Figure Perspective

“Parisian Promenade”
watercolor 15 x 22 inches
I have found there is much to learn about putting figures into a painting . . . . .
Figures can and do put a substantial amount of perspective and depth into a painting if they are done right.   What may seem as necessary, such as various body parts and details, simply does not apply.   That’s right, details and anatomical correctness doesn’t matter.   The human mind does that for us.   Ratio of head size and height seems to make a bit of difference.   
There is two things I have noticed about this painting that makes me think twice (or three times) about doing the painting over again:   One is values.   Notice how the values of the scene itself diminish toward middle tones.   Yet, the figures have very stark, almost strident, value contrast with the surroundings.   I think the figures need to blend in more.  That is to say that the figures need to feel as though they belong to the value range in which part of the painting that they sit.
Color, also, plays a part.   Color saturation of the figures needs to settle in with the rest of the  surroundings, too.   In this painting, the colors certainly call attention to the figures, but that isn’t the purpose of putting the figures in this painting . . . . .it should feel like a complete scene . . . not a stage on which there are action packed players.
The last thing that makes a big difference is the heads all need to be at the same level, relatively.   Notice the figures in the foreground;  they all stand on the same level ground.  It is as if the viewer is at the same eye level as those players.   Those that stand on the white surface have their heads slightly above the eye level of those figures in the foreground.   As those figures (on the upper deck) recede into space, their bodies become shorter, but the heads remain at the same level. . . . .which gives the impression of distance.
I am off to the studio to try a remake of this painting to see if I can make the necessary adjustments.

2 thoughts on “Figure Perspective”

  1. Mike, it's so nice to see you working in watercolor again, it seems like it's been a while. I definitely find the figures to be dominating the scene now: the painting seems to be about them more than the place. Doesn't bother me, but I don't know your intentions. I expect the changes you have in mind will alter the balance: I do hope you re-post the modifications.

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