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WIP- Coffee on the Llano, 24”x30”, oil

This is probably going to be the most difficult one I’ve done. There’s a lot going on in this one. Plaid shirt, ripples and reflections in the water, etc. I shifted the figure to off center. Does the composition work? Any comments or suggestions, as always, are welcome. The painting photo came out really dark. Painting is not quite that dark. 



  • Looking good so far, @HondoRW. You've got some nice atmospheric perspective happening in the background trees. The composition looks good.  :)
  • It looks good @HondoRW, agree - it's a difficult scene to paint, but i'm sure you will pull it out :)
  • edited March 13
    Still a long way to go. Need help with the water. Any suggestions are appreciated. 

  • I like who like what you’ve done with the water so far.  The strip of water behind him looks a bit too dark based on the photo.  The composition looks great.
  • shifting the man to the right was a good idea :) looks good!
  • Thanks @GTO. Yes, I’ve got to rework that strip of water as you’re right, it’s too dark. The bottom section of the painting where the main river is needs some work too. I was sort of playing around with that area trying to capture the look of rocks under the surface. 
    Thanks @anwesha. I’m glad you think that works. I’ve been debating it since I did it but I didn’t want him dead center. My wife took this photo of a guy who looks a lot like me and works really cheap😁.
  • @HondoRW
    The water is a complex mix of textures, reflection and shadow. All moving.. Paint it with patience and don't hurry. A meditative exercise. Capturing the movement is very important. Are you painting wet in wet or layered?

  • edited March 14
    Thanks @KingstonFineArt. Actually a little of both as far as wet on wet and layers, but mostly wet on wet. Here’s the latest photo below. Still a ways to go. Trying to be patient with the water as you suggest. It would help if I knew what I was doing 🙂. 

  • Lightening the water strip in the background has really helped create more space around the figure.  Your water in the foreground is looking great!
  • This is looking really good, @HondoRW. I like what you've done with the vegetation. The water is good now,  too. And the figure who looks like your wife's husband is very well done. 

    One small thing you might want to check is the length of his left hand (our right). 

    This is turning out to be one of your best.  Take it slow. :)
  • Thanks @GTO and @tassieguy. Rob, you’re a master on water and rocks. Should I add more light and dark strokes in the water? What does it need? 
  • edited March 14
    @HondoRW, here are the photo and the painting together to make comparison easier.

    You've made a fine job of this so far. You are now at the final, "spot the difference" stage. When we get to this point Mark tells us to ask, How is my painting different from the source?

    There are a few obvious things like the colour of the small island he's on which you may have had in mine to deal with later. (Although it works ok as it is) The answer to your question about the water and rocks will depend on how detailed or how broadly painted you want the finished painting to be. Assuming you want a high level of detail in the water then you would need to enlarge the photo to the same size as the paining so you can see where the detail is. Then it's just a question of doing lots of little brushstrokes of the correct colour and value and placing them in exactly the right place. For a foreground with water and small rocks as you have here I find a grid very useful in getting placement correct. It's tedious painting by the square inch but, for me, if I want that sort of detail that's what I have to do. 

    Here is an image of a few square inches at the bottom right of the photo.

    Can you see the difference between this and the same section of your painting? The trick is to paint the details in each small section so there is no, or very little, difference between the photo and the painting. But you need to have OCD to do this consistently for a whole painting - especially a large one like yours. An easier alternative is to employ abstraction. Zoom in on the photo and then paint lot's of little dots and squiggles of the right colour and value in about the right place. This gives the impression of detail. But the colour and value of each little abstract dot and squiggle must be right. They only need to be in about the right place. For me, this is the only practical way of proceeding because unless you're a machine you cannot reproduce every pixel. 

    If you want a boarder, more painterly look, then you are on the right track so far. Again, play spot the difference and you will find a few areas to fix. For example, the sky reflections  in the water in front of him are too light. This comes down to careful colour checking which you can obviously do - I mean, those jeans are perfect. But until you get really good at judging color and value on the fly you need to colour check consistently. That's why I said to go slow.

    And that's about all I can say really, Hondo. It's a really good painting as it is and you could just about call it finished. Hope this post is not too long winded.  :)

    BTW, looking at that hand again, I think you got it right. 
  • edited March 14
    Thanks Rob! I appreciate you taking the time. And you covered the bases from highly detailed to more abstract. I’m going to go the more abstract route as you probably guessed so thanks very much for those detailed tips. 
    I actually was going to rework the sand on the island as it is much too red compared to the photo. And re the hand, I looked at it carefully after your first comment and I actually think you were right. I had the distance from the wrist to the knuckle too long and then the distance from the knuckle to the first finger joint was too long also, so thanks for pointing it out. 
    I’m including a second picture because I took the figure from the first and placed it the second for composition. Thanks again!
    Second reference photo and latest painting pic:

  • The water is very good.  The cowboy is really coming to life.  Looking great IMO.
  • This is really good.  I especially like the water being  poured out of the coffee pot.
  • It looks great, @HondoRW. I think your there now with the water.  :)
  • The water looks great.  The green water strip in the back shoul be more greed down. Do a color and value check with your reference.  Other than that I’d say you’ve got fabulous water look and feel going on.
  • edited March 16
    Thanks @A_Time_To_Paint@oilpainter1950, @tassieguy and @GTO
    I’ve got a little more work on the water (I agree on that strip @GTO) including getting rid of that dark spot at bottom center and then adjusting color in some areas like the sand on the island (still too red) and a few other spots. Then a little detail work and I’m going to call it done. Thanks for all the input. It was a huge help!
  •  I just love this painting.  Everything comes together so well.  The brushwork and the subtleties of color.  I have painting envy.
  • @HondoRW
    I'm really wanting to see more the texture bottom of the clear stream. 
  • Thanks @KingstonFineArt. That last photo was not the latest. Here’s the latest and I actually had added a few more rocks in the stream before your suggestion. Here’s the latest. Have just a few details to correct. I know it’s not a perfect copy of the photo but that wasn’t my goal. My iPhone doesn’t make a perfect copy of nature either. Do you think it still needs more rocks to make a better painting?

  • @HondoRW
    It depends on the story you are trying to tell. Cool clear water. Tanic stained water. As it is that part of the story is ambiguous for me. Maybe the water is tertiary. That has nothing to do with the painting mechanics.
    All in all it checks most of the boxes. 
  • You make a good point @KingstonFineArt. Thanks for the input and I’ll definitely consider it. 
  • I have really enjoyed watching this one develop. 
  • Thanks @Dustin_Cropsboy. I’ve enjoyed working on this one. Western scenes are not necessarily the most popular nowadays but where I live it’s a big part of the culture. I learned a lot on this one so from that standpoint it helped me to tackle it. It really wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. So I need to fix a couple of areas (hat and hands still need work) and then on the the next one. 
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