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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What is Art?

white cow in a snow storm

“White Cow in a Snow Storm” 50×50

So What is Art?

I thought I’d share with you my latest painting. It’s an exercise in Minimalist art. The black outline was added so you could see the painting.  No, I’m being sarcastic. I didn’t create White Cow in a Snow Storm, but it does lead me into the topic of  What is Art?

Artworks are like opinions and just like opinions, not everyone will agree on them. Attempts to describe what is art, often becomes a work of art in itself as an exercise in creative writing!

By definition art is an expression or application of human creative/technical skill  and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

However, the genre of Minimalist art which according to one source began in the 1950’s and continued thru the 1970’s was intended to thrive on simplicity in content and form, seeking to remove any sign of personal expression. It was to allow the viewer to experience the work more intensely without the distractions of composition, theme etc.

When TV Journalist Morley Safer died in May of this year (2016), a morning news segment highlighting one of his reports on contemporary art was shown whereby a museum curator was describing to Morley the large blank white canvas hanging on the wall was done by a Minimalist artist. As to who created it I’m both ignorant and apathetic. I don’t know and I don’t care.
Thinking to myself it’s no wonder that it was called minimal because it involved minimal work, minimal materials and minimal thought. After all it was a totally blank canvas. There are plenty of those in my  studio. Why I even have a brand new roll of the stuff. I can roll it out anytime and take in it’s beauty.  If you like, I will stretch one for you. On second thought I don’t want to work too hard, I’ll just buy one already stretched, put my signature on it so you can enjoy it on your wall. You can have it today, just let me know. Oh the price, it’s next to  nothing only a $1,000,000.00. Any takers? Please, serious inquiries only.

Not So Minimalist

If you’re looking for something more affordable and not quite so minimalist, I do have three paintings up on my eBay auction. These bear my “Byron” signature. The auction ends  Sunday July 31, 2016 at 6 PM pacific time. Each auction endings are spaced by 7 minutes, so you can have time to bid on another in case you miss out on one. The Bids are already starting. Remember, I never set a reserve and the bidding started at only a penny. You can click the link to go to my eBay profile and access the auction.

Misty Day 9x12 oil by Byron copyright 2016

Misty Day 9×12 oil by Byron copyright 2016

impressionist landscape autumn oil painting by Byron

Hues of Autumn 8×10 oil by Byron copyright 2016

Spring Days 9x12 oil by Byron copyright 2016

Spring Days 9×12 oil by Byron copyright 2016

Additionally I have two small 6″x8″ William Hagerman signature paintings shown below at Sherwoods Gallery in Houston, TX.

If interested in purchasing these please contact the gallery at: (713) 974-3700

landscape bluebonnet oil painting with cactus by William Hagerman

Bluebonnets and Cactus 6×8 oil by William Hagerman copyright 2016

landscape bluebonnet oil painting with barn windmill by William Hagerman

Sun and Clouds 6×8 oil by William Hagerman copyright 2016

Thanks for reading!

 

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Inspiring Art Teachers

I was thinking about some of the inspiring art teachers I’ve known. What got me to going down memory lane? Well, the wife and I are having a garage sale and our house is currently a mess. I’ve been hauling in boxes with STUFF in them to be priced, going thru this and that etc. In doing so I came across a box containing early paintings and artwork done in high school in the early 1980’s. This made me think of Mr. G my high school art teacher whom I still appreciate to this day.

Why my high school art teacher was an inspiration.

Mr. G (that’s what everyone called him) was great. I thought he was pretty cool. What made him so? Did he teach me some outstanding technique? No. He pretty much left me alone.

Whaaat??

Let me explain. My first class with him in the 10th grade was a commercial art class as it was the only one available at the time. Apparently I passed the course on the first assignment. Mr. G recognized the talent I had and from that moment on I was assigned to do nothing else but draw no matter what the rest of the class was doing. He even had me sit at a separate table near his desk so I wouldn’t have the distractions. I was to draw until I graduated.

One year I was put into a different teacher’s art class and I told Mr. G that I was sorry I wasn’t going to be in his class. He said “I’ll take care of that.” Back in his classroom once again, I remained there each year until graduation. I credit that time spent in Mr. G’s class in helping develop my drawing skills and giving me opportunities to explore and experiment. That was the best thing he could have ever done for me. He left me alone to practice and practice I did.

Today, as an art teacher I hope somewhere along the way someone will also consider me as one of their inspiring art teachers.

Early high school artworks

landscape pencil drawing from high school by William Hagerman

I spent a lot of time on this drawing. Don’t remember where the picture source came from. I don’t claim it as an original.

hs2sml

I even got to practice doing some animals. Is this Bullwinkle?

mixed media abstract of zebras

This class assignment focused on repetitive designs. It was done in mixed media including watercolor and colored pencil on paper.

The following painting was not done in high school art class, but it was from 1983, so I was still in high school at the time. Compared to my work just a year earlier it was a big improvement which I credit to spending more time on drawing. It was also an original and one of the better pieces that I painted during that time period.

moonlight oil painting

Hope you enjoyed going down memory lane with me and thank you Mr. G.

 

 

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Decorating: Color Coordinating with Artwork

When it comes to decorating, a color palette is often chosen beforehand in that the walls have been painted, the furniture and accessories are bought and then lastly the hunt is on for the artwork to fill the walls. Then you find a piece of art you have fallen in love with but it doesn’t match your decor or color scheme. Bummer. I hate this approach personally, because it often deprives you of art work that you would love to have. Plus somewhere upon saying “it doesn’t match my decor” an artist just cringed or rolled over in their grave. Instead try this approach in color coordinating with artwork.

Buy the art you love first. What I will show you next is a simple and effective way to color coordinate a color scheme to the artwork you have fallen in love with, using the paint program on your computer. Other photo programs can also be used, but might be more technical for the novice.

Start by taking a good digital photo of your art. Then download it onto your computer. Open the photo of the artwork with your Paint program. I’m on a Windows platform, but I imagine a Mac has something similar. Here I’m showing one of my Byron paintings.

Color Coordinating 1a

Notice that the photo has little handles at the corners and on the right side in the middle is a little box, place your mouse/curser over it and when it turns into an arrow drag it outwards to the right creating a blank white area.

Color Coordinating 2a

Next, look at the tools section for the color picker. Select the color picker and then use it to click on an area of color that you like in the photo of the artwork.

Color Coordinating 3a

Next look at the shapes section and select the square. Drag the shape out onto the blank white area. Then go back to tools and select the color fill then go back and hover over the square you just made and click it to color fill it with the color you selected.

Color Coordinating 5b

Repeat the process by selecting another color, create a box and color fill it until you have the number of colors you want.

Color Coordinating with artwork

Once you have your favorite colors picked save your image as a jpeg. I first saved it to my desktop and then I copied it my dropbox which is an app installed on my computer and iphone. Now I can access the photo I created on my phone. If I were going shopping for wall paint, curtains, accessories, furniture or whatever, I have a color palette at my fingertips saved on my mobile device that will guide me in my color choices. Now you’ll never have to say, “it doesn’t match my decor.” This can also be used to update a current color scheme by selecting new color choices using your current artwork.

The above illustrated Byron painting is also one of four new paintings up for auction on eBay. While the auction is still active the listings will show up on my user profile. Once there you can click on the paintings to go to the auction page. My auctions have no reserve and bidding starts at only a penny!

Here are the other Byron paintings:

Impressionist sunset oil paitning by Byron

Texas landscape bluebonnet oil painting by Byron

landscape oil painting of clouds impressionist oil by Byron

Thanks for reading! Would love to hear your comments.

 

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New Paintings for eBay art auction

After an absence from selling on eBay of my Byron art works due to several commissions, including a 4×6 foot Byron painting for the National Intrepid Center of Excellence at Fort Hood, I’m happy to say I have three new paintings for eBay art auction. The auction will end Thursday May 26th at 6PM Pacific Time or 8PM Central. Each of the three works are staggered to end with seven minute intervals. To go directly to the auction you can access it thru my eBay profile.

Here are the brand new “Byron” art works. Remember all my auctions start of at only a penny! A great way to start an art collection. Hope you win!

Texas hill country impressionist oil painting by Byron

impressionist moonlight oil painting by Byron

Texas Yucca impressionist oil painting by Byron

 

 

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Food and Art; It’s all in the presentation.

Recently my wife and I got away for the day to celebrate our 9th anniversary and do a little antique malling. Afterwards we were hungry but also wanted to check out any nearby places for wine tasting.  We came upon a place in Lubbock, TX called La Diosa Cellars. The food and wine was great, and then there was dessert. It got me to thinking about Food and Art; It’s all in the presentation!

Here’s a photo. That’s chocolate, blueberries and cream.

food and art

So what does this have to do with art? It’s all in the presentation. When we first walked into the establishment, we were greeted with a pleasing, artsy, laid back atmosphere. Very comfortable surroundings. The menu description of the food was mouth watering and then the presentation was great. So it goes with ones art work. If you want to put your work out there and sell it, make it palatable. If you’re showing your work in an art booth, make your surroundings inviting. If you work in 2D media, frame your work well.  The presentation can’t be overlooked. If your work is good to begin with, taking the time to make it even more mouthwatering is worth the extra effort as the photo below illustrates. So remember: Food and Art; It’s all in the presentation!

empty dessert plate

 

 

 

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Sharing Happiness Through Art

It’s always nice when sharing happiness through art when it touches the lives of other people. One such was a commissioned painting that I did under my alter ego “Byron”. Here’s a testimonial I’d like to share regarding the following painting.

Commissioned oil painting by William "Byron" Hagerman

My wife and I have a dog who has been with us for over 15 years. He has been a special part of our lives. We have seen 3 different apartments, 3 different homes, two different states, but the one constant has always been my wife and Spike.

Spike is getting older, he is on medications for his heart, his hair is more grey than black, and he doesn’t get around like he used to. However, one day we were back home during bluebonnet season in Texas and we captured the Spike of old. He was running and playing in a field of bluebonnets. It was as if he was transported back a couple of years. Fortunately we snapped a picture with our phone and it was perfection.

We decided the best way to honor Spike and this photo was to commission a painting to have forever. After doing some research, I came upon a William Hagerman. I loved the works I saw in person and online. I knew he would be the perfect person to make the photo come to life. From the first email to the final product, the commission process was easy. He took our photo, asked some questions, and sent a couple of rough drafts. The final piece was perfection. It truly captured the joy Spike has that day.

We will be forever grateful for the piece that he made for us. Thank you Mr. Hagerman.

Rene and Vanilla Macias-Rodriguez

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A Chapter Closed

The span of our life is 70 years, Or 80 if one is especially strong. But they are filled with trouble and sorrow; They quickly pass by, and away we fly. Psalms 90:10

A Chapter Closed

In January of 2015 I wrote a blog post on “Finding Beauty in Small Things” the subject of when an aging parent and child experience a role reversal in which the child becomes the caregiver and finding beauty in small things when circumstances are not always kind.  I wrote that first draft sitting in a hospital room watching over my Mother who was admitted the beginning of 2015. Then 11 months later in December of that year my Mother was back in the hospital for another week stay.  I realized after this it wouldn’t be long before I would have to say goodbye. Sadly March 21, 2016 my Mother quietly passed away at the age of 87.

She was a kind, gentle person and even up to the last days of her life she still managed to muster up a smile. She treasured the thought expressed by a man of God who lived many years ago who asked: “If a man (or person) dies, can he live again? He then answered with; I will wait all the days of my compulsory service until my relief comes. You will call, and I will answer you. You will long for the work of your hands.” Job 14:14, 15

Thus a chapter closed, but it’s not the end of the story. I recall a time when I was quite young walking along with my Mother. My feet and legs were starting to hurt and I began to protest and wanted to stop and not go any further even though there wasn’t much more distance to travel. She used an illustration to help keep me going. She had me look down the street to a stop sign and told me to imagine that on the other side was the fulfillment of all of God’s promises. The ones she had taught me about. She asked; do you think you can make it that far? I said yes, and so it happened. Such was her way of teaching and in way part of her legacy. I still get sore feet and legs, but I haven’t forgotten those words and I still try to look past the stop signs.

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How to Paint Bluebonnets

How to paint bluebonnets is the the focus here in part 4 of my oil painting demo series of posts on painting a Texas bluebonnet landscape.

First, I want to show the completed painting. This will give you an idea of where the painting is going. Click on the image for a larger view.

bluebonnet oil painting by William "Byron" Hagerman

I set the stage for the bluebonnets by putting in the grasses working from back to front. I darken the values as I come forward.

part4_1sml

Next I work to cover the rest of the canvas. I’m not focusing heavily on details at this point, just getting my under-painting done. For some of the textures of the grasses I like to use an old jagged edged bristle fan brush.

part4_2sml

After the paint dries I then move on to massing in the bluebonnets with a dark value of blue based off of Ultramarine. I departed somewhat in my traditional mixture by adding Indanthrene Blue by Winsor & Newton into the mix. Since bluebonnets lean towards blue violet I also add in some Dioxine Purple or add Permanent Rose or Alizarin for variety.

part4_3sml

I continue with my dark mix for the bluebonnets, working out a pattern that leads the eye back into the painting.

part4_4sml

After this layer dries I start adding lighter values for the bluebonnets working from the back to front.

part4_5sml

Here’s a detail of the bluebonnets.

how to paint bluebonnets

Another up close view of the painted bluebonnets.

part4_7sml

Once I finished all the bluebonnets I proceeded to other areas of the painting that needed the finish work such as the big tree, rocks, and cactus and a little bit of cutting back into the bluebonnets here and there with the grass color. I wanted to make sure they didn’t look as though they were floating and make the pattern more pleasing and believable.

The following are up close sections so you can see more of the finished detail. As you can see I’ve kept tight detail to a minimum. However, due to the size of the painting it looks more detailed than it really is. I first finish the pattern of the foliage with light dark and middle values. Then I add tree limbs. When dry I negative shape paint the sky holes, chiseling out the forms of limbs and further modifying the shape of the tree.

part5_oaktreedetail_sml

Another patch of completed bluebonnets and surrounding vegetation and rocks.

part5_bluebonnetdetail_sml

Detail of the middle ground cactus.

part5_cactusdetail_sml

Here’s the cactus in the foreground. Here you can see some individual bluebonnets scattered around although not haphazardly. I’m keeping my design in mind. These bluebonnets are a supportive role to the larger masses. Again on the topic of how to paint bluebonnets, notice how the bluebonnets have a dark value, followed by a lighter value and finally a white cap on top. It gives the flowers depth. Also some of the cactus stickers are hinted at. However, in the above image I have not added them except for a few catching the light. Why? They’re further away and your eye would not pick up that kind of detail. Plus the amount of detail has to be in proportion to the rest of the details in the painting. In other words, if your painting is more impressionistic would it make sense to add a bunch of tight detail on an object and leave the rest loosely painted. This might work on a close up view and keeping a background simple, but remember to keep your overall painting in mind and don’t get caught up in rendering details and loose focus on the whole. Every section has to relate to the other.

part5_foregroundcactus_sml

Below is a detail section of rocks. Remember a rock is a shape. It has sides and how the rock is positioned in relation to the light you will have different values. If only two sides are visible you will have a a light and shadow area. The same is true if you can see three sides, but you will have three values at a minimum. Light, mid value and shadow.  Don’t put your sunlight colors in areas that are to be in shadow or put shadow colors in areas that are in the light. Colors in the light are warmer, those in shadow are cooler, but sometimes they can appear somewhat warmer due to a warm reflected light bouncing off other warm colored rocks in sunshine. You learn to paint rocks by studying them. No good substitute for observing them and paying attention to how the light describes their form.

part5_rockdetail_sml

Here’s the detail area of the tree on the left and a view of the distant hills and lower sky. In painting the tree the sequence is establish the foliage first, them indicate limb structure and finally paint in the negative shapes on the sides of the limbs and other sky holes keeping in mind what’s in behind the tree. Often you will have to paint those values a little darker since they can appear to be stuck on top of the tree instead of being behind it. You can also modify the sky hole a little by overlapping it with some tree foliage.

part5_treehilldetail_sml

And finally here’s another close up view of the clouds in the right hand corner area. Again like any other shape a cloud has form to it and as such is subject to having light and shadow sides. Best way to learn to paint clouds is by actually studying them.

part5_clouddetail_sml

I hope that these series of posts will benefit you in your own painting.  Have fun learning!

 

 

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Painting Clouds an Oil Painting Demo

Here in part 3 of my oil painting demo of a Texas landscape I move on to painting clouds and the sky.

To begin the sky I start at the horizon. I do this to judge my values against the distant hill and values on the shadowed side of the tree up against the sky area. Click image to see a larger view.

painting clouds oil painting demo

Just as in the landscape portion of the painting the goal is to achieve a sense of distance. It is not some blue flat backdrop for the rest of the painting. There is aerial perspective in the sky and a diminishing size on the clouds as they move into the distance. The amount of dust particles or other adulterants floating in the air has an effect on the colors as the recede just as in the landscape portion. Typically white clouds are somewhat “whiter” for lack of a better word closer to you with often a discernible shift in the color of the white portion of the clouds towards orange to a pinkish hue near the horizon.

In the photo below of some white clouds you can see what I’m talking about somewhat at least. Notice how the whites have shifted to a pinkish gray towards the horizon.

color recession in clouds

color recession in clouds

Also the contrast becomes more subtle between the light and shadow areas of the clouds as they recede and colors become grayer. I’m not talking white and black gray here. Just duller in intensity.  I chose a variety of violet grays for this painting. Also be sure to overlap some clouds. This will make your painting more authentic and create a greater sense of depth.

After I establish a few of the clouds I then paint in the rest of the blue portion of the sky.

sky2_sml

Think of the sky of having 3 bands. A top section, middle and bottom and each section is further away. The top has more blue with a touch of red, so I use some ultramarine blue to the middle color which has more phthalo blue in it. The reason is that there is often a yellow element shifting the sky towards green as it recedes. I even use a little phthalo green. But once it gets to the horizon it shifts to a gray.

sky5_sml

Here’s the sky in context to the rest of the painting at this stage.

sky4_sml

In the next session I will move onto the rest of the landscape.

 

 

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