beyond the notan..the cliffs of gayhead


Well I began painting the cliffs & was off to what I thought a good start..I was actually very pleased with how it was going! Then.....well, I kept watching the workshop video & tried to incorporate the information..I wound up with cliffs that looked like California instead of Massachussetts!!  I scraped a few times & came up with a sort of hybrid cliff painting!

My I wish I could turn the clock back:(

..I wasworried about the gray foreground rocks being too light, so added color..then I got lost in the workshop video

and the end result..well..not quite the end since I need to add more light to the & horizon, maybe mid cliff face... used a second source photo from the opposite side of the cliffs as well as my first above

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Comment by Lori Ippolito on September 1, 2013 at 16:37
I could still kick myself Christine! Oh well..that's what it's all about..learning what to well as what not to do! i really did like that first one & was too concerned about making it 'fit' the workshop..lesson learned!
Comment by Christine Lewis on September 1, 2013 at 13:24

Lori I agree when Stu said that your first one was really quite good. I was very drawn to it when I first saw it. I almost couldn't believe you had made changes ) =

I appreciate both of you discussing these things though, very helpful for us all. We just need to keep working at this.

Comment by Stuart J. Gourlay on August 17, 2013 at 4:53

Lori, I am glad this was helpful to you.  This is a tough but important lesson from Richard.  I look forward to seeing your next try.   Stu

Comment by Lori Ippolito on August 17, 2013 at 4:42
Wow Stu! Thanks for taking the time to do this! It really does clarify the to keep my paints from getting muddled! I will certainly give it another try..I think this is such a valuable lesson!!! Hope you have a great day & again a big thanks!
Comment by Stuart J. Gourlay on August 16, 2013 at 16:59

Lori, I know you are hard at work on re-doing this, and I am sure you know what you did, but since this is a blog others can read, I am going to post some 3 value black and white images to maybe help someone else with the same problem.   You did a great job in selecting your best Notan, but a Notan is a 2 value study and your painting should really have 3 or 4 values to succeed.   Richard gave us a 3 value challenge, so these are all 3 value studies.   First, is your final painting; notice how it is really only 2 values with some waves highlighted; your focal point will be the waves and no one will be noticing the light house.   The second 3 value study is your underpainting and it is mainly 2 values also but with a lot of light and your eye is led up the hill to the lighthouse ; your lighthouse could easily be your focal point and you could have easily put in some more darks.  The third 3 value study is Richard's final painting ; he clearly has 3 values in the painting and the light leads you into the lighted beach and along the beach.   It is easy to do this with your painting as you progress and here is how:  Photograph your painting, open in your photo editor and change to black and white (Enhance menu in photoshop), then create a 3 value posterized view (Adjustment menu in photoshop and click on posterize and the 3 for the values), save and print with laser or other printer.  This is handy for layout from a photo and is what Richard was doing in the video.    Stu

Comment by Stuart J. Gourlay on August 15, 2013 at 4:44

Lori, what I see in your reference photos are a lighter sky, darker green foliage except the highlights, darker foreground rocks with more chroma and contrast all in shade, a chalky cool gray area in the sunlit cliff and grayer distant cliff in the shadows.  I think that you really had enough chroma in your starting work and you really didn't need to do anything but accentuate your darks in the foreground in shadow areas, pop some lights into the vegatation just under the lighthouse and the lighthous itself.  In your final painting, you muddied your lights and darks and overstated your waves and drew all attention away from the lighthouse.  You just plain overworked it.  Been there, done that!  I would go back and start over the way you first did it and use the grays to accentuate your chroma -- per Libby Tolley's book using blueish grays next to the oranges in the cliffs and reddish or red-purplish grays next to your foliage.  Your greens look very good in the first painting and I really like your rock shapes.   I would even consider submitting your first work by posting it and labeling in Workshop24 and do a second one; too late to just scrape it off.    Stu

Comment by Lori Ippolito on August 15, 2013 at 4:20
I think part of the trouble I had with my grays was using the premixed piles without exception..since they were rather similar, everything wound up rather similar!!... I'm going to out that in the workshop discussion thread..I'm guessing others may have had similar issues..
Comment by Lori Ippolito on August 15, 2013 at 4:16
Thanks very much for the terrific info Stu!! You hit the nail in the head..mid-value crisis!! Lol! That is something I often find I need to address in my paintings. I will definitely check into the two books. I'm getting a lot out of the discussions here..just have to get more time at the easel to put it all together. Crazy hours at the office so I tend to paint after 11pm!! Need more hours in the day:) or I need to retire !! Or I need to put this darn computer down & paint!!!! Many thanks again for your help.
While I'm toying, let me pick your brain..if you look at my beginning cliffs above, how would you have addressed them in terms of the workshop? My thinking was to warm up the front rocks..which I get in terms of warm colors coming forward, though when I look at the photo, that's not what I see....then I needed to fade out the cliffs in the background as I saw them too dark a value for the atmospheric perspective to be correct..and so the story goes until I no longer had my painting! I may still try it again though this may not be the best photo for this exercise. I have trouble with 'artistic' license as you can see!
Comment by Stuart J. Gourlay on August 15, 2013 at 2:36

Lori, here's something else that may help you with your grays.  These 2 pages are from Elizabeth Tolley's 2007 book "Oil Painter's Solution Book: Landscapes".  This book is available in hardcover or paperback and again, I highly recommend it.   Stu

Comment by Stuart J. Gourlay on August 14, 2013 at 3:52

Lori, your painting is a bit of a "mid-value" crisis.  As you painted it you lost some of the value structure of your start (which was really quite good).  Now you have muted most of your very nice shadow color and darkened the whole painting so that it looks like a stormy day.  It is my opinion that Richard really made the sky too dark in his demo.  Since the sky is the source of all of the natural light on the Earth (direct light from the sun, diffused light from the sky and reflected light from adjacent objects), too dark a sky gives a somber picture.  If the darkness is just a fog bank, there will be clear sky above.   If the fog bank goes higher, actually there is a lot more light in the sky and a lot more color is seen.  Richard's latest blog from Kauai depicts a beach scene with some fog but sun coming through clouds on the beach.  Notice how bright the colors are on the cliffs.   The best depiction and explanation of this phenomenon of scattering light by an overcast sky that I kinow of is from James Gurney's book published in 2010: "Color and Light: A Guide for the Realish Painter".  I have attached a scan of pages 30 and 31; I am not sure you can read all the text, but look at how bright the colors are and the absence of most shadows because of the diffuse lighting.  Shadows directly underneath objects are quite warm because of the absence of the blue secondary light source (blue sky) that is present on a cloudless day.  If you don't have this book yet, I highly recommend it and also James Gurney's blog.  Stu


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