Split Personality

The setting for Eddie W. Tchepetov?s Sunset Patio, while seemingly ordinary, is a slice of life. It?s something most people would take for granted. By taking the time to paint this scene, Tchepetov makes it more meaningful—the arrangement of food and table, light and landscape, will be felt more deeply by whomever views it. It?s something many of our great representational painters try to do, and I applaud Tchepetov for his choice here.

Sunset Patio (acrylic, 28×22) by Eddie W. Tchepetov.

I also like the artist?s extension of yellow and violet from the table to the shadows and tile in the foreground. While Tchepetov feels that he ?could have created a better reflective shadow on the tile floor,? I think this is good use of pure-hue yellows and semineutrals, along with subordinate notes of violet, and it?s a nice organization of values to create the feeling of sunlight. In addition, the red-orange note of the flowers is a nice surprise within the arrangement of color.

Art Principles At Work
There are two main ideas to address to make this a stronger painting:

Zero in while facilitating movement. I feel there are conflicting geometric shapes in this composition. Looking at the painting abstractly, the table, chairs, shadows and foreground have a nice, soft, curvilinear rhythm and movement. But the fence, as well as the cement path around the grass and water, are hard angular and rectangular shapes. While angles and curves can work well together in a painting, here they almost divide the painting in two.

?My goal was to capture the radiant light from the setting sun,? says Tchepetov. He?s well on his way but could do this even better (while solving the friction between the curves and angles) by zooming in on the table setting. However, if he wants to incorporate the total experience of the trees, fence, water and patio, then I?d suggest rearranging the shapes so there?s more continuity and a consistent rhythm throughout.

If this were my painting (see the sketch at left), I?d create a square format and an almost symmetrical composition. I?d focus on the curvilinear rhythm and play with the wavy shadows, taking them diagonally out of the lower right of the composition.

Harmonize the color scheme. As I mentioned, I really like the use of yellow and violet in Sunset Patio. But the upper half of the painting?s color theme is green, blue-green and blue, with a subordinate red- orange. While an excellent use of color, the upper half of the work again conflicts with the lower part, which has yellow and violet as the main components of its color scheme. Emphasizing the table setting, chairs, tablecloth, shadows and tile, along with diffusing the background, would resolve the conflict. Keep the strong yellow-violet nature of the composition, focusing on sunlight and shadow, and merely suggest the cool, secondary blues and greens in the background.

Lessons Learned
It?s important to focus on what inspires you in a composition and eliminate everything else. Think about Monet?s water lilies or Degas? ballet dancers. Simplify your subject and emphasize consistent abstract shapes that will make the subject pleasing to the eye. Finally, stay with the color scheme that sets the mood for the composition. As an artist, it?s not only your prerogative but your mission to rearrange shapes, change and personalize color, and find your own style to strengthen your work and make it your own.

About the Artist
Eddie W. Tchepetov of Rohnert Park, California, has only been painting for a couple of years, but his works have already placed in local juried shows. His passion for art and ?the reaction I see on people?s faces when they look at my work? keep him going.

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