Tonal Realism: in search of rightness

My last post spoke about how shittily slow I was to pick up on what was actually expected in Tonal Realism this term. Needing to come up with something I actually wanted to paint for the remainder of the year was pretty anxiety inducing.

After my fair share of wallowing around making groaning noises, I made a list of everything that was non-negotiable:

  1. I needed to be actually interested in what I was painting. I wanted something fun and whimsical.
  2. I needed a “base” photo of an environment – bonus points if it had something in perspective which I could relate other things to.
  3. I needed at least 2 other photos to work from.

Turns out that photoshopping things in doesn’t meet the assessment criteria, so my initial attempt (which consisted of a composite photoshopped image) wasn’t going to cut it. I needed to actually plonk something in to the environment that would give a sense of scale, and show my working out in perspective.

These are the photos which I wanted to use for inspiration/reference:

The image on the left is me, but not wanting to do a self-portrait, I wanted to replace the figure using the two central images. I wasn’t too happy with the background of the photo, so thought I could pop the forest scene back there, and throw in a few bird houses to satisfy the relational scale in perspective. They are also nice angular structures, which should convey light and scale changes due to perspective well.

So being relatively happy with that concept, I went about drawing it all up on a big sheet of paper, mapping in the horizon line according to the main image, and vanishing points according to where the swing hits the horizon line. I don’t have the vanishing points here because they’re way off the page, but you can imagine them by following the lines back in perspective 🙂

Here are the various workings out of the bird house placement. I used the swing size as an indicator of how big the bird house might be, and then dropped another one in the background for context.

It was at this stage where I went through several iterations of the composition to arrive at my final plan.

The next task is to do a painted tonal sketch. I’m so pleased to finally be up to a stage where I can paint. It’s been a long frustrating slog, not through lack of trying. I’d say I’ve learned a lot already without even having touched paint. I’m really pleased with my composition at the moment – it’s something I’ve struggled with on occasion, so to be able to have the armature of the rectangle working so nicely for me is quite a treat.

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