Critiquing Artwork

Critiquing Artwork

In this post I will share some points on critiquing your artwork.  A discussion with an art student brought this subject to mind.

At the time, we were talking about observable colors in some clouds. The student elicited the comment of “I wish I could see through your eyes.”  Much of the work involved in painting whether it’s mixing color or arranging the composition involves a process of analysis and observations. Asking a series of questions designed to identify and solve problems is called….

The Artist’s Self Critique

Follow along as some self critique’s are applied in bringing the painting “Lunch Companions” to a completion.

The Reference Photo

old building and cactus
Inspiration for “Lunch Companions” appeared while driving down a local street where an old building surrounded with cactus caught my attention. It will become the stage for the main characters which will include a donkey and two feathered lunch companions. However, color was lacking in the scene and the impact of the building’s hard geometric shape needed to be softened. To that end, a wisteria vine was added which will overlap the left of the building and extend onto the fence.

Composition Sketch
Thinned paint (ultramarine blue) and a brush is used for the sketch.

sketch for oil painting

Blocking in the Initial Colors

partical completion of an oil painting by William Hagerman
After the initial blocking in of color, the cactus in the foreground demanded way too much attention. It had to go.

Bye, Bye Cactus

painting demo partial completion of oil painting by William Hagerman

Since the paint wasn’t completely dry, odorless thinner was added to paper toweling and the cactus were wiped away. What remained was simply over painted. I liked the cactus in the original photo, so maybe just a few small ones on the left could remain.

The Final  Analysis

oil painting by William Hagerman before revision. Last stage before completion.
However, in the final self critique, they too had to go. When looking at the painting compared with the final one, notice that your eye simply drops down to the cactus no matter where else you look. The foreground cactus offers no supportive role and become the uninvited guests and party crashers of the scene.

old building, donkey and chickens. Oil painting by William Hagerman

Once gone, peace returns to the composition. The focal area of the donkey, wisteria vine and chickens remains the focal area. Now the stars of the painting can finish their lunch time grazing in peace. If interested in purchasing this piece please contact me.

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3 thoughts on “Critiquing Artwork

  1. Wally

    Hey Bill, I remember the good old days, coming to class and gradually getting better. I’ve started a new one and often check your work to learn from my mistakes. I should have tried to make a career of it. I could always go back to being a grease monkey. C’est la vie. Your old friend, Wally

    Reply
    1. William Post author

      Hey Wally! Yes, I remember those days and showing at the Celebration of the Arts with you. You were a good student with a lot of talent. When I have a little more time I’ll contact you directly. I have some thoughts about your painting and how you might be able to still carve out a niche whereby you could make some money with your art. I’m glad you still paint and that you didn’t totally give it up.

      Reply

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