Piano WIP



  • I recently got a commission from a piano studio to do some art for their walls and for the main piece they want to have a forest scene with everyone enjoying music together. I slowly working on it and although I feel that some parts of it are working I feel that some parts are off (the pianist will have a real face later). Also I initially liked the trees in the foreground however I'm not sure how best to continue with them. Any thoughts on the piece would be appreciated 🙂

    0_1539616236036_piano redo 6sm.jpg



  • Your art is awesome, as usual, and this is no exception. However, I agree that something about this piece is “off”. I think the composition needs to be tweaked - my eyes are drawn to the large area of lit ground at the front: it seems large, very light and featureless and it drains too much attention away from the scene. Maybe it just needs to be darkened and have some twigs or bushes or foliage to break it up a little.
    I agree the trees at the front are not working yet - possibly because they are too “cartoony”, both in the current choice of color and the shape of the foliage. I think you need to give them - paradoxically - a little more design love, even if they should go unnoticed at the end.
    I would also cool down the palette a little - it just looks a tad too golden-hour to me.
    I’m being very nit picky on a piece that is fundamentally great - but yes, instinct is instinct.



  • This is really beautiful, I love where you're going with it! I really like the soft warm colours, it gives a nice feeling to the illustration, maybe you could just use a few more shades of greens/blues for the background trees to give it a bit of depth?
    I love the characters, they're so sweet and charming (that hedgehog is awesome haha), I agree with @smceccarelli maybe there needs to be a few leaves/acorns/music sheets on the floor here and there to break it up 🙂

    I quite like the trees in the foreground framing the scene, maybe lose the yellow bird from the right branch and put him on top of the piano? My eyes seem to be drawn to him first rather than the rest of the scene, so maybe adding him somewhere else might make the framing work better.

    I can't wait to see this progress as you work on it! Such lovely work 😃


  • SVS OG

    Given that your skill level is waaaaay above mine, I’m hesitant to add an opinion but the one thing I notice is that the painting feels a little too symmetrical — the spacing of the animals around the piano is pretty even. It’s a great painting though and has a really nice atmosphere. I’d love to be the girl at that piano.



  • Looks great so far! You've got a great sense of character placement. They all feel very much at home (if you get what I mean) on the picture plane.

    Thoughts on what needs fixing: My initial gut reaction is that it's slightly unbalanced. My second gut reaction is that the foreground trees (though great in theory) are too symmetrical.

    My potential fix: Keep the foreground tree on the right. It's got some character with that notch and catches the light from off screen left nicely. Remove the tree on the left entirely, leaving the left side of the picture open. This may solve the balance issues and make the foreground tree work better.

    That being said, though, if you finished as is it would still turn out as a great piece. Always love your work 🙂


  • SVS OG

    @gary-wilkinson Looks great!! I think if you move the boy with the drum in a bit to the right or shift the whole group around the piano (including piano player) to the right it will seem more balanced - the boy seems too close to the edge i think - flipping the composition seems to show off the slight heaviness of that side .... another thought would be, Is the singing bird a focal point? if he is i think you could move everything away from him to the left a bit as in a steelyard composition and maybe bring him more to the front especially if it is a two page spread - really nice work!


  • SVS OG

    @gary-wilkinson your character designs are really cute! The thing that stuck out to me is the piano is dab smack in the middle both vertically and horizontally. My eye get's stuck on it.



  • Did a quick paintover. Hope that wasn't presumptuous 🙂

    The reason I painted out the branch with the little birdy was because if the tree on the right is in the foreground, then the bird would be facing away from the piano (away from action, I suppose?).

    alt text



  • This is a great beginning, but I agree with @smceccarelli about the trees in the front. It feels to me like they are blocking my eyepath and trapping me in. I understand the use of them as a framing device, but it feels like a fence, not a frame right now. It kind of has a somber feeling to me for some reason and is not as light/elated feeling as some as your other work. Excited to see where this goes!


  • Pro

    I wonder if you can try in inverse the light - make the ground on the front darker and the ground on the back lighter. The light at the back would contrast against the piano creating a focus spot.. Maybe, I'm not sure if it would help or not...



  • Quickie observation: I initially read the nose of the pianist as a frown, which has an entirely new meaning, but prooobably not one you're looking for. I know you mentioned that the pianist will have a full face soon, but I couldn't help pointing that one out 🙂


  • SVS OG

    I didn't reply to this yesterday because I couldn't think of an intelligent enough critique! I love the color and light in this, but then I love the color and light in all your pieces, so you obviously know what you're doing in that regard!

    Re the trees, I was thinking you could perhaps put in a bit foliage in the foreground rather than trunks? (Like the shapes of a few individual leaves.) Or it could be combined with the trunks. But it might just give you a way to add some interest and perhaps give another depth clue in addition to what you already have. Take that for what it's worth, since I still haven't analyzed it thoroughly!



  • I would like to see this without the back ground and just some of the ground around the piano to keep the characters grouped together. The small yellow bird on the edge is a bit of a distraction


  • SVS OG

    Looks lovely but a quick note: You might have to inverse the whole picture. A grand piano is long on the left side because the low notes have longer strings.


  • SVS OG

    @Gary-Wilkinson stunning piece! The characters and rendering of them is spot on. They are beautiful and make me want to send my kids to that studio!

    If you cover those foreground trees I don’t get anything that really sticks out is incomplete or uneasy about the piece. I looked on Pinterest and found some things that may help. In the forest images the light sorce was more defined. It is clear on your figures, but it was over exaggerated light beams. Some were more suddle than others. It could help with where the figures are? Also, the upper trees could have some light breaking through the leaf clusters and maybe a branch or two separate from the leaves to allow a little light to show through. Or completely loose those and just do brush and weeds on the bottom.

    I would see what other people have done to solve the forest concept. That may help.

    But you are so stinking close. And if you hadn’t asked I would have said, “hit print and frame it up!” Really strong work!



  • Wow thank you for so many people taking the time to comment and give advice, it's been really helpful.

    @smceccarelli - great advice and I think you picked up on all the things I was feeling uncomfortable about. The foreground trees are definitely something that I need to scrap and readjust and i'm playing with a few different ideas to achieve that now. Thank you for your help.

    @hannahmccaffery - mixing in more green and blues sounds like that would definitely help. I originally had the bird on the top of the piano but I felt that it drew too much attention. I think i'm going to scrap that bird anyhow and maybe have it flying around instead.

    @demotlj - yeah the symmetry isn't working so well. Sometimes things that looked good in the sketch don't seem to work when you start painting 😕

    @Art-of-B - I'll get out my axe and start chopping down some trees 😃 Also thank you for taking the time to do the paintover. Although the way I am going with the image doesn't follow that exactly it really helped me move forward with it!

    @Kevin-Longueil - You're right the boy/girl (i'm never sure which) is too close to the edge. I'll try re position the characters to balance it out a bit better.

    @juliepeelart I understand what you mean about the piano's position, but the client wanted it to be in the center of the image, so I tried to accommodate that as best as I could.

    @Teju-Abiola I think the blue light is probably one of the reasons for the more sombre mood, but I hope by the end it will evoke a more happier feeling even if it isn't as light as my other pieces.

    @NessIllustration the foreground and background light are a bit too even and definitely need better re balancing. I did want to add objects to that foreground plane, but it didn't work as well as I thought 😕

    @LauraA thank you for the comments Laura, and I'm pleased you like the colors 🙂 Foliage is probably a better choice than trunks. As others mentioned they are too heavy and making the image too tight in it's composition and they will be trimmed back as I try resolve the image.

    @rcartwright my original idea was to have it just as a simple ground plane without a background but the client wanted a surrounded by the forest type of setting. I might tone down the background a bit more before it's finished though.

    @holleywilliamson great catch I didn't even think about the anatomy of the piano! Actually a lot of the time I flip an image so much I forgot which way it was originally suppose to be 😛

    @Whitney-Simms thank you Whitney. I think having some light showing through from that upper canopy is a great idea and I will explore that to see how it looks

    Here is where I am at the moment. I took away the foreground trees and added a path to break up the empty foreground space and will added a couple more characters (a bunny leading some bugs with his flute) as well as some fallen leaves and acorns in later stages. I feel a bit more comfortable with the painting and although it's not there yet, all of your help is helping guide it to completion 🙂

    0_1539821721495_piano redo 8 flatsm.jpg



  • This looks fantastic! I absolutely love the addition of the path, it all flows so much nicer now and makes your eyes travel down the path with the characters. Also, losing the trees in the foreground really does open it all up like you say!
    Love the lighting in the background, that has already added some depth to it!
    Look forward to seeing the finished piece, lovely stuff 🙂



  • I feel like I have gona almost as far as I can with this design and the client is happy with it, so I am calling it done 😃 thank you for everyone's help with it!

    0_1539935947245_Forest Piano sm.jpg


  • SVS OG

    Hi, Gary. I believe your piano needs a stand for it’s flap. I don’t know if you’re planning to add it later but just saying. Plus with the piano open like that you will also need to show its strings. I love this piece.


  • SVS OG

    I agree with @nyrrylcadiz about the strings especially since it’s for a piano studio but other than that it’s a lovely painting and I very much like this version over the last.


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