you otherwise. If this was my painting, I would add detail and texture in the foreground, reduce the sharpness of the house's roof, and make the far background (middle height of the picture, behind the house) paler. I like the way you've attached the trees to the ground. It's often a trick part, too.
Thank you, Sketchbook Skool peer mentors! 

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