Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Everyone Needs a Critic

I have one friend that I can depend on that will always tell me the truth about my artist endeavors. She will always tell me what she likes about my creation but equally she doesn't hold back with truthful criticism and since she has nearly 40 years of painting experience, I know that she knows what she is talking about. Sometimes it is hard to hear but it is EXACTLY what I need if I want to grow as an artist.

Right now, my week has been consumed with working on my very first commission piece and last night my friend had a great deal of sound advice regarding my progress. The issue with this commission piece is that the buyer has requested a combination of two of my existing paintings on one canvas. Both of these pieces were featured in the Mar/April 2013 edition of "Gold Prospectors Magazine". Now with many paintings that might not be a problem per say but in this case we are talking about two completely different landscapes; one is of a mining shack that I painted near Tonopah, Nevada and is smack dab in the heart of the Mojave Desert and the other one is of a prospector panning for gold in a mountain stream. The focus of both is gold mining but blending the two together is proving difficult.

I had followed her previous council and had created a rendering by doing a pencil sketch of the layout based upon the conversation I had with the buyer. The buyer said he loved the idea and so I proceeded to start my painting. Visually, I worked to combine the sky and mountains between the two scenes and then my plan was to separate the two scenes by using tall pines trees and shrub pine in the center as a division. When I was about 3/4 of the way complete, I sent a progress picture to my friend and she had a great deal to say about it.

First, she told me that it was breaking a huge compositional rule by having large trees in the center of my canvas and that these trees are the focal point when they shouldn't be. No matter if the buyer agreed, it was my job as the artist to direct him to a composition that works and while they may be buying the piece upon completion, I still owned this work. They will probably be in awe at anything you paint because they don't possess the artistic skill to paint anything and that is why they hired me. She didn't want me putting something out there that I might later regret. All I can say about this is that I sure have a lot to learn about this art business.

Then she gave me some helpful advise to consider a correction. She advised me to take a heavy bristol paper and to tape it on to the canvas in the problem area. Then re-paint the scene that better brings the two paintings together and that will minimize the center pine trees. This way I can visually see the correction before I start laying waste to my piece and deciding this wasn't going to work. Wise advice to be sure.

I have included the pictures of my original works and the current piece in progression so that you as the reader might learn along with me. After all, the purpose of this blog is to hopefully help other aspiring artists like myself by sharing my journey.

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