So I'm pretty new here and everyone seems nice, but I'd like some honest observations about my latest painting.

I do think that this painting is a stepping stone for me and overall I'm happy with it, although I didn't follow some of the guidelines I was trying to follow. I've decided it's finished and now I will learn from it.

It's not easy to critique someone's art so I'll start off.

Background could have had more depth but overall is ok. I like the cast shadow.

I like the placement of the items. I'm happy with the vase but the shadow is not as good as it could be. (that's because I didn't follow my steps, and also because I didn't finish in one sitting, the paint dried and had trouble matching it again).

I'm happy with the lemons, but again, the shadows are not great.

The cloth is ok although it needs more movement and I should have made the table higher to see the end of the cloth.

The lights are not good enough. Not sure where it's coming from and highlights could be better.

Ok so that's how tough I am on myself. I'd love comments and don't hold back!

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Hey Glen......welcome to TAC.

I have just one thing to say.......The painting is very good and I love the composition.........only thing I think you should do is make the shadows from the lemons and grapes and folds in the cloth a tad darker...........xx

Hi Glen,  I agree with Cheekyjane re your painting.   The only thing that I can see is that the vase is tilting slightly but that could be down to how the scan or photo is taken.  I always get mine a tad lopsided.... should really invest in a small table tripod.

Good that you' are brave enough to ask for a critique of your work.  It is a great way to improve when your work is seen through another artists eye.

Thank you both for the replies. Yes indeed the shadows are not right. I think I have trouble making my darks dark enough, if that makes sense, and that includes shadows. Good stuff, something to work on.

Hi Glen,

Without being brutal ... allow me to make the following observations.

1- As a young artist ... still life bored me to death ... until one day-

2- I realized Still Life is about - composition, telling a story, light and shade
in other words ... Still Life is like practicing the scales in music.

3- So- to your painting - darks are not your problem. Understanding how color works
is the issue at hand.

4- Let's take the oranges on the left ... versus the lemon on the right.
On the left - closer to the light source - blast the orange highlights.
the shadows however - need to be blued over the orange - which will give
the shadows you want. The lemon on the right - should be yellow yellow
so you can shade the far side with red+blue.


5- The cherries are a challenge... as they are lined up like pawns on a
chessboard. But your painting is not a chessboard. You might bunch
the cherries on the left. But that is not your major challenge with
the cherries. The real challenge is they cannot be all the same red.
With 5 cherries ... you could move your reds in vibrancy from left
to right on a scale from 5 to 1. The cherry on your far right should
almost be purple-purple.

6- Now we come to the vase. I applaud the blue-white combination as it
works against the oranges and lemon color. But the vase could use
some attention. The shadow side is not grey. The shadow side will
pick up the background green-brown.

Let me stop here and talk about 'modeling' the vase ... or creating
in a 2d medium the feeling of a 3d shape. Your great highlight on the
upper left of the neck of the vase ... ought to be echoed as one's
eye moves down along the left side of the vase.

Which brings me to another observation. If the white of the table-
cloth on the right is so white ... it suggests a second light source
from the right - which conflicts with your shadowing on the right
side of the vase.

7- Having said all that ... I applaud your attempt at a Still Life.

8- There is just one more thing I would - with your permission - bring to your attention.

How are you moving the viewer's eye - into and and around your composition?

For example ... should you place the table-cloth on a diagonal
from left to right ... the red of the table on the left would
point towards the left most orange. The highlight of the orange could
be wound around the top of the orange and dropped onto the pear.
Should the pear be tilted from left to right ... the stem of
pear would echo the rounded second orange - and that orange
if moved to slightly overlap the bottom of the vase would catch
a highlight of the vase and shoot the eye upward to the blue neck.

And that is just one observation on the possibilities of controlling
the viewer's eye - into and around your painting.

Mars

Excellent. Thank you very much for taking the time to write a critique Mars. Some of the points you raised I did realise, most I didn't, so that is very helpful.

Thank you Mars.

I'm on a real search for improvement at the moment. I want to paint better, and I want to paint properly. Over the last few weeks I've been formulating guidelines based on advice from a favourite artist, breaking a painting down to steps, with each step having it's own steps, reminders of what needs to be done. This will really help me as there are too many to remember whilst actually trying to get a lemon to look like a lemon!

It's heartening to see that all of the points raised in Mars' critique are covered by my new process. It sounds a bit stiff, a process, but it definitely makes painting more exciting and for me it will actually loosen up my painting I believe. Now I know what to do and when.

So, it's great to receive a valuable critique, but it's useless unless I do something about it, so in brackets are the actions from my guidelines needed to correct the points raised.

Mars mentions the oranges. Actually they're all lemons in this painting so the shape may be off! (place local colour at the starting, or lightest, edge) (Shadows are a major step and are established early in the painting at the correct value and colour)

The cherries. (mass the shapes) + I've now made a shadow box which lets me control the light and let me see the colour changes.

The vase. The shadow step.

The vase highlight. The shadow step + (place local colour at the starting, or lightest, edge). (use cool, dynamic highlights)

Tablecloth too bright on the shadowy side. It's so obvious when pointed out! The shadow step will help, + the shadow box to control and see the light.

Composition: (move from left to right, focal point or climax, on the right for example), (mass the shapes), (create depth).

Thanks again to Mars for a great critique. It's obvious you know what you're talking about, and I look forward to the next one!

Nice work.
If your vase base is round and you are looking down at the vase, the base will appear rounder than the top opening.
With your cast shadows, incorporate the colors from the object casting the shadow. Yellow mingled in the lemon shadows, red in the cherry shadows, etc. The color actually is reflected on other surfaces. A white surface reflects the most. A black surface absorbs the color.
Lemons on the left are a little deflated.

Hi Glen I too like brutal critiques. It is one way to grow. Your use of color is good. You paint well. But the painting is boring. A teacher of mind use to say add a surprize. Try zooming in make the vase or lemons the focal point or add a black fly. What you need now is a bit of drama to make your interesting. take a picture of your work and try cropping the photo in different ways to get a more focused composition. Remember the 5 C to art. Composition, Color, Clarity, Cleaningness and Content. Good luck dont give up. Theresa

Thanks Theresa. Yes since this painting I've learned to have a focal point, tell a story, add drama. Hopefully soon that will translate to the canvas. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

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