Study of The Fountain of Venus by Francois Boucher
Matthew Kaluza
i gave up on finishing this when ur realized the original wasn’t actually a perfect square so all of my measurements were off and the background which included a relief sculpture didn’t really allow for any stretching or invention, plus it’s supposed to be a master COPY so I decided to just leave it there. I should have said this at the beginning because no one is going to read all of this but speaking of the background that’s the part I found the most difficult, mostly the plants and trees, if you couldn’t tell. It’s one thing if you’re inventing your own trees and branches and plants but when you’re copying them and they aren’t in the right place and you have to erase and start again and you can’t seem to find a way to accurately depict them without cracking down and doing a full render it becomes pretty tedious, at least for me. Anyway if anyone has any critiques or advice for trees and plants in particular I would greatly appreciate it. Like I said I’m capable of sitting down and rendering every last leaf if I really have to and making it look presentable but I envy other artists who seem to be capable of a kind of sprezzatura approach to painting plants and trees and a lot of it probably comes down to just drawing plants and leaves more but there’s gotta be a few tips to make it a little easier. I watched a YouTube video with a girl showing people how to decorate their notebooks with leaves and that was actually surprisingly helping even though it was more of an illustration video I just need to internalize more rules of thumb and ways of depicting branches and leaves so they seem more organic and random. I don’t hate the foliage in this piece but I didn’t really tackle it because I saved it for last to get my confidence up and put pressure on myself to actually do them, but since I didn’t finish them there’s not much to hate lol.
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Jesper Axelsson
Hi @Matthew Kaluza, really nice study! I'll try my best to help you further :) - So if I understand you right, you're looking for a way to depict the plants and trees, without relying on adding all the detail. There are many things to consider when depicting things visually, but two of the keys are shape and value. It's possible to capture a subject in a very simple and abstract way. If you have a characteristic shape and give it the right value, you'll have it. And add appropriate edges, color and textures and you'll have something really life like. Like @Tiffanie Mang's small gouache studies Painting Landscape Thumbnails (STEP BY STEP).   Shape: To capture the character of a subject, the silhouette is the most important shape. If you want to capture something with great economy of line, just draw the silhouette. If you want more information, you could then draw the silhouettes of the interior shapes. And keep going. When drawing from observation, try to learn from the subject you're drawing. Try to be accurate. Look closely at how the silhouette is unique to each object in the scene. The shape of plants and foliage will be different from the shape of a figure, and the shape of the rocks will be something unique, and so will the shape of water. This idea, that different things have different shapes, is something that could be used as a design tool; you could push the idea, and make things more different than they would be in life. You'll see this in old sculptures for example, that leans into being less realistic and more designy. When studying shapes there are many things you could consider. The more you learn the greater your analytical toolset will become. Some things to consider are: How the size of shapes and the lenght of edges vary. Think big, medium and small. If edges are straight or curved. The overall proportion of the shape, height to width. If you want to do a study of this painting, and capture it's likeness in a short time, draw the silhouettes of the different areas and capture their unique character. Value: To capture the light of an image, value is key. You seem to be pretty comfortable with working with tone. Does the term value grouping sound familiar to you? As you create the tonal design of the image you try to look for groups of value. In the case of Boucher's piece one might say that Venus, the sky, and some other parts hit by light make up a light group; and that the foliage, shadows in the bottom of the image and the left pillar in shadow belong to a dark group (it helps to squint, to see this), and that the stone structure to the right, as well as parts of the relief that isn't in shade, belongs to a mid group. For a quick tonal study, paint these three groups. Within these groups there is variation, that you can pull out. So it's not really a matter of three values, but rather three value ranges. Each group has a range of values that you can use, but you don't want to go outside the group, since that breaks your value design. In your study you have broken some of these groups. You've made the pillar to the left as bright as the relief in light, behind venus, making the pillar break out of it's dark group. If you'd like to learn more about value, I'd be happy to guide you. As a suggested assignment: Choose an image and do a value study of it, and I'll try to guide you from there. -"it’s supposed to be a master COPY so I decided to just leave it there" When things aren't matching the reference bothers me too, though I think I would have recommended you to ignore that and add those details anyway. Recently I've tried to have the mindset of doing one thing at a time; I break my process into stages. I do my best in each stage, but as I've moved to the next I don't go back and fix things too much. If my proportions are off, then so be it, I simply have to get better at proportion; I'll get to practice that once more as I do another painting. It helps me finish things and it also makes me draw better: My mind is much clearer, I'm making my marks deliberatly: "Ok, so now I get the overall proportions" and "now I try do show what the subject is doing (the gesture)" and "now I try to capture the subject's specific shapes and forms" and "now I try to connect them with rhythm" etc. I hope this helps :) Keep up the good work!
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