16 x 20 inch oil on canvas panel, begun as plein air with subsequent work at home.  Location: Public Gardens in Halifax NS.  Dated 1964.

This one has been carried from place to place, but will not be moved to our new home.  I am aware of numerous issues with this piece, and I offer it up as a learning opportunity to others.  While I don't mind hearing what you may like, it is hoped that you will note the faults and think about how they might have been avoided.  There is little you can say about this that will hurt my feelings, so don't be bashful!

I particularly invite newer or less experienced members to offer opinions, as that is how you learn.  Perhaps Karen and some of the more seasoned artists will hold back until the rest of you have had a chance to comment.

Views: 165

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Excellent idea Charles! did you use a reference photo?

Although I have some photos of the gardens, I have none depicting this particular area.  I did enough in the plein air session that further reference was not deemed necessary.  Or maybe I was just lazy . .  .       .   This was long before digital, and I shot transparency (slide) film almost exclusively - that may have been a primary factor, as I could barely afford the film.

The sealed walkways meander through the park and featured "low" benches where visitors could rest or read a newspaper.  Sometimes spent my lunch breaks here in the early 70's.  This was a prime tourist destination, and featured many local and more exotic species, plus an open bandstand and a narrow waterway treasured by waterfowl. 

hi Charles :) its a pretty painting.  the shadows and the road lead my eye quickly out of the painting. you told me once, i should leave an entrance into the painting, and i can walk on the grass, but not the path :)  Is the sun directly overhead? the shadow of the big pine seems long enough so that the light post should have a shadow. I feel that the background trees are a little color intense. the plant that is in the shade of the pine tree stands out the same as the ones in the sun. i love all the pretty, dainty flowers, and the bark on the pine tree is nice and rough looking. you put the red from the flowers throughout the painting, so that's nice. thanks for giving us a learning tool! i need all the help i can get! if these are things that arent on your list, i hope you will correct me!

Thanks for your input Wenda!  I will make a more general response once it looks like interest has started to wane.  There is some glare on the tree trunk, but you did pick up on the texture!  This was one of my first attempts with a painting knife, and the tip of the blade was used to try emulate the rough texture of the bark.  The paint surface remained quite glossy when dry, and the many facets make it almost impossible to eliminate glare.  The real question is whether that texture adds to the painting.  .      .    

Hi Charles,

Let's see if I have learned anything from Karen shall we. Couple of observations at first glance. The shadow of the pine tree stands out as being quite dark and large for was appears to be a fairly sparsely branched pine tree. The shadow is essentially the same size and density as the much fuller trees in the distance. The value and intensity of color of the grass and trees in the distance seems the same as it is in the foreground. Seems as if it should be a little grayer and cooler in the distance give it some depth. And I love reflective light on things in shadow but the bark of the tree seems a bit too brightly lit and too consistent from top to bottom. Overall I like the composition but I do feel like I would have to jump over those flowers in the foreground if I wanted to walk down that path. :) Also it seems to have a cool feel throughout the painting so I might warm up the greens and yellows in the foreground to have a better sense of what appears to be a warm spring day...

Thanks for the input, Brad!

The tree trunk was done with a knife, leaving many facets that produce glare in the photo.  The trunk is not as light in the painting itself.

My comments are otherwise reserved for the moment, in the hope that others will respond.

Hmmm.  Looks like I may have to stir the pot a bit.

Where is the focal point or center of interest?

Down the road a bit

Hi Charles, or is it Charlie or Chuck?

Over all I think it is a very beautiful, well proportioned painting. I really like the use of color and shading that your put into the painting to make it so sunny and warm.

The one negative that I see is the sparsely populated evergreen in the foreground. I would like to see the pine needles fuller and denser in the painting. Also, if the tree is indeed that sparsely populated with foliage then, I would like to see the shadow underneath the tree broken up with sunlight breaking through the branches.

Over all a truly wonderful painting.

Well done,


Hi Charles, I have not yet used oils, so don't know if they act differently when you paint with them. You always have such an articulate way of giving advice and suggestions I am a bit nervous, but since you already know the answers, let's see what I can catch. The flowers behind the pine seem too sharp/defined compared to rest of picture and perhaps could have been moved a little more to the right side of the tree?, the clouds are very square, not sure what is happening there, maybe just my screen? I love the shadow colours on the road and absolutely love the bark on the pine. (But perhaps too clearly defined for this pic?). The four plants seem rather oddly placed, don't add to this scene in my opinion. Only one lamppost looks lonely. When I read over what I wrote, can't help thinking -since you said this was a photo- that most of what I criticized is the landcapers fault, lol

Oils are different from acrylics, but that is not the issue here.  This is a photo of my painting; I do not have a photo of the actual scene, unfortunately.  The "clouds" will be explained with my critique, but good job picking up on them!

Hello Charles,

Great idea - good practice for us all.  Here is what I see.....

I really like the background trees and the way the grass is painted.

The brush strokes used to paint the sky are a bit distracting to my eye and the sky does not recede.  I think that muting some of the colors in the distance could help convey distance. The shadows are all very dark and solid looking.  The shadow on the side of the path/road and on the light pole does not look correct as the sun appears to be directly overhead in the trees.  Why is the railing on the road so much in shadow?

What is the focal point?  I guess it is the light pole, although my eye seems to wander around the painting as there are many distractions.  If the light pole is intended to be the focal point it needs some work to make the eye go there.  Perhaps removing the small bushes and foreground flowers would help and putting the large tree further to the right, as well.

Those are my observations.  Every painting has problems to solve!


What's new?

Need some extra help?

The Personal Tutor

Yes, you CAN help!


Become a Patron of the Arts!

Join me on my Patreon page. Pledge a small monthly donation and get rewards!

  • Discounts on Classes in my Online School
  • Discounts in my Etsy Shop
  • Free Personal Tutor Sessions
  • Patron Only video chat/demos
  • and more!



Or you can use the button below for a one time contribution in any amount - Thank you!

Latest Activity

Denise Thornton posted a discussion
21 hours ago
Sarah Irland commented on Sarah Irland's photo
Charles Emery posted a photo
Charles Emery posted a status
"Smuggler’s Notch Vermont. A plein air painting 11x14 on canvas board"

© 2018   Created by Karen Ilari.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service