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Forest Fern oil on panel 9" x 24"

edited April 22 in Post Your Paintings
Here is something I did mainly as an exercise, but also because I liked the lighting effect.  I'm wondering how close I got (colour/value, the latter more important)?  Any and every critique welcome. Thanks for taking a look!

Ref. photo



  • Great job of compensating for the photo limitations here @Gary_Heath
  • edited March 28
    Looks good, @Gary_Heath.

    Many would have seen that background and run a mile. You made a fine job of it.

    The frond looks good, too - perhaps a slightly brighter yellow-green on it's top section. But that could be a problem with your camera. I can never get mine to accurately record colour in my paintings.   :)
  • I like what you’ve done with the background.  Looks better than the reference. The green in the reference is a bit more intense.  
  • Really good job all the way around I think. Agree with @Roxy’s comment about compensation for the photo limitation. 
  • edited March 30
    @Roxy.  Thanks.  Obviously had to push the frond into the frame, and simplify the background somewhat. @tassieguy.  Thanks for your comment.  I was pleased with the way the background turned out. The photo of the painting is pretty accurate; the ref. photo is not as it is way pumped up.  Nonetheless, I've probably overdone it with white/yellow.  Beware of adding white says Mark Carder, and surely I know where he's coming from now.  @GTO Thanks.  I think what you say is correct even though the ref. photo is pumped up, and I need to adjust accordingly.  Tricky thing adjusting values at the final stage, you almost don't want to do it for fear of getting it wrong.  I'll do it though.  @HondoRW Thanks so much.
  • edited April 21
    Reworked this several times. Not convinced it's an improvement, but the values are more accurate compared to the print photo.  If anything, they could be a bit duller here and there. Gosh, values are the art!  Messing around, I lost some detail in the leaves, but again probably closer to the reference now.  It's hard for me to be objective, which is why I'm posting hoping for some feedback.  Thanks for looking, and comparing! (I just knocked down some of the highlights in the top leaves. I'll post another picture in a minute.)

  • Hello Gary!
    I personally liked the first attempt.
    I find my self overworking a painting to correct values or to get closer to what the reference image looks like and end up having the opposite effect. Sometimes it's maybe better to leave the painting as is and move on to the next one. And even better not to be so dependent on the reference photo since we're painting and we can modify painting to look even better compared to the reference photo.
    If i have a subject like that i prefer to mass in the main values and then add the small shifts in value. For example mass in the light green and then put the small dabs of dark green. All thought I'm not sure how you can achieve that with runny paint. Hope it makes sense.
    Good job on the background!
    Here's the photos next to each other

  • I appreciate the contrast in warm greens and cool greens. It draws eye in every which direction and finds new details hidden everywhere. Great job 👏🏻 
  • edited April 22
    @jward Thanks.  The idea had some merit.  @Marinos_88 Thanks for the feedback.  I probably did overwork it.  I had a feeling this might happen, which is why I hesitated.  The "final" version below (I've since tidied the veins up a bit).  Interestingly, I did try your darks on top of the light mass method, but it didn't work for me.  I found that if you do it alla prima you get blending, and working dry the shapes don't look right.  Obviously, I don't have the skillset to pull it off.  Oh well, a good learning exercise.  Not afraid of a complex background now  :)  In the flesh, it doesn't look too bad--this photo underexposed.  Maybe I should have just left it after the first shot and moved on to the next painting, as you say, but then I wouldn't have learned so much looking at it objectively.  
    (Maybe I will try and put some darks back in again...phew)

  • edited April 24
    Time to call it a day--it's not getting any better  :/  This has been a trial in values.  Quite frustrating.  The frond is still too pumped up, but adjusting one area means adjusting all areas (of the frond) and I don't want to work on it anymore.

  • I think you can call it finished, @Gary_Heath. You did a good job with a very difficult subject. The frond is great but I love the background most of all.  :)
  • @tassieguy Thanks for your kind words.  
  • You did well in tackling a difficult subject @Gary_Heath, the background is my favourite too.

    It sounds like you have become a little fed up with it, and we have all been there. As you mentioned though, it will have been a good learning exercise.

    So though it may not have turned out quite how you would have liked, you also mentioned that you are-not afraid of a complex background now.

    I’m about to go back to a piece that I worked on and had to leave for a while as I felt like I was going in circles.

    Its all good, and its all learning

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