October 31, 2007

'Me time' - WIP

Continuing my efforts to come up with my own compositions, I have ventured into this one combining several pictures of Monet’s gardens at Giverny, France. The references have been used with the permission of some fabulous photographers at flickr. Right now the painting is in its formative stages and looks quite tight, but I hope to get an impressionistic effect going further. I am also not happy with the richness of the color so far, it looks so dull. I need to work on this a lot more, and if I am still not satisfied, I will go in for my oil paints. I have never tried how oil works on top of acrylics, and I am quite excited to try that out.

Me time - stage 1
(c) Nithya Swaminathan

I am mostly a waterfall or sea kind of person, I love wild waters. Still waters don’t excite me much, but this is a kind of place that I would like to spend some time with myself. That’s what made me add a figure in the pic. I could just go on staring at the waters and those ripples, doing nothing else! Seen above is the initial stage where I have just outlined the lady.

Me time - stage 2
(c) Nithya Swaminathan

I have very crudely indicated some waterlilies in the water. I was in a dilemma whether to have a couple of swans or waterlilies, and have gone with the lilies as of now, since they look more like Monet! The water and the bridge are mostly green, and they all look messed up now. I will be making the bridge a lot lighter and differentiating it from the waters.

Me time - stage 3
(c) Nithya Swaminathan

I wanted to give the lady a nice flowing dress, like those of olden times. I felt it would give a old masters kind of look to the image. I have changed that now, have made the dress rather straight forward. I have also tilted her body to be facing the pond, so that she looks more 'in' the scene. I have also reduced the size of the lady, I felt she look huge before! Blue was my first choice for the colour of the dress, since I love blues. But now I don't like what I have done, since the whole painting is so full of cool colours. I am thinking I will make it peach, or even mild yellow. That should make the figure stand out. The background needs a lot more detailing too.

I have not touched this in a week since I have been busy with my cousin’s wedding and other stuff. We have a holiday tomorrow, and I hope to get some work done on this. So you guys can expect an update on Friday.

October 25, 2007

Conversation - with WIP

I generally work from reference images, and follow them pretty closely. My painting would be easily identifiable as based on whichever photo I use, coz I do not experiment to change much. I wanted to change this approach, thanks to a brilliant thread at Wetcanvas couple of months ago on 'How to use reference images' (too lazy to hunt the link!) and started this painting primarily as a challenge to myself. I wanted to see for myself how much I am able to differ from a photo and able to stand on my own. I picked up a black and white photo of this little girl that had no big details, no light source, and used that as the base to create this painting.

Conversation - stage 1

Nothing here is painted from my imagination, but the whole painting is based on a dozen images, combined in a way that I found appealing. Rather I imagined a scene in my mind, and hunted for pictures that had a lighting to suit, to create a mood etc etc. So its essentially my own composition, and that feels so good!

Initially, my idea was to add a colorful ball to the right side, and something like a butterfly close to the child. It was as if she was playing with the ball but her attention got to the colorful butterfly and the ball was lying unattended to! Well I was thinking about my daughter all along the painting and that is so typical of her. I did add a ball but did not like it and painted over it.

Conversation - stage 2

I felt kinda lost midway and thought of starting afresh on the canvas, but with a lot of compositional help from the experts at Wetcanvas, I could redeem the painting and make it a tad better. Someone at the acrylics forum suggested about adding a kitten/puppy and I loved that idea. So despite the fact that my bakcground was done completely in green, I added a kitten directly with some paint. That probably explains why that kitten looks kinda distorted.

And then I also felt that the child was looking older than she should. I wanted a girl of 2-3 yrs and she looked about 5 yrs I would say. So I worked on 'rounding' her arms a little more and making her size a little bigger so that she was the focal point. And since I felt there was too much of green all around, I added some flowers to the foreground.

Conversation - completed
Acrylics on Canvas, 16 * 20 inches
Original available
(c)Copyright Nithya Swaminathan

When I just thought I was done and went ahead and signed it, my husband said he did not like the kitten at all. He ofcourse was not able to tell me what the issue was, but worse still I wasnt able to point it out myself! Another artist said that the kitten is too big. Now I am in a fix, whether to make it smaller, or paint over it and put in something else there.. Maybe a butterfly, maybe a puppy or anything else. I have no clue as yet. Any comments and suggestions are welcome, I would love to hear different views on "What could it be thats keeping the girl so engrossed?!"

Conversation - detail view

What you see above is a closer look at the child and the kitten, do suggest any changes that you feel would make this a better painting. Thank you!

October 12, 2007

Autumn Woods - completed

Did anyone feel that my maples were a bit too yellow last time? Well I felt so, and I had to do something about it. That’s probably not the only reason why they look like gulmohars and not maples, but I wasn’t too happy with the leaves. I added some flesh tint on them to make them brighter, and darkened the crimson on the other side.

Autumn Woods
Acrylics on Canvas, 18 * 36 inches
(c) Nithya Swaminathan
Original Available

In my previous update, since the leaves had a lot of yellow and were surrounded by more of green and yellows last time, they were getting lost in the grayscale. The barks had a good range of values, but the leaves looked quite flat. I have changed that by adding a lot of dark blues surrounding the leaves, to push forward the maple leaves. And then I correspondingly reduced the yellows in the sunlit areas of the birch barks as well.

Some closeups of the painting for you guys. First is the closeup of the reflections. The reflections have been done by adding the barks first as bright as possible, and then doing several washes of blues and greens, and some browns here and there. Finally to get a better feel of water, I have added some dried leaves floating here and there. I am pretty happy with the reflections overall except for those of the maple leaves. The orange kinda sticks out. I have already got suggestions to tackle it, will probably be washing it over with some darker hues.

Autumn Woods - close up
(c) Nithya Swaminathan

This is a closer look at the middle part of the painting, the ferns and their reflections. This is also my favorite portion of the picture, the part that I am really happy about. I went about randomly doing the ferns but they turned out quite well.I also added some highlights on the ferns. And instead of having the bushes on either side look alike, I made one side have tall grasses. And the middle part is supposed to be a path of some sort, though it may not look like one.

Autumn Woods - close up
(c) Nithya Swaminathan

As I had already mentioned in the previous post, I felt like adding a couple of rocks in the middle. They look really nice, I can tell you. I like the mood that the rocks add, I feel like gingerly stepping on them and walking into those woods, ha!

Autumn Woods - Greyscale
(c) Nithya Swaminathan

Finally, a look at the grey scale, to determine the values in the painting. In this version, I am able to differentiate the background foliage from the maple leaves, which was missing in the previous version. I am fairly happy again with this as well.

While I was checking out slide.com, I just put together the WIP images of this painting and got a slide show done, aint it cool? Shows the flow of the painting from scratch to finish, more importantly shows me my own thought process, how I went off track at several places etc etc. It provides a good learning for me.

Here is a link to this thread at Wetcanvas. Have a look at the amazing results produced by the other artists as well. Such different paintings produced from one image. Awesome fun!

October 3, 2007

Autumn Woods - an update

I was absolutely dissatisfied with the leaves that I had begun in this painting. I had only done the initial layer and there was still a long way to go, but the first step itself was not in the right direction I felt. Being the oil painter that I am, I had this urge to pick up my palette knife and paint to my heart's content. And yeah, thats exactly what I did.

Autumn Woods - Stage 5
(c) Nithya Swaminathan

I have no clue if acrylic painters actually use the palette knife, this was the first time I did. I have used it with oil paintings, and I love the textures the knife generates. My leaves now have got that texture too and I am liking it. The end result is satisfying, though they look like gulmohars and not maples, LOL! The reference image has no clear direction of light, which I wanted to change. Hence I introduced some light from the right side and pushed the darks in the shadows with a lot of blue. Also, I introduced some flesh tint and mild yellows in the barks that face the sunlight, to bring in the sunlit effect. Wonder if I have succeeded fully.

Autumn Woods - detail close up
(c) Nithya Swaminathan

What you see above is a little close up of the leaves, how haphazardly they are done without any actual leaf shapes. I love doing that. I simply picked up some scarlett red, orange and lemon yellow in my knife and went about it without a thought. The dark bluish black lines behind are shadows of the leaves and branches on the trees behind. I introduced these sharp shadows also to accentuate the sunlit effect that I was trying for.

Autumn Woods - stage 6
(c) Nithya Swaminathan

I think I would call the top half of the painting done, excepting the ferns in the front. They need some more highlights on them and I am half way with them. I have just begun working on the reflection, have loosely laid in the barks. When I started with the reflections, I felt like adding some wet rocks along the banks. Some rocks with a coating of algae on them. Wonder if it would go along well with the painting or work against it. You will probably get to know that tomorrow.:-)

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