Crit Corner Birthday Celebration Part 1
Sep 10 2015

Welcome to our first crit corner of the year! Hurray! It’s my hope that I can make this a regular occurrence as a way to give back to the art community. My goal is not to proclaim myself as the almighty critic–far from it. Instead the following suggestions are just that, suggestions. Sometimes a piece just needs a pair of fresh eyes and an outside perspective. Note also that my paintovers are NOT taken to the finished level, but instead left in as a rough direction of where I would take the piece were the image mine.

Mermaid by Owen Pierce

Our first image comes from Owen Pierce. First off, I love the long canvas you’ve created. The curving shapes of the form are nice as they interact with the undersea wildlife. I especially like that your greatest level of contrast is the face–exactly the focal point we want.

That being said, I see some issues straight away with the posing. When humans are at rest either sitting or standing we tend to settle into contrapposto. When drawing the figure standing, the weight-bearing leg and connected hip will be drawn higher than the relaxed hip and leg. Likewise, when the body is being supported by an arm, the shoulder will pop up and other shoulder will settle into a more relaxed position. Therefore I have lowered her left shoulder and let her right shoulder take on more gesture. This creates a more natural feel. Also, your lighting could be more defined. Push the values with lighter lights and darker darks while maintaining a clear directional light-source. I feel the tail could use a darker, more reflective surface and more definition in the face would really help pull the piece together.

My Paintover and The Before and After:


Kaladin by Rachel Brown

Our next image comes from Rachel Brown. Anyone else notice a striking resemblance to our favorite high-functioning sociopath from a certain popular BBC show? =p

Overall I think your proportions are good which a lot of people struggle with, so good for you. I also love the muscles visible in the hand and forearm. That being said, there is room for a tad more movement in the pose. Below I have quick sketch of an alternate pose with the same overall feel but with added gesture and urgency, as if the man has leaped into the air rather than being suspended from a hardness casually looking down on the world. Again, it’s not a huge issue, just a suggestion.

My second reaction to the piece was that it feels a bit flat. Three things are causing this unwanted effect. First, you need more contrast. Everything looks to be rendered in mid-tone. Without darker darks and lighter lights you don’t get the wrapping/volumizing effect around the body. Second, you have an ambiguous light source. Note that based on the face light is coming from the top right but the boots show the light coming from the opposite direction. Be consistent throughout to help define the form and give it the depth and realism you’re looking for. Also, your colors could use some more variation. With such a cool color scheme one would expect cooler tones in the shadows of the skin-tone but I see none. This again creates the effect of a character detached from its environment and pasted onto the canvas. Mix some of the background colors into the foreground and the foreground colors into the background to help. On a final note, I am not sure what the swirls around the character are. Are they meant to be some sort of glow? If so, you’ll want to add lighting to the rest of the piece to reflect this. Right now I can’t tell if it’s a ribbon, magic, or air.

The Before and After:


The Northern Nave by Maya Polovitskaya

Our next image is another traditional piece by artist Maya Polovitskaya. Immediately I am struck by the beauty of the convalesing shapes, the edges which bleed into the ground, and the artistry of the color application. Bravo Ms Polovitskaya, bravo!

The only thing I have to critique is one of the hardest things to achieve as a traditional artist drawing architecture–that ever-important perspective. First, I must say that what you have here is lovely and if I weren’t trained to see it, I might not notice a slight divergence in angles. To the layman, the difference is negligible, but I have some minor corrections below.

As you probably know, when it comes to perspective all lines must converge into the established vanishing points. When we are in a large space (like in a cathedral) or outside looking up at a bunch of buildings from ground level we see the architecture above us in 3-point perspective which means the lines are wider at the bottom (closer to us) and narrower at the top (farther from us). In your image however, the ceiling area looks wider at the top while the columns narrow in toward the bottom. This is classic divergence rather than convergence. In general it’s best to err on the side of too much convergence rather than not enough. Everything else however, looks gorgeous.


In Conclusion

Thanks all of you for being willing to post your work. To keep this posts from stretching into unmanageable lengths, I will upload the rest of the critiques on Sunday but be sure to tune in for part II! Come again soon!
**All rights to the above artwork belong to the original artists.

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3 thoughts on “Crit Corner Birthday Celebration Part 1

  1. Thank you that is really helpful. I have been unhappy with the piece for a while and those suggestions are great. I think I will redo it and see if I can get a more unified eye catching piece. I love the way you did the redo’s that helped me to see your suggestions as well as read them. Thanks!

  2. Thanks so much! Your suggestions are spot on I think, I’m actually excited to get back to work on this and get her painted now! Thanks again, hope your birthday was awesome!

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