Isolation Landscape WIP - critiques welcome

  • For this month, I will be experimenting again with watercolors and papercutting.

    I wanted this month's entry to really have the landscape drive the 'isolation'. I guess that comes from living in empty 'fly over' land... I am The Prairie Fox I guess.

    Anyway, I went looking for pictures that gave that feeling to really channel it. I came up with a bunch that I liked and tried to feed them into my thumbs and value studies.

    Here are my 2 value studies, I would like to know which you think is the stronger of the two.

    First, I have an homage to N.C. Wyeth and the prairie with a children's book theme:


    My other is driven by isolation in the mountains:


    Let me know which you think is stronger. I might push both of them to finish, but we will see how my process develops for creating these.

    Any fixes or improvement advice would be welcome on either as well.

  • @theprairiefox I think both are strong compositionally and value wise, but neither are really telling a story. (I am struggling with this as well for the prompt).

    I see a person in nature, and it does feel like they're alone. I'm just wondering if there was more story telling if it would be more engaging?

  • @carlianne thanks! You are so right.

    These both feel more like fine art than illustration. I was focusing so hard on the feelings I forgot the story!

    I think I have an idea about how to put some stories in.

  • heh. I got the reference to Wyeth right away!

  • @Erich-von-Hasseln I am glad I didn't miss the mark by too much.

    That piece just evokes the isolation of the prairie. I decided I could use it and twist it to fit in my world.

    I read Bolivar not too long ago and I love the scenes he does that pull reference from Edward Hopper's work.

  • @carlianne here are the updates.

    I wanted to go with the story of how much mail means when you live an isolated life. I think all of us are experiencing that right now. But when the prairie lands were settled mail and news were a huge deal as well.

    Anyway, let me know if you are getting more story?

    I was thinking about if there should be a shadow under the prairie girl. I could be easily swayed.

    The kid in the mountain piece will probably be a little girl with a dress as well, it was just too small yet to get that in.



  • @theprairiefox I like 5B!

    I wonder what would happen in 5B if you turned the mailman around so he’s facing towards the viewer? Right now it looks like he’s headed toward the house, but the girl running for the mailbox seems to imply that he’s already dropped off the mail (at least to me!)

    If you go for 5a, I’m definitely missing the shadow under the little girl! Especially since the mailman has one, it makes her feel like she’s floating in space.

  • @korilynneillo good idea! I will play with turning him around.

    He could then be looking at the girl as well moving the reader in a better triangular motion.

    I will definitely play with the shadow.

  • Hi, I really love the style of your work, its very emotive, feels somewhat Scandinavian for some reason, like the moomins! The only criticism I have, if you could call it that, is that rather that having a plait,( Plaid, plat?, the haircut girls have, you know what I mean!) it almost looks like the girl has two heads. I know its a minor thing, and it may be stylistic choice, Or she has a head like 'Hey Arnold' but its such a lovely image, and that was the only constructive thing I can offer!

  • @gavpartridge I am working on establishing a base style for my characters. I am glad you are liking them.

    Thanks for the advice on the hair it looks much better. I haven't done the detail on the characters yet. The whole picture is still only 7 inches wide (and I work traditionally).

    I will definitely clean that up on the next revision when I get it to full size.

  • @theprairiefox 2B reads as a story to me! But I actually thought it was a dad coming home it something, kinda reminded me of dads coming home from war.

  • With this piece (or both if I have time) I am planning on using papercut and watercolor.

    I just did a test of my process on a small amount and thought I would share how it came out.

    Photo May 26, 11 17 44 AM.jpg

  • @theprairiefox Cool! I've also been considering doing paper cutouts + watercolor this month (currently I have a watercolor background with a digital character on top, but I've been considering changing the digital character to a paper cutout). One thing to consider might be scanning the paper cutout pieces separately and then compositing them digitally? I think a key thing with cutouts that can give them some depth is the little shadows where they overlap, and creating these digitally made give a little more control? It's definitely possible to do that with photography but it seems tricky.

    Ps, if you haven't seen his work before, I recommend the books of David Wisniewski, who made children's books with amazing paper cutouts. Might give some inspiration. Here's a so-so photo of one of his books:


  • @Braxton very cool. I will definitely check David Wisniewski out.

    I connected with Kelsey Sheldon who does some very cool paper cut work both illustration and animation. She had some great advice and she is mixing watercolor and papercut as well.

    She suggested:

    double sided, sticky foam spacers are really helpful for adding dimension- like you said about your own piece, that dimension can be really lovely! This is a way to add it while keeping everything secure, and it gives you more control over where the spacing is. I usually use these in combination with rubber cement.

    Another illustrator you might want to look at is Camille Garoche she has done a couple of wordless books using papercut and watercolor. She actually mounts her paper cuts in a box with space in between to give that depth as well.

  • Another WIP update.

    I am not convinced that I like the amount of color texture with the washes. I almost find it too distracting.

    Let me know what you think. Everything is still editable, very little is glued yet.

    On to the characters...

    Photo May 28, 9 06 48 AM (1).jpg

  • Okay, here is the first version with everything. Questions abound, would love to hear your thoughts.

    • Do the mountains have TOO much contrast? Are they distracting?
    • Does the color of the girl work? Should she be redder and less orange?
    • Does the person walking convey mailman? I made him slightly blue and added a hat and letter.
    • Does the border work? I thought it added some professionalism... I might be crazy though.

    Thanks for the input.

    Note I will retake the photo playing with lighting as well.

    Photo May 28, 7 15 28 PM.jpg

  • @theprairiefox It's really well done. The only thing I think is a little distracting is the white unpainted parts of the background.

  • SVS OG

    @theprairiefox This is really interesting! The mountains are a bit distracting. I am wondering if the mountains could have an additional blue wash over them in the same tint as the mailman? That would bring in that color more and might make the mountains more subtle too.

    Very fun to experiment with!

  • @theprairiefox I love the textures and the variation of the color. Love it!

  • Here is the landscape for the prairie picture.

    I am going to try to get the characters on today and then I will have to decide which to submit?!?!?

    Photo May 29, 3 37 08 PM.jpg

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