Harvard Yard and More Frustration

I’ve been doing these mini copy paintings and they’ve been coming out pretty well on the whole. However, all I really seem to be learning is how to copy better which isn’t really the point. This was driven home today when I tried another go (actually 8 goes) at this Harvard Yard scene.

I had a go at this last year – this was the result

Now it’s not that bad I suppose but it’s a little too literal, the colors don’t mesh, and I just wasn’t happy with it. Time to have another go.

This was my first shot. I tried to apply what I thought I’d learned – simplification, identify the big shapes, only one region of detail, expand the foreground, and keep the colors muted. It didn’t go well.

I’ve zoomed in more on the scen to simplify the shapes and tried to keep the colors within a more limited range. It’s ok but still not what I was after.

Maybe the building has too much contrast – let’s glaze over it and see :

No that’s not the problem although I think it does hang together a little better.

Next I went back to my mini painting idea – 4 little paintings to try and work out the composition and values a little better. All of these were done without drawing and the first two were done upside down to see if I could trick myself into focusing on what I really liked.

What I took from this is that the foreground shadow really makes a difference here. Also that the value changes in the building should be really subtle. Let’s have another go :

Well that really didn’t go well. Very frustrated at this point. In the evening I ended up noodling on the ipad and did a notan of the scene to see what would happen. Here it is :


Now this looks pretty cool. One thing I did change was to lighten the value of the closest building which I think works ok. Time to have a final try :


I also kept the red really muted here but I’m still not happy. Maybe it’s just not going to happen.