how to move past the "simple statement"

Here are some urban paintings around the house. I've been playing around with artrage lately, very nice oil simulation there, interesting tool to try things out before going to a canvas, or just to sketch with the ipad in the bagpack!
I find myself systematically blocked at the "simple statement" stage after bloking in values like below. I don't really know how to move past that point to increase realism quality while keeping a loose brushstroke. what do you think would improve the realism in these paintings to achieve a more "stunning" effect? More detail? more value steps? Every time I try to take one of these further by continuing the work, adding details or anything, I end up destroying the painting... I am not seeking for a tight style or overdefined painting...
Any input before I try them on a real canvas?

o try


  • adridri

    I like the blocky style of these. Try looking from a distance. Half close your eyes. Looks great!

    Size makes a difference here. At 16x20 they will need some texture, depth and detail. Smaller panels would be just fine with this level of detail.

    Check out the many YouTube tutorials by Michael James Smith. He always starts with an acrylic block in and with a simple workflow recovers with textural details in oil paint to produce stunning work.

  • @dencal great, thanks. The texture may be what I am missing, I will check out his videos. I am working the same workflow regardless of the size, I should improve on this. Thanks again for the advice!
  • edited April 28
    These are really nice @adridri. I like all three and I think they would make beautiful paintings.

     I agree with @dencal about size and the amount of detail you would include.

     I'm not clear on whether you started with photos and then got them to look like paintings using the app you mentioned or whether you used a paint program and started from scratch. Anyway, I think it's time to get something onto canvas. I look forward to seeing what you do with these. :)
  • @tassieguy Thanks for the feedback, I did the paintings from scratch on a digital painting software, super quick like an hour each, to see if I can figure out problems and tweaks I'll have to do before moving to the canvas. They are from ref pics of mine. Ok I'll let you know how this goes! :)
  • I really like these just like they are.
  • They look like great block-ins.  I think for more realism you need less chroma.  Also, knock down the strong whites.  You might also consider pushing the dark values darker in some areas but maybe don’t over do that if you want to keep the value range more toward the lighter range.
  • I think the marks for the light areas of the foliage might look better with a more curved brush stroke. They look a bit square at the moment in places.
  • @GTO thanks,  I'll be carefull with these when I go for the canvas version, thanks. I knew I pushed my whites too much but I couldn't help it. I'll post the new version!
  • One approach is the way I was taught. You capture the simple tonal statements - not painting objects but blocks of value and colour with harder, soft or lost edges. Very similar to what you have here, and you've done it beautifully. You always stand back and just paint the next biggest difference and the forms emerge like something coming into focus. Then you have choices : you may keep going finer or simply bring a section up to more crisp focus as though the eye has settled on it in a glance, or variations of this. Never get stuck painting the hair on the bee's knee, always bring the whole painting along together. Never stand at the canvas, stand back, see that difference, charge the brush and make that mark. Very painterly approach. I've gone further at times towards photo realism because of the subject.
  • I really wish I had a good enough skill at value comprehension to paint like this. :)  

    Well done. 
  • Well, here it is, real paint on real canvas! It's my first big size, well big enough for me... I did try to apply all your advices, and for the texture I tried to play with the knife, tough one! Anythings that you think needs tweaking to bring it to finish?
  • @Abstraction my focal point emerged like you said, little by little, great advice thanks! How do you feel about this one, keep going or leave it as it is?
  • Nice work @adridri

    So you do a study on your ipad ?

    You have inspired me to perhaps try as I have an iPad pr but have never used the ar tools on it.

  • Just a few thoughts:

  • @Richard_P thanks, that's very constructive. Does this look better now? I Darkened the building, Watched the soft edge. I did not feel like changing the  Sky, basically because i don’t know how to not make flat passive skies not boring and uninteresting… thanks again!
  • @MichaelD yes i use the ipad for sketching and preparatory color notes. That’s a nice tool. Try it with ArtRage, it’s a cheap option very good at simulating oils.
  • Thank you @adridri, I may try that

  • edited May 1
    @adrdri, you've done a fine job with this.

     In some ways it's unfortunate that you posted the images that you made in ArtRage because we sort of expected your painting to look more like the digital one. Yours is softer and does not have the artificial crispness of the digital painting. It is more painterly. That's good. But the crispness in the digital paintings is also pleasing in its own way. Perhaps when you do the next one you could try to get a bit more of that crispness. It will mean careful colour checking and crisp, clean brush strokes with not much mixing on the canvas. 

    Also, it helps us appreciate your work more if you present it something like this:

    I look forward to your next one.  :)

    PS    Is this building in Paris?
  • @tassieguy thank you very much for your advices, I'll be carefull with the framing, it presents better!
    The building is the Police building in front of notre Dame in Paris city center, where I take the subway after work (a painting not to offer to yellow jackets!).

    I do agree that there are some qualities in the digital that I did not manage to translate in the real one. I must admit I was a little bit overwhelmed in the process, and color checking from a monitor is not as easy as described by Mark using the colot checker (which I built), or the laminated photo. I saw some thread in the forum that deal with this, I will dive into that!
  • As mentioned in an earlier post, perhaps the sky could have more realistic softer edges as to not compete with the very well done and classic shapes of the buildings. Also, the digital rendition has a lighter roof tops that really pop out against the dark sky. Really very nice composition. 
  • @whuntthanks, I can see why the busy sky is disturbing. I was mainly experimenting here, but I'll keep that in mind for the next one! Yes the composition really struck me while walking on the street. That's one of the difficulties in plein air: for me the nicest compositions always arise randomly in day to day life, almost never when I seek something to paint with my equipment in the bag pack! Photo and studio painting are the only solution in that case...
  • edited May 3
    @adridri, you don't need to laminate the photo. That's a pain. I just use a small piece of clear plastic about 4cm square.  When it gets covered in paint you can just toss it and get a new piece.

    I recognized that building from my year in Paris. I had an apartment in Le Marais and I used to walk around that area a lot.

    Il y a longtemps mai j'ai toujours mes souvenirs. :)
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