Posted in Art and Artists, Research & Reflection

Analysis: Sheep landscape by Michelle Shuff

Consideration based on “Making Sense of Art History“.  I’ve selected this approach as a basis to see if it helps me consider the work in a deeper sense.

First Impressions

The general idea seems to be an Impressionist-style picture of sheep in a moorland landscape. On first sight the sheep in the foreground are the most obvious “subject”, but longer consideration also brings into consideration the landscape itself. The (possibly stormy) clouds above a bleak country brings memories of walking in this sort of landscape, with the  possibilities of rain and cold on their way but the hope of a good day’s walking ahead.

Reading the work

The eye is initially drawn centrally, and down to the sheep. Further consideration takes in the clouds, trees and hillside with deeper consideration.

Over time the eye considers the rendering of the hillside and the path across the landscape. The eye tends to wander back to the centre, and down to the sheep during further consideration.



  • The colouring is strong, created with modern acrylics applied fairly strongly, which is fairly conventional for the medium. This isn’t subtle colour. Assuming my impressionist concept is accurate the colours are likely to be pretty much out of the tube. It is certainly believable.
  • The colour scheme is dominated by the Green/Orange-Brown of the landscape and the Blue of the sky. Strong/Vivid colours have been chosen in each case. Black and White are then added for the sheep and clouds. Other colours added to increase palette breadth and add interest. The colour scheme has a light and warm feel to it.
  • Painting is fairly bright overall, which gives it a happy/optimistic feel, with the central area brighter that the peripheral region. The sheep are clearly bight as well. This draws the eye centrally.
  • There is some 3D modelling using brightness evident on the trees and sheep. There is little clear evidence of depth based on linear perspective, but some use of atmospheric perspective and positioning within the scene to give a sense of depth. Overall the effect is some impression of depth, rather than a realistic depth effect. There is no evidence of contour lines around the subjects of the painting, which is consistent with the modelling on the sheep.
  • The is a strong diagonal line, of a path, crossing the composition in the “bright zone”, which draws the eye from the bright clouds and connects to the sheep – making an almost “S” shaped composition. This helps with the eye’s flow around the painting. The line of the horizon is broken by the hills, but the intersection line between hill and sky is barely broken by trees, which contributes to a relatively static feel to the painting as a whole. This is fairly consistent with the overall painting.


Overall the mood of the painting is light and optimistic, with just a hint of ominous clouds.


  • The painting seems to be a happy landscape study with sheep.
  • There is little hint of a deeper artistic meaning, other than a universal appreciation of nature and the possibilities of the medium and subject.


I like the painting for its subject matter, and it connection with landscapes that I have walked and enjoyed. As such, the painting resonates with me in a way that it might not for others.

What have I learnt?

I think the “Making Sense of Art History” course has elaborated some of the techniques used in painting and drawing in a way that has allowed me to more fully consider paintings in the future. It’s a shame that the course isn’t complete, with the parts about Meaning and context missing in the free version. I suspect a similar level of tuition in these areas would help. Although my previous consideration of art analysis has given me keywords to consider, this work has elaborated the “how” more than the “what” for me.

In terms of the analysis of this painting, I think that has made me think a lot about my previous work and my conversation with my tutor about what is (in effect) a contour line between two onions which has damaged the feel of depth in the image. In general, I’m hoping this sort of consideration will help me in future compositions for my own work.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s