Composition Questions Answered - Final Painting

edited August 2021 in Painting

Painting is easy when you don't know how, but very difficult when you do.  -Edgar Degas

It's so true! The more you know about painting, the harder it gets LOL! I found this wonderful reference photo and have it sketched onto my panel. Now I'm questioning the composition. I really like the reeds and their reflections in the water, which seems to create an intimate seclusion in the landscape.  But the reeds seem to make the eye stop rather than move through the picture?  I have edited the photo to add some depth and wonder if it would work better? The first is the ref photo, the second my edited version. Does the edited version work better compositionally?

Ref Photo

Edited Photo


  • I like the reeds, they lead you to the hut. The only thing is I feel like the values are too similar. I tried to boost some of the values with this one, but not sure if it really helps or not:

  • Thank you @Richard_P.  Oh, thank you for taking the time to adjust values.  It does subtly help the value range.  It looks to be late evening or early morning sun. 

    I initially really liked this composition but then that part of me that is trying to learn more about composition has me second-guessing myself.  I should just go with my gut insticts like I used to unless I see something that really is off in a composition.  

    Thank you again for looking and the way you adjusted the values.  I really appreciate it :)
  • I like the version without the reeds.  It feels more open.   And the emphasis is on the boat in that one.
  • edited July 2021
    @A_Time_To_Paint, I, too, prefer the composition without the reeds. You could also have just one or two smaller patches of reeds rather than having them extend right across the picture.  I do this sort of thing all the time with my landscape photos - I move rocks and trees and hills around and eliminate details that detract. I think most landscape painters do this. With a portrait or a still life you get to arrange things into a pleasing composition. We really can't do that with landscape. We have to make sketches and studies to come up with a composition.  But photography and computers have made it easier for us. I think what you are doing is a good way to hone your composition skills.

    Love the quote by Degas.  :)
  • Thank you @GTO and @tassieguy.  It's really fun to use a photo editing program and change things in a landscape.  The red boat emphasis is what I'm going for @GTO.  I believe with the boat being tied offshore that some reeds would probably be a good idea @tassieguy, as I believe reeds grow in more shallow water, indicating anyone could wade out from the little cabin to the boat and not have to swim.  Thank you both very much for stopping by and your very helpful comments.  I really appreciate it :)  
  • Thanks everyone for your feedback.  Will continue to study composition, as it is, I believe, a week point for me.  Here is the blocked-in version for this painting 16x12.  It might be hard to distinguish, but that lighter green "wall" in front of the little camps is going to be a stand of reeds.  On the canvas, it looks to me like the boat's owner could wade out from the camp to the little rowboat now.  I've used alkyd fast-drying oil paints and Liquin so it should be dry enough later today to continue working on it.  I GOT SOME TIME TO PAINT!!!  Woo Hoo!!

  • I think the composition works well now, @A_Time_To_Paint:)
  • That is looking good @A_Time_To_Paint
    As to your question, I might have been tempted to have a used boat path through the reeds leading to the beyond; but perhaps you tried that and it did not give enough of a sense of the space behind?
    Will be interested to see how it develops.
  • Just a suggestion . . . turn the boat around so it points toward the house.  That way the house looks out to the right, the tree line brings the eye down to the boat, the boat points toward the house . . . a complete circle, and you keep the viewer's eye inside the painting.
  • I like what you did cutting back the reeds.  That leaves the distant view open.
  • I got this as finished as I can today and really appreciate everyone who offered their advice on composition.  I opted for a little stand of reeds on the right side to create a path through the water.  I'm pretty happy with how the light plays in this scene.  Here is the final painting 12x16 on panel.  Got my signature on it after taking this photo.

  • The additional reeds makes me feel that I am standing on shore viewing the boat.  It gives the scene a cozier feeling.
  • Thank you @GTO very much.  I felt it was way too open on that side of the canvas and it needed something.  
  • Yes, it needed something heavier there than just the post, although, I did like the post!  Nicely balanced now.  
    Great job.
  • Thank you @toujours very much.  It was really fun and helpful in this group to veer from the photo for a better composition, asking for advice along the way.  Couldn't have done it without everyone.  It has boosted my confidence to continue to do so.  
  • I like how the composition ended up, @A_Time_To_Paint. The clump of reeds hold you in the picture space so you don't fly out to the left. I also like how you have handled the trees. They look great.  :)
  • Many thanks @tassieguy, many, many thanks  :)
  • Wow, I missed this one.

    I'm so impressed at how you took the proper time and reworked the composition so skillfully.  The result is fantastic, the water perfectly wet and peaceful.

    A little rowboat will always ensure a beautiful painting!  You nailed this.  Can't wait to see more of your work.
  • This  painting would be just the thing for someone with a lot of stress to have hanging in their work space.  It just exudes peace and tranquility.  Besides the overall feeling it evokes, it is very well done.  Beautiful painting.
  • Thank yoiu so much @allforChrist and @oilpainter1950 for your wonderful comments <3 .  I couldn't have done it without everyone's help who provided information on the composition.  It has been a real learning process and can't thank everyone enough.
  • @A_Time_To_Paint
    The painting is color balanced well. The emotion is good. I like the boat.
    There are 2 things.
    The horizon is impossible based on the perspective. You are looking down into the boat.
    And being a row boat guy I'm wondering how the guy in the house gets to his boat. The mooring space doesn't seem to be adequate  for a larger boat to return to this tender?.
  • I love quandaries like this.

    I don't know a lot about boats and large bodies of water, soI  may be barking up the wrong tree, 
    KingstonFineArt, however......

    Is it possible it could be a tidal area and the tide is in?

    Perhaps the water has knocked the boat to tilt it slightly towards the viewer?

    Or it may be an unsolvable mystery!
  • edited August 2021
    I always wanted to learn how to draw, but I only succeeded with the help of paintings by numbers. Paintings by numbers are a great way to feel like an artist, develop useful qualities and have an interesting time with the whole family. To do this, you can not even be able to draw: it is enough to buy a set, find out what coloring by numbers is, and start an exciting lesson. Pay attention to the children, which child did not hold a pencil, chalk or brush at least once in his life and did not draw. It doesn't matter what kind of drawings they were, or just doodles, or extraordinary faces with smiles or elementary landscapes, the main thing is that the child wanted to create. I bought my child a picture by numbers as a gift and he really liked it.
  • edited August 2021
    I'm ok with the horizon. It's just lost in the haze.  The boat looks fine to me - it's very close to what's in the reference. The place looks like the shore of a river or lake (which explains the reeds) and so it would be shallow so you could walk out to the boat. I love the way the reeds and the trees are painted. 
Sign In or Register to comment.