Stuck in painting plein air

Dear Artists,

This is my first landscape and also first outdoor. The source of light is mostly constant, but still I am not able to pull it through. How do I fix it? Any suggestions ? I am yet to add details in foreground, but not sure about what needs to be fixed, in all I don't like it :(



  • edited April 12
    What time of day was it? Are you near the tropics?
    One of the first things that defines the drama of a painting is the light and the shade. Here the values of everything are very close to each other. The shadows are not strong enough to give the eyes some rest and define the light.
    I hope it's ok but I put your painting in photoshop to strengthen the shadows and brighten and warm where the sun is hitting. I also made the flowers slightly stronger in colour. Suddenly the sunlight pops. Where the bush seemed flat, the shade creates depth. When painting something in sunlight, sometimes a tiny bit of yellow in your white will create that warm colourful sensation - because titanium white can make colours go a little 'chalky' and lose the richness you see with your eyes.
    The dark and the light define the form. I hope that's ok. I was just playing with your lovely detailed work based on my interpretation.

  • @Abstraction Thank you very much.I am in Bangalore (India),  the North light is coming from right, but not very strong because it's mostly cloudy. Yes I agree the values were too close. Let me strengthen the shadows and make flowers little intense. Thanks again for your help
  • I agree with Abstractions suggestions.
    I am not a landscape painter so I can't give much help, but something to consider is to take photo's or work pleine aire in the morning or afternoon on sunny days.  Overcast skies will make the scene look flat.  I have done some pleine aire painting in the past and understand how challenging that can be.  The light changes and the shadows move so quickly, you've got to be fast.
  • I agree with @Abstraction. Painting a scene in dull light is not easy and trying to do so en plein air is very difficult. There's no time for detail - you just have to get the values and forms right, lay them in boldly and leave them. I do mainly landscape but I couldn't do anything more than a small sketch en plein air. What you needed in this painting was more contrast. @Abstrction's advice and his changes do a good job of illustrating how to overcome the problems. 
  • @[email protected] @GTO i tried to strengthen the shadows and intensified the it little better? probably i should stop working on this, i may mess it up. if there's anything glaringly wrong, please highlight. thanks for your time

  • Yes it does look better.  You’ve added some space within the left shadow of the shrub, a lot more shape to the shrub and you’ve added more detail and abstraction to the foreground.
    What artists do you like?  What kind of artwork inspires you? Subject matter and style? 
    Sometimes I feel unable to critique a painting because I can see it taking on so many directions and I don’t know which direction the artist is interested in exploring.
  • edited April 15
    @vartikasinha sorry for such a late reply. I'll explain my process of plein air painting. This might create some contradictions with other's theories. But here it is.

    When I see your painting, I would say follow a composition method. Rule of third is the easiest. You can see the object is there but slightly misses the first point.

    I would have gone with this. But with much concentration I would have gone for a more radical change which would involve lighting dynamics as well.

    For the colors and lighting dynamics with your composition I have come up with something like this digitally. More contrast and more focus towards the central focal point area. All other shadows are complementing to the drama in a scene. I also altered the shapes for randomness in nature. When I do plein air I just do not copy nature. I do a linear and tonal drawing that establishes the composition so that there is no doubt.

    You can see the highlights are more or less on the first and third points. CFP is illuminated. Obviously this is my digital plein air painting upon your composition. Think of contrast and connectivity of shadows.

    My way:
    Value (contrast edges included)
  • It is better but @kaustavM illustrates how sunlight creates drama and rich colour. It separates the stage into the stars in the spotlight to highlight them (sorry, theatre metaphor).  I probably wouldn't paint Plein air on an overcast day unless I wanted a sombre mood.
  • edited April 16
    @Abstraction I think the theory would be more useful on an overcast day. Here is a plein air, the photo and the painting can be compared. My goal remains to produce a good painting. I can take certain decisions at that moment to make the scene better. I think the painting looks better than the scene itself.

  • @GTO Thank you very much. I like how Kaustav and Mark paints landscape. I have no idea about old masters in Landscape. This is my first attempt of painting landscape and that too plein air. I am learning so much from you guys. Do you have any recommendations on  Books on landscape?
  • @kaustavM Your analysis is super cool, let me try to absorb it 
    1) You have mentioned about rule of thirds, could you elaborate how the first point is missed? is it because of the shadow area?
    2) What is the rule of CFP? should it be mostly highlighted?

    Thank you very much for your time and explanation, really appreciate it. Do you recommend any books on landscape? I am keen to learn and practice landscape. Thanks  
  • Hi @vartikasinha here are some observations:

    1. Rule of Thirds: four lines decide a plane in to six blocks and four points inside the plane. Your main object should be on one of the points. Now you have to compose your picture on the basis of the placement of the main item. The main tree and the highlight in that tree is slightly away from one of the points. 
    2. Central Focal Point: old masters' theory. Central block should have the brightest light. This is not mandatory but you must lead the viewer's eye to something towards the main object, which is generally placed in the CFP the middle. My painting above also has a light on the road in the CFP region.
    Most important book is nature but Carlson's book, Richard Schmidt book Alla Prima are famous for beginners. Stefan Baumann's YouTube channel is most beneficial.
  • GTOGTO -
    edited April 25
    kaustavM’s recommendation of Richard Schmidt’s book is spot on.  Schmidt is a master if plein air  landscape painting.
  • @kaustavM @GTO Thank you very much . I will keep it in mind
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