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Would either of these photos work as a painting?

edited May 27 in Painting
I'm back in the studio and wondering what to paint so I thought maybe folks could help by offering opinions as to whether either of these pictures could be worked up into a good painting. They're photos of the trees on our place.  I could fiddle a bit with colour and contrast in both.  Or alter the compositions. The first one would be the easiest for me to do. I'm a bit out of practice after all my health problems but keen to get back into it.

Thanks for any advice.




  • Rob

    Great to see you back at the easel.
    Prefer the play of light and shadow on the first photo. also has strong diagonals and the contrasting large upright trunk.


  • Thanks, @dencal. That's what I thought, too. I've got a 3 foot square canvas stretched, primed, stained and ready to paint on. So, depending on any other feedback, I'll probably do that one.  Mixing starts tomorrow morning.

    Cheers :)

  • Rob

    This says it all


  • Yes, I could zoom in like that. But I love painting leaves and sky.
  • Hey Rob. Yep I agree, the first one is a strong composition,  with wonderful shadows. Is the beach on hold?
  • Hi, Roxy. Thanks.

    Yes, the beach is on hold. I started it a while back but for some reason I can't finish it. All those footprints in the sand blow my mind. :# I'm more comfortable with trees. I will eventually get back to the beach, though. 

    How's your landscape coming along? Time for an update! =) 


  • It's great to see you painting again! Is it possible to get a different close up of a section that includes painting leaves and sky? Having a view finder (with same proportions as your canvas) would help in this matter.
  • Thanks, @Forgiveness

    Yes, I could take some more photos of that tree with a viewfinder but the problem is getting another sunny day. They're rare in winter down here. :)  I think that because it's going to be very big there will be lots of detail in the different coloured strips of bark and the sun dappled leaves and trunk that the viewer will lose themselves in it. That's what I'm hoping for, anyway. 
  • edited May 27
    If you were to use a view finder like the ones I made (cardboard), place it over your present photos and choose your composition. I'll bet there are a number of small compositions that you can choose from within the larger photo. I hope this is helpful.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
  • edited May 27
    Thanks, @Forgiveness. I used @Roxy's little app on the photo. It works like  a viewfinder.  I cropped it more or less in line with the rule of thirds. It was the best I could manage with the photo I had. It's the abstract properties that interest me.
  • THE first one gets my vote too. So glad you are ready to paint again. rather than crop or zoom (although Denis' treatment was beautiful) I too would like to see some greenery and the added color of clear sky. I might take some artistic license and thin out some of the background branches to let in more sky and leave room for detailed leaves but there is no question the star of the show is the bark with the dappled shadows of leaves. I'm excited already.
  • Thanks, @BOB73.

    I, too, thought there were too many extraneous bits and pieces that didn't add anything to the composition.  I thought I should trim a twig or a background branch here and there - particularly at lower right where it gets a bit messy.

    Thanks heaps for your input, @BOB73. It's what I Iove about this place.

    Cheers :) 

  • PaulBPaulB mod
    I think photo 1 is a slight departure from what you've done already in terms of palette and warmth, whereas photo 2 is less so.  I would like to see you paint photo 1.

    I also see faces in the trunk in photo 1.
  • oh boy, here we go again!
  • PaulB

    I think you are barking up the wrong tree here  =)


  • Face it, PaulB sees everything everywhere. And he's usually right.
  • edited May 27
    Thanks, @PaulB. I agree - it would be a slight departure. But there's something about photo 2 that does it for me. It's the abstract play of forms and colour. I can imagine texture as well as colour and form... And I might intensify the colours of the central trees a bit. If I painted no.2, I might be tempted to call it something like "Australiana - Arrangement in Pink, Blue, Green and Gray". Which, of course, would be sickeningly pretentious and make Whistler turn in his grave, so I wouldn't go there, but it's that abstract pattern of colour and form that attracts me. :)
  • The solution is simple, Rob; paint them both.
  • edited May 27
    Oh, you guys are cavemen!  You see fauna everywhere. :p
  • edited May 27
    Yup, you got it @BOB73. I'll paint both. :)
  • Branch out a little in the comfort of your studio and go barking mad without fear of losing face. I just realized you can overwork a phrase just as easily as overworking a painting. I'm going to be more careful from now on.
  • Rob, I don't know if this helps, but I managed to boost the mid-tones whilst keeping some darks there:

  • I prefer photo 2
    good to see you back in the saddle mate  =)
  • Thanks, @movealonghome ; and @Boudicca. And thank's, @Richard_P. You're a genius.  That's exactly the sort of adjustment I had in mind, Richard. Can you tell me how did you did it. I'd like to do it on the original big photo. Thanks, heaps. :)

  • I like the first photo.  All the diagonals are interesting.
  • Thanks, @KP83.  :)

    I'll do what BOB73 said and paint both.  The first photo will be the easiest so I'll start with that one.
  • @tassieguy..these are such great photos...the blues in the stringy barks and the greens in the eucalypts ..(.do you have any with the tops of the trees still in? )

    I love that contrast between the elephantine dimensions of the trunks and main branches with the stringy bark, white younger branches and the clouds of leaves balanced on the  end of the twiggy stems

    ahhhhh you make me miss those trees

  • Thanks, @judith. Yes, I have lots with the tops still in and will paint some after these two. And, yeah, I love the stringy barks, too, and the colours of the eucalypts. I use the fallen limbs as firewood in my studio so they provide subjects for painting and warmth while I'm painting. :)
  • In Photoshop I used the "HDR Toning" process in the Adjustments menu and adjusted some settings to bring out the darks a little.
  • Thanks, @Richard_P. I don't have Photoshop but I'll try to do it in Affinity or GIMP.
  • The original photo I adjusted was 3000 x 3000 pixels. If you have one bigger then I can do the same on there..
  • So is the one you adjusted still 3000x3000 @Richard_P? If so I can use that. It will be big enough to blow up. Thanks for your help, Richard. Oh, wait, yes I see it's still 3000X3000 and there's enough detail. Thanks so much, Richard. =)
  • @tassieguy, I prefer no 2. I would crop it like this :) 
  • Thanks, @marieb. I think your crop would work, too. But I do like the nice big sky holes in the original. :)
  • tassieguy said:
    Thanks, @marieb. I think your crop would work, too. But I do like the nice big sky holes in the original. :)
    I was looking at Kaustav' most recent and it has that  exact thing you are talking about the the nice big sky must be an australian archetype from growing up around gums ...the thickness of the bush with the skyholes of light 
  • Richard_P said:
    In Photoshop I used the "HDR Toning" process in the Adjustments menu and adjusted some settings to bring out the darks a little.
    Well that was really cool. Is that how you put in the flying crab, the blueberry muffin and the wolf's head hiding in the ferns or were they already there?
  • PaulBPaulB mod
  • Thanks, @Paul. That looks like just what I need.  :)
  • Oh, wow! I just watched that and it explained it all. I'm not very techno savvy so this is a great help.
    Rob :)
  • hmm... at first I thought photo 1, but then I saw @Richard_P s adjustments, and I just love the purples and greens  and oranges all together! I think with a slightly more saturated background sky #2 would be stunning! 
  • Glad you're going to start with the first.  The light is beautiful there.
    Wonder what it would look like with @Richard_P adjustments as in photo 2?
  • Ronna said:
    Glad you're going to start with the first.  The light is beautiful there.
    Wonder what it would look like with @Richard_P adjustments as in photo 2?
    Like this:

  • edited July 10
    Ok, the first one ("Dappled Gums") is done, so it's on with the second.

    This one will be bigger -  42" X 42". I'm excited. And daunted. This one will be harder than 'Dappled Gums'  because there's a lot of different cool and warm greens and mauves and a wider range of values.  Also, "Dappled Gums" was pretty close-up. That means that in this one I'll have to think about atmospheric perspective. There's more distance to evoke so distant tree tops will be bluer/greyer. But it's good to challenge oneself. What doesn't kill us makes us stronger.  B) 

    Here's the reference photo again:

    Thanks again to @Richard_P for help with this photo.  :)


  • Go for it!  Can't wait to see!!!
  • Can you bring out more blue in the sky, similar to the first one?  The sky is this one is a bit washed out...
  • Thanks, @manitou. Yes, I agree - a more intense blue in the upper sky.

    Cheers  :)

  • This is one I’m looking forward to seeing. I love that there’s so much sky. 
    A lot of beautiful colours in this. 
    I predict a stunning result , Rob. 
  • I know that your approach of breaking the painting up into squares is what makes this possible, but really my reaction upon seeing that photo is... could you possibly choose something more challenging to paint? Honestly... I'm not sure if I could come up with a more challenging source photo...

    I also admire your diligence in getting these big paintings done. I'm down to the last 15% of my 26x32 and it's a lot of work
  • edited July 11
    Hi, @CJD. Yes, it's a very challenging source photo. That's why I tackled the other one first. But there's something about all the varied textures of the different foliage that attracts me here. I won't  be able to paint every leaf and twig - I'm going to have to be a bit more impressionistic than usual. It will take a month or more and it may not work but I'll give it my best shot.  If I hadn't quit my day job there'd be no way I'd even attempt it. Thanks for your comments.   :)
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