UPDATE

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Hi Catherine!

Thanks for posting this lovely project! It is a very inviting image and i can see why you were drawn to it. You have done some lovely work in your foliage and flowers. Your brushwork is lovely.

I think the struggle you are having is with some basic composition issues.

The first is the focal point. What drew you to this image? What is the story? What is more important, the garden and the flowers, or the building, the large rock?

I'm asking that because all of these are competing for our attention. The place our eye will go first is the area with most contrast and interest. So right now that is your doorway. You have strong whites and dark blacks. Is that where you want us to look first? And it is a bit confusing when we get there. It looks like this is strong sunlight and shadow, but I don't see that light anywhere else in the painting. That interior brightness there is actually much darker in the photo, and so doesn't grab our attention right away. Unless this is your focal point, I would reduce the contrast there.

So then the flowers on either side of the door, the group of white flowers on the right, the stone and the large expanse of roof are all catching my eye. They all have equal weight because of their color, contrast and detail.

A good part of this has to do with the lighting in the image. It looks like an overcast day, the light is very even and low across the whole image. What this does is flatten the image. Makes things look 2 dimensional. It's hard to create form, depth, roundness when the light is so even. This is why I always look for images with good light and shadow. It just makes the job easier.

Another thing to avoid in an image you want to paint is a confusing object. The large rock is understandable in the photo, but it is an unusual element. It's really hard to paint things like that. In the painting I am just left wondering what it is and why it is there. Add to that the very light value and high contrast and it becomes a competing focal point that is confusing to the eye.

So, just as an example, if I were painting this image I would have reduced the size and importance of the building by reducing the contrast, and leaving off the flowers on the wall. My feeling is you put those there because there were large expanses of empty wall because the size of the building is bigger. If it were smaller it would settle back in the background. I would have also kept the tree on the left as it softens the sharp edges of the building and roof. By keeping the building smaller your proportions of elements would be better - now it is kind of half building, half garden. Instead I would make it one third, two thirds.

Side note - be careful of lines so close to the edge of the canvas like the top of the roof... either stop short or continue off the canvas.

I would lose the big rock as it is a confusing element. Instead I would let the tree be a secondary focal point back there.

Then I would focus on creating light and shadow in the garden. There is one spot where you did this - it is along the path on the lower right. There is some foliage arching over the walk, I can see a shadow under it and a patch of sunlight hitting there. That is the idea. Decide where your light is coming from, choose an area to highlight and an area to keep in shadow. Again, I would vastly prefer to do this from a photo taken on a sunny day so you don't have to make it up. And you don't have to, it just helps you make the forms look rounded, and helps you create focal areas. For example the white flowers - you would have a sunlit side, and a side in shadow. With this you would be able to make them look more round. The darker sides would integrate with the darker foliage so you wouldn't have those sharp edges all around that give them a kind of pasted on look.

Haha, sorry to ramble. I always try to just give one idea at a time because I know this can all be overwhelming. Bottom line is it's not your painting skills, it's the composition and the lighting :) Because you did a lovely job with the painting! Your roof has some beautiful color and texture, I really love it! But that serves to draw my eye to the roof, and then wonder why I am there! Do you see what I mean? Think about the story, not just focusing on individual elements.

Anyway, thanks so much for posting! Let me know if you have any questions or updates!

very kind words and I now understand what you mean and why it is frustrating me. You make all good sense. It is a friends house and this is the pathway to her massage studio. she is big in rock climbing so that is why she places rock like that in her garden.

mmmm, not sure if i just paint over the whole thing and do something different or try to work on the aera you mentionned.

thank you, and I hope your music band was a total hit! you seem so very talented!

Hi Catherine,

Thanks for your Personal Tutor payment! We can continue with this painting or start again, your choice. I tend to continue on with a painting to try to resolve issues, unless I feel that I've done as much as I can at my level of experience. Sometimes I will come back years later and rework a piece that has always bothered me, or that I can finally see some solution in.

Your choice! We can also continue your session here as an open discussion, or as private emails. If you are willing to share, I think it benefits everyone to see the level of suggestions that I am able to give in a Personal Critique.

Oh, and our band gig was a blast! We had a good crowd and all seemed to be on our game. So different from painting in both the audience interaction, and not having a "product" when you are done. I do love both!

It turned out great Catherine!

Catherine, I just saw your update on the personal tutor page. Let me take a look at that and I will email you with my response...

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