Snowy Landscape Value study

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Old 07 July 2013   #1
Snowy Landscape Value study

Hi!
I've been studying fundamentals for only a few weeks now, my biggest problem is seeing value and being hasty to make something look good, which only makes it look unplanned etc.
It will take years, but it's hard to progress if I'm the only one judging myself.

Anyways, here is a painting I drew, no references. The goal was just to study light and colors, but I wanted to put that into a good composition as well.

So the question is, what did I succeed at and what did I fail at?
Composition, are your eyes floating around the image with nothing to lead it? Do you float outside the canvas? Is there too much that grabs your attention?
Values, does it look like there is distance in the image?

[IMG][/IMG]

I wanted the first read to be the middle of the tree then your eyes goes down along the dirt road covered with snow. The side of the road will lead you up to the left side of the image and the tiny tree looking thing will lead you up to the mountain, which is part of the middle ground, but still very far...thats at least what I wanted to convey. Anyways, I wanted the viewer to CLIMB the mountain, so I made sure there wasn't a easy road up the mountain, you have to jump with your eyes on the small cliffs until you reach the top. Only to be catched by the small smoke cloud things that will lead you to the right back to the tree, and then down again.
 
Old 07 July 2013   #2
Originally Posted by ahmedwehbe: Hi!
I've been studying fundamentals for only a few weeks now, my biggest problem is seeing value and being hasty to make something look good, which only makes it look unplanned etc.
It will take years, but it's hard to progress if I'm the only one judging myself.

Anyways, here is a painting I drew, no references. The goal was just to study light and colors, but I wanted to put that into a good composition as well.

So the question is, what did I succeed at and what did I fail at?
Composition, are your eyes floating around the image with nothing to lead it? Do you float outside the canvas? Is there too much that grabs your attention?
Values, does it look like there is distance in the image?

[IMG][/IMG]

I wanted the first read to be the middle of the tree then your eyes goes down along the dirt road covered with snow. The side of the road will lead you up to the left side of the image and the tiny tree looking thing will lead you up to the mountain, which is part of the middle ground, but still very far...thats at least what I wanted to convey. Anyways, I wanted the viewer to CLIMB the mountain, so I made sure there wasn't a easy road up the mountain, you have to jump with your eyes on the small cliffs until you reach the top. Only to be catched by the small smoke cloud things that will lead you to the right back to the tree, and then down again.



Good attempt, but what happens is the eye follows the road, and is trapped where it intersects with the tree. I would remove the tree, it serves no purpose, or at least move it to the right.

Okay, so, let's talk color.

Snow generally does not have green in it. Snow is defined by it's shadows - the colors in the lower right are better for your snow, with the shadows going more purple and violet the deeper the shadow is. I grew up in snow country, and just moved out of snow country, I know snow well. the only time I've ever seen green is either reflected grass/leaves, or in frozen seawater, like in the glaciers I've seen in Alaska. (Glaciers have colors that are impossible to capture with paint or photo, it's literally breathtaking). I would recommend that you unify your colors across the entire painting, using the same blues and cool tones, because right now it's scattered and distracting and feels very odd to the eye.

Your sky is too dark for the lighting indicated, and your lighting is all over the place. Snow scenes either have bright highlights and stark shadows if there's sun and no clouds, and the sky will be a light sky blue, fading towards white towards the horizon. Your sky is more "dusk" in value. You also need to add more highlights, using whites, to indicate your light source.

One thing to keep in mind - snow will melt on sun-exposed sides of a tree, and remain in the shadows. What you've painted is impossible. The same thing is happening in the mountains - there's a "logic" to snow, how it gathers, how it melts off, how it's more gathered and the coverage more the higher up you go.

Lets talk about visual cues. The eye will read "distance" if you use color and light appropriately - the further an object is to the eye, the lighter it will be, and it will reflect the light source/ambient light. So, in a scene like this, the mountain's darkest value should be lighter than anything in the mid-ground, and the same for the mid-ground and foreground. That will read as "distance" to the eye. You should be using the same blue and the same value of blue in the mountains. The towers on the mountain are too dark, and you should add some of the reflected colors in them, to add atmosphere to it, and indicate distance.

Your smoke needs some work, too, it generally doesn't form "puffs' like that, it's usually a solid plume that fades the further from the source it gets. You did get the color corrects, because if it's a white smoke, it will reflect a lot of the colors of the sky.

So, to sum up:

Unify your color palette across the painting, adjust for realism (cool colors, no green)

Remove or move the tree.

Establish your light source, and adjust your lighting and shadows, and add more highlights.

Rework the values of the background, mid-ground and foreground, to add atmosphere and to give visual cues for depth and distance.

And, most of all, keep going! You are right, practice is the right way to learn this. You just need to learn to see the world as an artist, and how to capture it.
 
Old 07 July 2013   #3
Besides Bill's very helpful critique, I want to advise you to use photo references. As a beginner, you understand very little of the complexities of how light and color behaves, or how the various details in Mother Nature. Without using photo references, you're really just guessing and faking things, while not having the required understanding to make them convincing. You need to build up your visual library and your visual memory of how things should look and behave, as well as to prevent you from making egregious mistakes. The truth is, even advanced professional artists still need references, because the human brain simply can't store that much information and remember so much of what our world should look like--there's just too much to learn and remember. So if advanced professional artists must consult references in order to do their best work, then beginners definitely need to use references.
 
Old 07 July 2013   #4
Thank you both for this information, it's easy to be "blinded" by your own work as a newbie.

BillyWJ - I feel jealous, I've never seen glaciers irl, I grew up in northern parts of sweden, lots of snow and ice, but no glaciers. I wanted to portray that amazing blue color and fresh air during winter that leaves you in awe and wanting more, but it's like you said, it's really hard to do that.

I'll do some rework on this painting following your advice, I'll post it here when I finish. (It's gonna take a while)
 
Old 07 July 2013   #5
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