9 x 12 oil on canvas board. I took the photo while traveling and started painting it a year ago only to become to intimidated by so much green. It was a chilly somewhat overcast day. I just finished it a few weeks ago and hope there is not too much more to do. I wanted to get distance, values and focal point. I dimmed the mailbox in the left which was bright red to make the round one more prominent.

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Just two quick comments, will have to think about this one a bit more when not so rushed.

1)  Contrasts draw the eye.  This can be value, colour, shape, etc.  In the photo the darkest value is the shadow immediately under the mailboxes, and it instantly helps define the center of interest.  In your painting, that same area is secondary to the shadow between the vegetation and the road.  That darker shadow draws the eye away from the mailboxes. Putting the darker values in the original location and downplaying the lower shadow will make a big difference in the visual impact.

2)  Canvas proportions play a role in composition.  The typical sizes ( eg 9 x 12) are somewhat reflective of our field of vision - a longer horizontal plane and shorter vertical.  When painting a long, narrow object or series of objects, the effect can be greatly enhanced by using a format that reflects that shape, rather than reproducing the view of the camera.  Use paper strips to block off the top and bottom of your piece and you will see the change this makes.  I would have tried this on a 6 x 12 or 12 x 24 canvas to heighten the linear composition and eliminate some of the excess background.  Another aspect of thinking outside the box!  

Thanks Charles. I never thought of that. You made some very detailed observations that took some time. I didn't realize the shadows conflicted either. Your comments are greatly appreciated.

I love this image Madeleine! I can see why it captured your eye.

You've done a great job with it, too! I love your bold colorful brushwork. Really lovely!

Charles gave you some great advice with the dark shadow on the road drawing the eye too much.

Here are some of my thoughts.

  • You have done a great job by cooling off the color in the background to give some depth to the scene. You might want to lighten the value and soften the edges of the far trees to create even more depth.
  • The light on this day is overcast and cool. When you have cool light, you will have warm shadows, so instead of a dark bluish shadow color, you will want something leaning more toward red

Here's an illustration of these ideas

The last idea has to do with perspective.

  • We show that with the angles of elements. As they recede into the distance, lines will converge.
  • The other way is with relative size. Things are smaller as they recede

Here is an illustration of that idea:

Do you see the difference in the angles on your painting and the reference? Yours are closer to parallel.

The small images compare the relative sizes of the boxes. You are fine in the front, but do you see how much smaller the final box is, relative to the first box in the photo?

Yours are really similar in size.

Of course, all of these things are subject to your artistic interpretation! There is nothing that says you have to stick to real life realism! So take these suggestions as just that, suggestions and thoughts :)

Thanks for sharing this lovely painting Madeleine!

Thanks. Good observations! I knew the size of mailboxes very different but my skill level inadequate. Never thought of perspective. It took me a year to tackle this painting. Right, warmer shadows on an overcast day. I'm trying and learning each day.

Excellent! That's the key, don't get stuck worrying about what you think you can't do! Just give it a try, and then another try :) Don't be afraid of trying and failing (not that you did that here!) that's how we learn! It's that easel that teaches us the most!

And, by the way, you are doing an amazing job! Keep up the awesome work!

i can certainly see why you wanted to  paint this. it has a lot of character! you have done quite well :) love all the varied greens.  i see our local helpers have given you some great advice. thanks for sharing, as we all learn from these discussions.


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