Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Fiddlers Boots by Kirk Witmer

Title - The Fiddlers Boots
Artist - Kirk Witmer
Medium - Oil painting on stretched canvas, 24x30
Statement - I want my works to tell a story and I believe the use of representational realism
is the most efficient way to accomplish that.
Website -

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  1. Hello Kirk.
    I truly like the narrative of this piece, the violin; work boots and whiskey jug certainly imply a story. Even with this interesting arrangement of objects I am having a problem understanding their composition and exactly where the focal point is. I am drawn to the lower left boot, nicely modeled, with a good sense of light especially how you handled the reflected light.

    The use of light and especially reflected light is what I most want to talk about.
    The illusion we are trying to convey is how light influences a subject and model them accordingly. These are described by the highlight, halftone, terminator, reflected light, and cast shadow. A study and understanding of light and form is important, if not imperative. It is the careful and accurate interpretation of the play of light upon a subject that gives the impression of reality.

    So what I see happening here, that I describe as a lack of a focal point, is that everything is treated the same, the same level of detail, the same color saturation, the same handling of edges, same level of modeling, the same types of cast shadows, which places everything in the same plane of space.
    Think of it like this, if everyone is talking no one gets heard.
    There needs to be more variety in edge handling and detail moving from the boots in the foreground to the cloth background. Except for the lower boot there is no reflected light on any other object, an impossibility in reality, above all when you have reflected objects such as glazed pottery and varnished woods. These issues together, my first impression is that this work is unfinished? Yet when we look at the draftsmanship, the drawing is well executed, showing knowledge of foreshortening, proportion and balance done by someone with some drawing skills.

    So basically at this point when evaluating works that show so much inconsistency,
    I have to start asking questions. Can an artist be so intuitive in one regards and not another? I would have to assume its an image that was traced and painstakingly rendered. I know I sound like a broken record, but using photographic sources is not for beginners until they “truly” understand how to see three dimensional form.
    All of these inconsistencies would have been avoided if this had been done from life, someone looking at an object and actually painting what they see instead of looking at a photo of an object and painting what the camera saw.

    Painting is about learning to see as an artist.

    Kirk I know from your sight that you are fairly new to painting, and I figure this is probably the first hard and honest critique you’ve received. I get many images I do not post that are interpretations of photos. I don’t waste my time with them.
    They are at best ordinary and amateurish.
    I think you have more going on than that with your work.
    I don’t think you are destined to that type of mediocrity.
    Take off the training wheels; you’ll go a lot further.

  2. You're not the first person to comment about lack of focus and all of the "sameness". However...
    These are the steps used to create this painting:
    1. A real life set up was created in a closed environment to enable complete and consistent control of the lighting.
    2. A photo was taken and a black & white low res print was made.
    3. A proportional divider was used to transfer points from the print to the canvas (my drawing skills are minimal at best) and the drawing was created from those points. The print was then discarded.
    4. The rendering of the painting was done from the real life setup with the use of an aid to assure accuracy of value first and then color.
    Kirk Witmer

  3. Kirk, the use of dividers and points is a sound and academically proven method of producing an accurate drawing, referred to as the site-size method. It is a fantastic learning tool and is important process to learn.
    However it is done from life, direct observation… not from polarized black and white photos, or whatever it was you actually used.
    After reading your description of how you arrived at this image.
    Numbers one, two and three.
    It makes complete sense, your painting from two different sources.
    It does look like a colorized black and white image.
    Not someone painting, hue, value and chroma.
    Again to reiterate,
    Painting is about learning to see as an artist.

    I truly like your work. And think that there is a great deal of talent in you.
    I just see you taking the easy route.

    I would highly recommend the following books to anyone interested in Realism.
    The Practice and Science of Drawing, by Harold Speed
    Traditional Oil Painting by Virgil Elliot

  4. i wish i am one of're entirely amazing!