Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Loading Traps

Loading Traps
Original oil painting 16x20"
by Susan Roux

As you know, I've been approaching my art differently since taking Don Hatfield's workshop. I'm overwhelmed at all your lovely comments. So many of you saw my initial block-in as a finished painting. I regret to tell you I put in another 10 hours since then.

Please let me know what you think of the finished piece. Should I have stopped at the initial stage? Your honesty is greatly appreciated. When one is working so hard to develop in a positive way, honest feedback is necessary. Don't worry about hurting my feelings. I'm a tough girl and can take criticism.

Ten hours. I bet you're wondering what I did in ten hours. It blows my mind too.

The first day I painted about three hours. Mike came home, went to look at it and couldn't tell what I worked on. I thought to myself, "Phew, I haven't ruined it yet!"

My brain has been completely involved in this process. I have so much useful information buzzing around in there and I'm trying so hard to implement it into my work. By the end of painting sessions, my head hurts. My only hope for relaxation through this learning process is Luka Bloom piped in my ears, via my nano. Ohhh... how he can serenade me into a peaceful creative place.

So what did I do for ten hours? The block in was to focus on lights and darks. There was no sketch, only a blank canvas and raw paint. Getting the proportions accurate was also of prime importance. The next step was to paint various planes, focusing deeply on the reflected light in the shadows.

You can see all the color in his white shirt and the different planes and colors in his hat. All the while, trying to avoid painting too much detail! I probably failed miserably on that. Paying attention to the planes and avoiding detail seem to be one in the same.

Self criticism: I tried to keep my strokes loose, yet it looks strangely like a photograph. My figure is stronger than any I've ever painted. I had fun playing in the reflected light. I never paid much attention to that before. Of course lots of grays were used and that too was new for me. I'm more of a direct-color person, but I'm seeing the benefits of using grays.

I plan to continue trying to figure this out. In time, my brain will be less active in the process, helping me see myself more in the finished painting. I do find it interesting that with focusing only on light and dark and planes and reflected light can create such a real looking painting. I have loose messy strokes throughout, yet it looks tightly rendered. Of course its worse in this small version. In life, the painting is larger and looks a bit more painterly...

What do you think? Please be completely honest...


  1. Do you take your photos using natural light?

  2. Rick, thanks for calling me on my blurry photos. Here's the new ones.

  3. Oh this is just wonderful! It just sings.
    No you certainly didn't ruin it ... the color the notan --- all of it works so well.

    It may look like a photo from "far away" but when you go up close you can see the lovely play of color and greys and brushwork that create the form... GREAT JOB!!!

  4. Beautiful work Susan! It has such a nice feel. So glad you stopped by my blog so that I could find yours. Sounds and looks like you learned a lot from the workshop. It is hard to put into practice what we leann from workshops. But...it is worth it if you admire and respect the artist.

  5. Susan, I like both pieces very well. The initial start up is beautiful and a bit dreamier, yet the finished piece shows the man w/ an energy/warmth about him that's very nice : )

  6. I am being completely honest when I say this is AWESOME! Great job, Susan!!

  7. It could not have been painted better.

  8. Susan, this is wonderful! Great subject and very painterly. I like both but I think I like this one better.

  9. Susan, I'm an art teacher, so it's dangerous to ask my honest opinion. lol! (Just ignore me if you need to; I'll still think you're wonderful.)
    This is a fantastic painting; I'm so impressed with your hard work.
    Just fine-tuning:
    1. Can you gradually change the values & textures in the water, so it looks like a flat plane going back in the distance?
    2. Maybe blur/thin down some of the lines in the trap, so it's simply suggested in some places, rather than being so literal. (You wisely mentioned this in your last post. Kudos, girl!) A straight calligraphic line might work here.
    3. Check the white hat against white wall behind him. See if there's any contrast; there may not be and you may want little or none. That's fine. Likewise, check the orange float against the orange glove for any difference to create depth.
    As you said, this may simply be effects from the small photo. A small photo of an AWESOME painting by a wonderful artist...

  10. Susan, I think it's awesome. I can almost feel the splash of the water and smell the freshness, too. Great job. Susan

  11. I think you've succeeded well with the lights and the darks.

  12. Susan, I am (honestly!) ENTHRALLED from "seeing" two things here. One, your oil painting; description of your work ethic; discussion of your technique; and your very obvious personal likability. Was that FOUR things? No, it was all ONE!

    My second spellbinding moments here happened as I read the comments (I would call these "possible remarks") by DJ. (Grandma?) This is one posting above the many I might have been the lessor for having missed today. Thank You, Susan! And thank You, God!

  13. yep I think they look like the things you do not eat thanks again for a great comment

  14. Great painting Susan, can tell you were inspired by your workshop. I find I get at least one thing from every workshop that changes my painting life, though getting it from the brain to the canvas sometimes takes a while.

    You're clearly thinking about the right things while you're painting, and that's the important part. Paint on sister!

  15. Sorry. I'm a fan and not a critic. I love them both!

  16. I like the big shapes, soft edges and beautiful colors. Great going.

  17. They are both fantastic. The reflection of light comes up in both..which seems to be the point of this image. It is up to you, in my opinion, and your sense of the completeness of the expression. (I love to work until I feel the little frisson of communication run through me from the picture. The circle is complete.)

    Great to meet you!

  18. la peinture est liberté .. dans l'approche et dans l'exécution..la peinture est travail et amour..
    je pense qu'il faut être sincère dans et avec ces propres possibilités.. et surtout ne pas se faire du soucis à plaire ou de ne pas plaire..
    moi, je trouve vos créations dans un esprit impressionniste parfait!

  19. I think the fishing net and the man are in focus..rightly so..But I like the background water too. It has been rendered with great care. great job!

  20. like the fishing net and the man who are in focus..rightly so. the background water is beautiful too. great job

  21. Great job, Susan! I looked long and hard and it's difficult to see see anything to crit...it is so well painted.
    My only suggestion would be what D. Hatfield, himself, advised on the April 14, 2010 post on his blog. He says: "Put a little of everything into everything else." Just that extra touch of harmonizing to make a painting sing.

    I could be all wet...Lord knows I've been there before. Lol
    Love your painting!

  22. Yep-I love it. Just enough detail on the trap and all that work on the hat paid off. Good job!

  23. Susan, this is one amazing piece. I am rather mesmerized by the fisherman's left arm. The shadows and foreshortening, light play and rather abstract strokes suggesting light kissed arm hair. Beautiful!

  24. Susan, Wow this is a real jump ahead isn't it? Well done, you hard work is really paying off. The highlights on the fisherman's arm are beautifully discribed.

  25. Hi Susan.
    This is certainly a completed painting now. Absolutely brilliant. Apart from the brilliant drawing of his face, the hands ( Which as you know are very difficult to paint )are painted brilliantly. Well done Susan, and all the best.

  26. Hi Susan! thank you for visiting my blog!

  27. i can totally see what you worked on from the first stage to this last one. this last one is very crisp. there is something about it that i do like, but for my taste it is a little busy. just a tiny bit!but it wouldn't bother me if you left it like it is, because it is already very beautiful! wonderful work!

  28. Well I can feel your joy in this work. It's a good work. Photographic? Sometimes it happens accidently when we are in the 'zone' I think. When we are in the zone and painting by action/reaction then however the painting style turns out, it will be a good painting.

    For me the composition is slightly unbalanced. The right side of the painting is where the action is. Your crops of the details are intersting across the canvas, where as in the larger work the water is letting the painting down and not sitting as well as it might.

    Top left there are three reflections and an area where the detail of the water suddenly picks up. I'd make the area above that (where the three reflections are) sky. So we would have a high horizon. And adds some small ships etc eg to that horison using muted varistions of the colours in the foreground.

    That horison line will give depth, it will stop the eye leaving the painting and the small muted boats/points of colour will act as stopping points for the eye to rest on and also carry some of the foreground colours into that area of the painting...

    sorry about the typos

    just an opinion and opinions are very subjective

    its a nice painting :)

    cheers fom Oz!

  29. Fascinating work.
    It has been delightful
    to visit your gallery.
    Good Creations


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