Several days ago, I posted the "finished" version of a couple of large pastel paintings I did on-location. One obviously needed more work, and it provoked a number of useful comments. (To be sure, I have actually taken scissors to the painting and cut it in half. I'll post the "new" finished version of this one once I take some good photos of it.) But the one that I thought really was finished also got a lot of comments, especially over in the Wetcanvas.com plein air forum. As a reminder, here's the painting (9x24):
Some folks had a problem with the foreground hill, claiming it read more like a staircase or pathway into the distance rather than like a little hill. One commentor suggested that changing the shape so it wasn't triangular would solve the problem. Well, I can't do that because it's a well-known landform, and the local residents would get upset if I just took a backhoe to it. Others suggested hardening lines, darkening shadows, etc., to correct the illusion. Or move it to the left a bit so it didn't point so directly into the distance.
One suggestion I made was to remove the hill entirely. The reason I suggested this is that there is probably some point near where I painted where I could have had a very similar view, but without the hill. I'm not sure the hill is entirely necessary. So this morning I ran the image through the Photoshop mill, and below is the result. I find Photoshop a really useful tool in these cases. Hasty erasures or cuts with scissors are impossible to "undo" otherwise.
I'm interested in hearing your opinion on this piece. Remove the hill, fix it in some way, or just leave the thing alone - your vote counts!
Normally, I wouldn't spend this much time on a plein air painting, But my intention was to get this piece (and the other) as close to completion outdoors as possible. With any plein air piece, large or small, you will run into problems like this that would perhaps be more easily foreseen in the calm and quiet of the studio. And since I have invested considerable time on them, both outdoors and now inside, I'll keep at it. It's a great learning experience!