Critique please? Moonlit Mountains [Archive] - Artist Forum

: Critique please? Moonlit Mountains

01-16-2013, 04:45 PM
I drew this a couple of weeks ago, and it was my first drawing in over 13 years! I've recently started painting (acrylics, my first two paintings are posted in the acrylic's forum), and wanted to paint this scene. Are there any critiques for this sketch? I'd hate to paint it and then realize that it was flawed in some huge way (shadow going the wrong way and whatnot, lol).

Thanks in advance!

01-17-2013, 06:40 AM
Well I think this should translate nicely to a painting and is an excellent start for someone who hasn't drawn in such a long time.

Do you have an end goal or an idea of where you want to go with your art? Are you shooting for realism in the end?

To me it looks like you have an excellent start on your use of shading however there are a few things (if your goal is realism) that I would maybe work on a bit. The first is - outlining. I try to discourage outlining for those wanting to achieve true realism because very few things in real life (especially nature, humans and animals) have hard lines. You achieve your values (light and dark) through your shade work.

I actually love your trees. They are awesome...The only thing I would change is this - If you look at your drawing it appears as though you have a light source coming from the right. Ideally you would want to also have that reflect on your trees. Right now there are no value changes in your trees. Look at your painting you did with the sun streaming down on your tree. You highlighted the areas the sun hits. Its the same with this.

And I did just notice that you have the sun hitting the right sides (as you are looking at the picture) of the mountains but on that very last mountain on the top right you have the sun hitting the left side. But then I noticed - is that the sun in the top right corner I assume? If so you know what I might have done - leave the sun completely out and make everything consistent (which would mean flipping the white side from the left to the right in that last mountain - because you have already shaded it I don't think you can do that now though). I don't think I have ever done a true realistic picture with the sun actually in it. Most of what I need to achieve is done by suggestion of where the sun is and using light and dark values.

I would encourage you though - don't change this piece. If this is the first piece you have done in 13 years it's quite good and has a very nice feel. It's a keeper and a point of reference for you to go back on when your drawing improves (and it will - it happens to all of us). It's nice to go back to where you started and look at what you have achieved.

Overall - its a wonderful piece with nice composition. Work on improving your shading and minimizing outlining, and try to make your light source consistent when it hits the items in your paintings, or drawings.

I would love to see this as a painting - I think it it could really pop.

Hope I have helped?

01-17-2013, 08:20 AM
Lol. And I just realized that was the moon. That's what I get for responding first thing in the morning before the coffee had fully hit my system. I might lighten the moon..take the outline off..blend it out and give it more of a "glow" effect..

01-17-2013, 10:38 AM
Wow, great advice!

The way that I envisioned it was this: the mountains are to the left and to the right where the moonlight is coming through. That's why, on the mountain on the right, the shadows are on the right and not the left...the moonlight is streaming through them (so the moon is the farthest object in the background). Realistically, that right mountain would have more dark areas than light as the light would be hitting the unseen portion of it (the part facing the moon), but...oops!

I'm not quite sure what my goal is with drawing. Realism is great, but going into that much detail right now is...a staggering thought, to say the least. What you're doing in your "Waiting" WIP? That is amazing, and yes one day I hope to achieve that! For this, though, I think it was more along the lines of how "easy" it would be to transfer to painting, specifically watercolor/gouache.

Nice catch on the trees. I didn't notice that before. With the moon coming from the background, wouldn't the moonlight be hitting the unseen (the back part) of the trees, thus making them the same color (dark), and having the shadow extend towards the viewer?

I drew this around 4am one night when I couldn't sleep, so you have no judgement from me on the lack of coffee!

01-17-2013, 11:03 AM
Ok..I gotcha. This will be a really neat painting. I look forward to it! When you paint this I would still lightly highlite some of the trees. That one on the far left, for example, the moonlight would be beaming down on the right side of that tree therefore you might want to lighten that side a bit..frosting the branches of the tree will help give it a bit of three dimensionality. And It doesnt have to be much, sometimes a little can go a long way.

It takes time to figure out where you really want to go with art. Some people prefer not to go with realism and crank out absolutely stunning pieces of art. The great thing about it is that there is no real right or wrong .. every artist has learned from others and from trial and error to develop a style that is unique to them. Believe it or not I am still trying to develop a set style for myself. I think this latest drawing is as close as I have come to being where I want to be..

The way you have this drawn I think you should have no problems transferring this into a painting!

01-17-2013, 11:32 AM
Thank you ;-)

I want to eventually paint some great fantasy or science-fiction scenes...that's where my passion lies. I've tried my hand at writing, and while my friends, family, and university English professors have given me great feedback, I've always felt kind of "silly" when reading my own work. Painting doesn't give me that feeling, and as they say, a picture can tell a thousand words.

I'm trying to study how nature works and light plays off of various objects, and while I'd absolutely love to have the misty form of a dragon or something in the background of one of my two paintings, I'm not quite sure how to go about doing it and thus have let it alone, for now.

And with "space"...I'm an amateur astronomer, but painting things that I see at night is going to be hard...a black background, with some really beautiful blends of greens, reds, yellows, purples, and blues in nebulas...I think it's going to be hard to do.

I spent days looking on the internet for different types of paintings in the "genres" that I want to eventually specialize in, and there are very little realistic space paintings, and most of the fantasy/sci-fi stuff is way beyond where I'll be anytime soon. So I'm just going to keep doing landscapes until I feel comfortable with the possibility of wasting paint and paper (or canvas panel, since they're cheap) on something that might turn out worse than what my children can do, ha!

01-17-2013, 01:29 PM
Well if you truly want to go the route of fantasy then you hit the nail on the head with this piece. It most definately has that vibe to it. Keep working at it. I want to see one of these paintings with a dragon! The only way to improve is to try and try again and you seem like you have the drive to keep on going with this..which is awesome.

01-17-2013, 02:14 PM
Thanks ;-) Hopefully, my next "tree" scene will be done tonight (just an autumn tree in a field). I think I'll just try to "copy" a dragon from a coloring book and see if I can paint it, haha.

01-17-2013, 03:05 PM
Chanda has given you really great advice, if I could add my two cents...
What really struck me first with this piece was the hard line, very graphic and it definitely has a fantasy feel to it with the lines. Chanda is correct about the atmospheric perspective on the trees, the further they recede into the background the less color and tonal definition there is.

Some of the greatest pieces I have seen is when something like shadow and highlights are wrong, I like to do this in pieces with a slight hint without making it to obvious and the viewer sees something but can't quite but a finger on it.

I would like to see more artists prepare for a piece and do studies of the final piece, working out what could be wrong or what they need to focus thumbnail sketches will help you out when you start the final piece.

Black, is more than just black...and the blacks that come in a tube or pencil seems to always deaden a piece (usually) if you are to use black, make it difinitive and do not blend with it...A really great black that is mixed that works well is Burnt Umber and Ultramarine blue.

Shading and drawing...I use to smear and use blending stumps all of the time, I have gotten out of doing that and let the pencil do the work for me...If you are doing studies and sketches to refine your final piece no big deal but when you start you final sketch before the painting I would stay away from blending in the way you have done...crosshatching and defined lines will get you where you need to be.

With all that said, every artist is different and we tend to lean toward what we like and dislike as artists and there is no wrong or rights in art but what we strive to gain in learning who we are...I tend to learn more from artists work I do not like and emulate the artists I love...

01-17-2013, 04:37 PM
Hey PainterKen,

I read all the above posts and you received some really good information from Chanda and George. I always learn something from their posts.
I'm kind of w/you on the fantasy. My direction is currently in surrealistic art. I like to draw the pictures that stream across my thoughts as I draw.

But anyway, what I wanted to add is a book I am studying that is helping me a bunch: You will see it's about light and fantasy. Right up your alley. Have fun.

01-17-2013, 05:26 PM Such great words of wisdom, thank you!
Sean...that's interesting, because I added that book to my shopping cart earlier this morning, along with two other books on painting! Ha! Must be a good book ;-)

05-06-2013, 07:30 PM
Brilliance was all you mastered in this drawing -
allow me to point out that the tree at the bottom right hand side could have been portrayed in a more 3D form by applying some shadows behind it as implied for the other two. I really look forward to other drawings !
Keep up your excellence!