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The above two paintings were a commision for my sister of a vacation home she and friends visit every fall.  She wanted something that showed the sign, “Hum”, as it was the name the original owner gave his home because he was a music teacher. We discussed the compositional difficulties due to the large foreground tree dividing the format in half and that it would, likely, become the center of interest of the painting. She thought that would be OK since it was the name of the home and the first thing they saw upon arriving every fall. These were the first two paintings I did from the reference photo. Indeed, the tree was so strong that it dominated the piece, even in the line drawing. I decided to go with it and made the trunk colorful and dropped salt in it for texture. I like the depth it created but there was no getting past the division of space unless I omitted the tree and I did not know how to make up the part of the house I could not see nor have reference for. I decided to do two more paintings using guidelines of composition.  One is found here and features the roadside entrance to the home. The other is here and features the lakeside entrance to the home. The entrance pictures are the ones my sister and friend chose. I enjoy studying composition and use it to design my paintings but this was an interesting project. My sister and I, both, like the other two, also. I think rules of composition are meant to be guidelines for artists to use to help us create paintings that are appealing to many. I can see that either of the above two paintings might appeal to an owner who really would want the sign, the tree and all he may remember about his homeplace. I, oftentimes, pause and look even longer at that “quirky” work of art on a gallery wall imagining about the special vision the artist may have had to do what he did. I do think it takes a knowledge of composition to even appreciate those “quirks”. 🙂

Carol King worked with a similar vertical tree trunk and handled it beautifully here.


  1. As always you surprise me with something nice and original like this nice watercolor.
    Keep painting,my friend!
    I love your work!

    Have fun! 🙂

    • Thank-you, Alina. I suppose you won’t have to brreak my arm about continuing to paint. I’m hopelessly-happily addicted.

      • Ooo no.
        I encourage you cause i admire your work :)I like your paintings a lot.I would like to have such a gift me too,but i think that every human has his talents 😉
        I keep trying to discover mine too.

        Have fun,Leslie!

  2. lesliepaints,
    The lakeside entrance is very inviting. But I still think I like the Hum pictures. I too like the depth, especially in the second one. Maybe the lake adds to that depth. What a fun project for you. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thank-you Yousei. You have a good eye. The first painting was painted from the photo reference where a foggy light and no lake was visible. In the second one, I tried to brighten the scene like a sunny clear day with the lake in view. The lake does add depth causing that one to have a very definite foreground, middle ground and background. The other one has a background, the fog, but it doesn’t read as deep.

  3. very true.
    But i really like that second one.
    it moves off from the centre so the peice doesn’t lose dimension to my eyes.
    i have similar problems when tryng to photograph my food.
    there’s a lot of trial and error involved

    • Thanks Kokot. I used artistic license and created more of a lean to the tree, having learned from the first one. Good eye!

  4. I love the paintings. They feel all warm and fuzzy and homey to look at. Nice job! 😀

    • Hi Tacy. Thank-you for your kind comment. Warm and fuzzy and homey is good!

  5. Leslie, your painting makes me want to LIVE in that house–inviting and comfortable and full of vitality.

    • Thank-you, Eva. That is a wonderful compliment because I actually thought about where I could punch the warm colors to make it look warm.

      • “warm”–lol–oh yes at this time of year. But, you know, Leslie, there’s just something about the place–and you’ve caught it in both paintings–that just calls you inside to explore and linger. But the second painting is more effective.

  6. Hi Leslie,

    Interesting post. I really enjoyed how you broke down your composition issues. Having that big tree in the center of your page really does pose a problem, but I think you did a great job with it. The green of the house is very strong so while the eye first goes to the tree it then goes directly to the house. I like the one with the lake a little better since it balances out the composition nicely.

    I’m very impressed that you could paint this image not once, but twice. And be successful in both.

    • Thanks, Carol. I rarely do more than one of the same , but this project called for it. I used to get bored working on the same scene but have learned that I can vary things and that helps. I think you probably dealt with some of the same things on your recent post. Ithink I’ll link that for those who haven’t seen yours. 🙂

  7. delightful work: i actually think they are both excellent and the tree trunk at the front just has to be there:) r.

    • Thank-you, Rahina. I couldn’t have pulled these off if I hadn’t had some knowledge of composition. I’m glad you see the benefits of both of these.

  8. I like the second one the best, Leslie. The addition of a little more light and that far away shoreline really do add to the depth. All of them are quite yummy!! 🙂

    • Thank-you, Beth. I’ve followed your blog long enough to know you would go for the brighter painting. Don’t you just love it that art is like that? We could be viewing the most incredible work of art and not like it at all or something that is not put together too well and have to have it.

  9. Once again a lovely painting,
    I like the tree splitting the painting giving it depth and a unique composition.

    • Thanks Ryan. It’s fun to do things like this and find out everyone’s take on something. I think that a knowledge of composition enhances our appreciation for something a little furthur away from the norm and helps us realise how an individual artist tried to deal with it. How many different ways could you have done your “Eyes of a Predator”? To me, this is half the fun. 🙂

  10. Ahem… Beautiful colors, Leslie!

    I like them both quite a lot. It was hard to pick one, because both have something wonderful going on in there. I love the first one for the warm colors. I love the second for its light and crispness and fantastic texture on the tree. But there was something in the second one that was bothering me, and it took me until now to figure out what it was. It’s the far shore of the lake. That horizontal shore line strengthened by a horizontal roof just down from it decisively leads me out of the painting with no point of return. As a result of this, first painting is my preference – it allows me to stay in and be cozy.

    Being a novice I don’t have many useful suggestions on how to help this. You will decide whether you want to do something about it or not.

    Oh… Did I mention how much I love the colors in both of them? 🙂

    P.S. We seem to be on the same schedule – I have posted a new drawing yesterday as well.

    • Hi Alex,
      To stop the eye on the strip of lake you see in the second painting, I could have darkened the wash on the lake some on the right side of the strip or varied the surface….like I varied the surface of the tree. Had the tree been a flat wash, the eye would zip right up it and off the page. For some experts it still would cause that. That’s why I did two more completely different paintings omitting the tree altogether. You are thinking and are picking up a ton already. I didn’t see that. Thank-you!

  11. I love both of these, but particularly the tree in the second one. They are both so inviting. I love the name of it too, very original.

    • Thanks Heather. I liked that name, also. Very appropriate and cool for a music teacher’s home.

  12. All four paintings are skilfully painted – I’d hate to have to choose just one of these – they’d look amazing all lined up together. Must be wonderful for your sister to be able to gaze at the painting when she’s tired and just wishes she were there on vacation.

    I can appreciate how tricky this must have been – it would be easy to get it wrong, which you clearly didn’t – four times over.

    • Thank-you, June. I kept going and painting these because with each one I had some hesitations about their attraction. I find that I am more willing to spend more time on a project when I am trying to produce something for someone else. Most of what I draw or paint are things that I am drawn to and when you add that factor of pleasing someone else, I get all tense. I will say that I have NEVER painted anything that ends up looking like what I envisioned. I have had to learn patience and acceptance with my art.

  13. Hi Leslie,
    I was away for a while and I see that you were busy painting. I like your painting on the lakeside entrance of the house. From the above two, I like the first one better. Such a fun name for the house but I am sure you don’t use that in mailing address right? 😉

    • Thank-you Raji. The lakeside entrance is my favorite, also. I am glad I posted these paintings this way because I’m finding that everyone likes different ones for different reasons. It is refreshing to receive this kind of feedback as it helps me to understand that there may not be just one RIGHT way with art but a total experience that is refreshing and full of options.

  14. I like the colors in the bottom one better. I’ve always liked brighter colors. I think you did a good job for such a difficult composition. The tree is the first thing you see, but then you get drawn into the background. I love the other two paintings you did of this house, especially the lakeside entrance. I like how the tree frames the picture.

    • Thank-you, Littlelynx. I was hoping to develop a sunny day in the second painting. I like what you pointed about being able to look past the tree. I never thought of that. That IS what we do in real life, also. We tend to look past those things where we may have no interest, like street signs, trash cans, tree stumps, etc.

  15. I think it’s very interesting to create variants. I don’t find a problem with the tree cutting up the space. In fact I think it works very well, although I’m afraid I can’t help mentally trying to block the “hum ” sign! I think it’s because it’s a bit distracting against the strength of the trunk for my taste. But then as you said, you had to include the sign because it was an important aspect for your sister.

    I like both pictures but if I have to choose one I go for the top one. I find the spacing has more clarity. On the other hand it depends which part I’m looking at. I prefer the top right corner of the top painting for that reason but then I like the dark tree trunks on the top left of the bottom painting.

    Anyway, well done!

    • Thank-you for the input, Sonya. I admire your paintings and find many of them compositionally appealing. The top one for me was difficult because I had not tried to develop that soft foggy type of sky before this painting.

  16. The colors in those are absolutly amazing… they are intense… i like it lots!!!

    • Thank-you, Tristan. You know what? I think there is some of your peppermint green in the cottage! lol

  17. I do like the green of the upper one better, but they are both very strong and powerful. I also like very much the one from the lakeside entry, very soft…
    But as I am reading, and learning so much, my first thought was :” wow, so much thinking goes into this!” I don’t know that I could ever think like this while I paint… You are amazing!

    • You are a free spirit painter and I love visiting your blog and enjoy your artwork. You are also journaling. I didn’t think about what I was doing, at first. I explored what I saw and how I felt. At some point, I was ready to learn a little about this thing I heard was called composition. There are many artists who don’t think twice about it and create lovely pieces.Yours is a really good thought. Let things happen in their own time. Thank-you for this.:)

  18. Wow, incredible work! I’m astounded at the richness of color generated with the wet-on-wet techniques visible in your watercolor compositions. Thank you for posting (twice) to my blog. I am responding to what you wrote today on my blog, but uncertain if it’s reaching you, I thought I would visit your pages and record my first impression of your work. I will return, soon!

    • Yes. Your comments back to me should come through on the tab called “My Comments”. Rest assured I will be back to your site as I am totally impressed with your work and have added you to my blogroll under watercolor. I believe there is quite a bit I could learn from viewing what you do. Thank-you for your comment on my work, David.

  19. Very nice, Leslie. I think you did a very good job. It wasn’t an easy challenege.

    • Thank-you, Shiraz. These are very small challenges to what I see you undertaking at school. Much of what you do is so interesting. I value your comment.

  20. Nice colors on the house, ya if i were to choose i definitely like the second painting, it give an impression of sun light on the tree trunks..very nice touch. This two painting reminds me of the grandma house you posted the last time but with out the tree trunk, are they the same house?

  21. Hey Leslie – the tree in the lower painting comes forward for me and the one in the upper painting recedes. Also the lower tree being lighter (think) does not divide so strongly. Once before you painted a prominent tree and softened it to make it work. I think you have succesfully done the same thing here.

    Well done for a tough project.

    A house called “Hum” is so cute – like one of our artist friends with a blog called “Ink-Splodge” heh heh

  22. These are nice. Having the tree in warm tones brings it forward more than the house.

    • Thank-you! You can not imagine how I almost pulled my hair out trying to make that tree fit into this painting compositionally.

  23. This is just as beautiful as the front of the house in a previous post. I love this little house; reminds me of home in WV; not that my house looks like that, but because of the country feel to it. I love it, Leslie!!

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