Hi everyone!  I started painting 3 years ago and now feel I've hit a bit of a plateau where I don't seem to be getting better.  I've joined a local art association in our small town and it seems there's alot of watercolor experience there but I use acrylic so I need some helpful critique and tips in that regard.  I'm posting a painting that I started "plein-air" and worked on in the studio yesterday.  I stopped painting right after I messed up my attempt to show dappled sunlight on my tree.  Ready to abandon this one since I also find the whole thing just too "stiff" looking.  I'd love to hear some feedback from some of you as to how to liven this painting up and to give the feeling of the beautiful, sunny, late morning day that it was when I started this one.  Thanks!

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Congratulations Louise for getting out and attempting this!  I actually think it is quite nice over all.  I believe in his book the famous John Carlson, (his book Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting ....called the "bible" by some, very inexpensive on Amazon) said he never started a en plein air any closer than 50' to him.  So, one thing is you have way to much detail in the foreground to deal with.  The only other major thing is you dont understand yet about color recession.  Yellow is the first thing we stop seeing as we get off in the distance, then reds, then greens, then turning to purple and finally blue in the very far distance.  So perhaps your golden hill in the back could have been a muted green or a very, very dull yellow (if you were actually seeing a gold hill back there).  Your gold would be way to saturated to be that far back with atmospheric perspective.

My only other thought is the barn's edges.  The edge far away should be softened a lot to make it appear farther away.  Look at the "greats" that do en plein air that you admire and really pay attention to their edges. soften, soften, soften. (But that is my understanding and how I now deal with edges.)   

Cant help you with acrylics as I only do oils.  But the principles of en plein air apply to any medium I think.  

PS  Have you considered doing Richard's monthly workshops?  My friend has done them for a long time and she is now painting some amazing paintings.  BTW he does some in acrylic.  If the $20 a month is a bit much on a regular basis,  you can buy the DVDs of the workshops for 4 workshops for $20.  The advantage of the online workshops is you get to get feed back from the others in the group.  

PPS I just discovered Phil Starke (Between the Palette Scrapings blog) and watched about 20 of his Youtube videos yesterday.  He discusses these color recessions I spoke of with examples on the screen you can see.  I thought they were really good!   

Hugs, Roena

Thank you so much for your comments Roena!  I only joined this group a week ago so definitely will participate in Richard's monthly workshops but, already, with your comments alone, I feel like a door just opened.  You've given me lots of good stuff to research and start working on, thank you!

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