A Quiet Place

I took this painting to class last week and the criticism was that the darks needed to be joined, otherwise it was too spotty. Another criticism was that the two pieces of land on either side in the distance were too similar.  I like the watercolor the way it was - because I feel I created this peaceful isolated scene. A  point Jerry always makes in class is that the elements and principles of design are guidelines and not rules. I always try to be mindful of that when creating my watercolors but in this instance I broke the rules and am happy with the results.


  1. Anonymous10:15 PM

    Hi Jean, I think they both have their merits. The bottom one draws you in more, and you feel you are closer to the background hills, the first one has more of a feeling of space and open vistas.

  2. Loved both versions.. but a sort of connection between the various elements are established in the second one..nice to read how and on what basis, a work gets a critique that helps on improvement.

  3. Jean, I've been looking at both for a while, and I cannot say that the second one has any advantages. I don't dislike that composition either, but the top one seems perfectly fine to me. I think that the principles of design are just guidelines, not firm rules to absolutely stick to. Take them with a grain of salt and trust yourself before all!

  4. Well, Jean. In my view, the second version looks better, for it is more balanced and more depth seems to be conveyed. And it really is a quiet atmosphere, an invitation for meditation.

  5. Anonymous8:15 AM

    Maggie: Thanks for the feedback. Usually I don't change my paintings after a critique but I thought maybe this one needed it.

    Padmaja: It seems most people agree about which one is the better watercolor.

    Blaga: I agree with you about going with your own instincts and most of the time I do, but I also like to take into account other opinions which may have validity.

    Rogério: It's interesting that the consensus is that the second one has more depth to it. I liked the first initially because of the simplicity of it, but now I am being swayed.

  6. I am a beginner at watercolor, and I'm working right now on connecting the darks and not being so spotty. So your post was very timely!

  7. Anonymous3:30 PM

    Thanks for stopping by Connie and glad you got something from my post.

  8. I don't get what your class was saying. I see a shore in the foreground, and islands in the back - I think the first one is great, and I prefer it actually. I like the way the light sparkles on the water - it feels free.

    I think when I hear "join the darks", folks are usually discussing simplification and having like values combine within a specific area, in contrast to unnecessary detail. So I expected your second picture to be a joining of like values in the foreground. I don't think joining two separate bodies of land was necessary, or even what's meant by that sort of phrase, because it changes the composition entirely!

    I believe the first one is balanced - I think the lower left offsets the upper right. I do not like the raised hill on the left in the second - it makes the hills on both sides too even for my taste.

    So next time - don't listen to 'em! ;)

    Quite verbose and opinionated, huh? I'm even late to the discussion, but couldn't resist. Very interesting question. Thanks for letting me rant.

  9. I like the first one best. To me, it has more impact and is more inviting. With the land masses joined and almost circling the painting it's almost like a barrier, whereas in the first painting the broken land and water give me an invitation to come in and enjoy the scenery.


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