Help with set-up Please.

I have been trying to get a set-up using this ceramic horse for weeks.  I'm about to give up on it, but wanted to know what some of you thought about this composition. I tried every color as backdrop you could think of. This was the best of the lot and I'm not crazy about it either. It still needs to be cropped too.  Any suggestions will be appreciated including just ditch it.


  • I like the colors, the maroon and green look great. I think once you get it cropped it would be good. I'm sure that others with more experience will be better able to chime in with better advice. 
  • CBGCBG -
    edited November 21

    Perhaps having the light in the scene makes things a little too harsh?  Maybe simplify by choosing fewer objects to complement/accompany the horse?

    Also, this might serve as inspiration.

  • I think it's a great composition, and I actually like the dramatic lighting. I'm not crazy about the dagger however. You could try putting the pistol in its place, there's no harm in simplifying. 
  • I'd crop it comme ça, and move the candle a tad to the left so that it overlaps more with the horse. 
  • I'll leave the composition to the experts. I think it's going to be interesting.
    I'm confused by the lighting, but probably you just took a snap to show us. Do you have two sources? The candle alone would normally be a warmer, more intimate lighting. It does look like the light is coming from the candle (based on angles) but it seems far too cool for candle-light in the photo. Is the candle an electric light? If it is real or you want it to appear like a real candle this is overexposed. The way I would compensate is to look at a lit candle (or a real one) in that level of light to see how it appears to your eyes. Then take an image (probably in better light) that replicates that more subdued look. I would expect to see the orange/yellow, the wick, etc. Then the lighting on everything else would also be warmer. I have two candles in my current painting. Anyway, it's probably just a quick snap you took and I've been rambling away a lot of nonsense.
  • I love the horse, the bowl of grapes and the fabric. I think the composition would work. I agree with @IlariKoskimies about the dagger - something about its shape doesn't work for me. And I think @Abstraction is right about the light - it should be softer/warmer. 

    If you paint this, will it be from life or from a photo you take of the setup? If you use a photo, you could adjust the lighting in an image editor such as Photoshop or Affinity Photo and you could move things around easily. 

    Whatever setup you end up with I'm sure the painting will be magnificent like your previous still lifes. 
  • Hi @oilpainter1950. This is just my personal opinion so take what you can use and discard the rest. 1) Maroon background with grapes (both grey/greenish and red) in silver bowl and horse, or 2) everything you have there except the horse. I know you asked about composition, but I would start with colors. 

    Others here have already commented on the items. In particular the knife. Good luck!
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