Friday, October 26, 2012

Newest Painting Is Complete--"River View at Kingsley Plantation"

     I felt a little rushed to complete this 18" x 24" acrylic on gallery-wrapped canvas in time to deliver it to Paddiwhack Gallery for a special exhibit. However, I am quite pleased with the result. "River View at Kingsley Plantation" utilized my cabbage palm painting photos and study, mentioned in the most recent previous post. It may not seem like a big deal to everyone, but creating the palm trunks and especially the palm canopy (and even the part of a canopy visible on the far right) required special study and careful work.

     Then, the first try after my studies produced a very nice canopy on the furthest palm away from the viewer (which appears in the middle of the three seen), but I painted much of it out and started again. That canopy had been very high on the canvas and was not seen in full (in other words, the viewer of the painting saw maybe the lower two-thirds of it at most). On e-critique advice from Linda Blondheim and on further reflection myself, I concluded that for good composition and better balance, that entire palm canopy needed to be lower so that it would be seen in full. Other changes from the main reference photo (seen below)--made to enhance the composition--included painting in a more interesting sky, adding a kite, which is one of Florida's gorgeous soaring shore birds, and simplifying the tall grasses.  My literal rendition of the bulkhead along the river at the Kingsley Plantation National Parks historic site bothered Linda. She would have preferred a softer, more organic, curving line, perhaps of the mud flats that line the river bank at low tide. I did consider her suggestion to replace the bulkhead, knowing that it would certainly work well. However, in the end, I stayed with the straight  bulkhead as it is, partly because viewers who have visited Kingsley Plantation have seen it there and partly because something about the sharper angles appealed to me as a change from some of the softer composition edges I have used in other pieces. 

     You can see other changes from the actual scene that I made in the painting. But, you can also see that this particular photo already represented a composition that appealed to me without major rearrangement. Compared to the times that I have used a reference photo that had appealing elements but was not composed well and required major revision in painting, beginning with a solid photo composition is much simpler and more satisfying.

Question of the day: Do you personally prefer fairly realistic--or even near photo-realistic paintings--or some other type such as impressionistic or abstract?


  1. Nice work, Mary. I think it depends on the subject. The bottom lines is does the painting truely capture the aura, essence, soul (I'm not sure of the right word) then I like it....:)

  2. I have never been to kingsley plantation. It lookes like a very nice place to go have a pinci some very soon. I would like to go some time very and have a pinci that be so much fun. I never have been on a pinci. I would love to go on a pinci there.

  3. I love the reflection of the foliage that you added in to the water. That looks awesome! And the soaring kite adds a lot too. I am amazed at artists that can paint near photo-realistic paintings. I think their talent is spectacular, but I actually prefer paintings that are a bit more impressionistic. Maybe being able to see how the artist interprets the scene in their own way. If a painting looks too much like a photo, why not just take a photo in the first place? Just my thoughts....

    Great painting Mary!

  4. Thank you for your insightful, open-minded comment, TB. Your view makes a lot of sense to me; I find that I can enjoy paintings from a variety of styles, depending, as you say, on what they convey to me of the artist's view of the subject and on how "connected" I feel to the work.

    Yes, Kingsley Plantation is a lovely place, Anon, a perfect place to enjoy the beauty of nature and walk some trails or have a picnic. The history of this particular, quite unusual, plantation is also fascinating. It's amazing that a woman of color came to be in charge of the operations there and her management was truly innovative, compared to other plantations of the time.

  5. Hi Lisa! Thank you for your kind comments on this painting. I absolutely agree with you that it does not make sense for a painter to try to copy a photo. Yet, some so-called photo-realism departs in significant ways from what the artist saw in nature or from the reference photo even though the painting may look like it duplicates nature. I appreciate your insight that you like to see how an artist interprets a scene; there must be that additional personal, emotional, or impressionistic element to give a painting impact that resonates with the viewer.