Acrylics on canvas panel 12x10 in

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Comment by Richard Robinson on September 4, 2011 at 10:22
:-) Hey thanks Carla - glad you didn't take my criticisms in a personal way (always a possibility). These critiques are just my opinion though, even though I will have more experience in some cases, the beauty is always in the eye of the beholder as they say. Feel free to paint another one and upload it too - would be great to see what you do with the next one.
Comment by Carla Whelan on September 4, 2011 at 10:14

Wow Richard, you have given me so much to think about! So many things I hadn't even considered. It is so wonderful to receive such a detailed critique of my painting. I did realise that the foreground was lacking, I found it most difficult to do with all that detail, what to include, what to leave out. There were so many other points that had not occurred to me, and that's what's so valuable about this workshop, and makes me so glad to have joined you here. Thank you so much!

I am going to my art room and re-read your comments many times and try another painting, hopefully an improvement. When done should I upload it or would that be unfair?

Thanks again.

Comment by Richard Robinson on September 4, 2011 at 9:44

Hi Carla, thanks for your painting. You've made a bold decision in cropping the image down to this segment - something I would also be inclined to do as well at first because of its elegant graphic simplicity. You've painted the tree well with good structure and roundness of form in the main branches, including the shadows it casts upon itself - not an easy thing to do, especially on the small scale 12x10" canvas. A few more cast shadows would have really solidified the roundness of the branch.


The rest of the painting seems to play only a supporting role to the overhanging branches, but unfortunately there's not enough interest there to hold my attention for long. Perhaps if the barn had been brought forward that would have given the eye somewhere else to visit. As it is, the long sharp wedge of the hill points like an arrow off the side of the painting, telling the eye where to go and the post on the left makes a similar mistake by bringing attention to the side of the canvas like an actor poking their head out from the side of the stage - better to leave that one out or move it in further - one or the other. 


You've divided your canvas cleanly in half with the horizon which  is normally condemned as one of the original sins of poor composition so it's definitely something to watch out for, but in this top heavy composition I don't think it really matters much, although it would certainly have been nice to break that long straight line up a little with some lost edges, or mid-ground trees, or moving that barn forward - anything to add variation. Our tendency is to simplify everything we see, but our eyes love variation, relationships and complexity so our job as painters as I see it is to provide those things in a painting. You've certainly provided that in spades with your tree, but it's a seems a shame there's not more of that in the bottom foreground which could do with some more detail (and warmth - try adding a little violet) in the shadows on the snow and some more clumps of grass. Maybe a rope swing off the tree would help connect the top and bottom of the painting too?


Another point is the form of the mountain - in the original photo you can see subtle but definite value plains - the light plains on the left hand faces tilted towards the sun. You haven't quite got that in your mountain and it seems a little flat because of it, despite the drawing of the angles and shapes being pretty good. Suggesting a very distant mountain behind this one would also have helped with the sense of depth and added more interest and more story to the piece as well. Overall I think it's a pleasing image at first but is lacking enough interest and variation to withstand the test of time.

Comment by Carla Whelan on August 31, 2011 at 12:57
Gosh thanks Barbara. And I thought I'd done such a poor job of them!
Comment by Barbara A Boswell on August 31, 2011 at 10:42
I love your twig and branch work.
Comment by Carla Whelan on August 30, 2011 at 17:55
Thank you Iwan and Merv. I appreciate your kind comment.
Comment by Merv Appleton on August 30, 2011 at 15:36
Nice one Carla, hope to have mine uploaded soon


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