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Please critique my 6 months' work

edited August 2017 in Post Your Paintings
Hello everyone,

I had been planning to do this after completing 10 paintings, but a few more paintings might help make more of a sense. I've laid out the paintings according to their composition but I can also post another based on a timeline.

I welcome all  criticisms, suggestions of what to  improve, what I should watch out for, what to avoid.... I try to be as close to the photo as possible, is it okay, or is it stifling self expression? If I'm painting from a photo is it still self expression? Should I make more paintings of all the categories (still-life, portraits etc) or should I stick to one?  Also, looking at the collection, what do you think, is it holding or falling apart? 

About my paintings, all of them are from photos; I try to stay as close to the photo as possible (still life/portraits), with the exception of landscapes, where I try to convey the idea of a particular object (grass/leaves) rather than painting too precise (except when the object is too close).

I am most relaxed when painting still lifes, but I fail to make interesting compositions with the things I have at hand. Being bad at photography doesn't help either. And at present my painting space is a little too cozy too add on a shadow box setup.

I haven't done too many portraits and I am convinced to paint one if there is a good play of shadow and light. But there are very few good photos out there and so I am not able to paint as much as I want.

I love landscapes the most and also the most intimidated  by them because of the close interplay of so many values. Good thing is the internet is full of beautiful photos (though shadows are unnaturally dark and lifeless).

Lastly, you've all been very kind, through this  month journey, helping me with many tips and complements... but I hope you will find time to critique this time. I need to hear what I should hear.

Thank you 

PS.: Are these small versions of the photo okay to work with or should I post all the original ones here too? 



  • @anwesha I've never seen anything like you, your paintings, and productivity in my lifetime.  Your work and presentation here are flawless.  I have absolutely no criticisms.  This forum is made so much better for your presence and participation.  I hope you will continue to honor us with future paintings and surprise us with your well-chosen subject matter.  I'm actually speechless so I don't know how I have put down this many words already.  I am so impressed.  A big hug.  Summer   :)  
  • @Summer : Thank you so much Summer... But do feel free to mention anything... I feel I am stuck in a position, where I'm not quite improving as I don't know where to prioritize. You have experience with commissions, you have met people, what do you think interests people, am I on the right track.... will this work interest others... I am sorry, do I sound too demanding? :#
  • I will not critique your current work because it is flawless! Ok--maybe this--maybe the landscapes are too perfect -- try a landscape that is unexpected. The path is the one I like best because it comes closest to this. What I love about @Kaustav's work is that you feel like he sharing a hidden space he has discovered or a glimpse of rarely seen atmospheric light upon his subject (see my note below about photography!)

    As for what to paint next- Perhaps let your insecurities guide you. What do you find intimidating or what do you feel you lack experience with? Q: These paintings are all beautiful studies -- which of them are based on photos you took? You mentioned being "bad" at photography -- you are not bad but perhaps inexperienced -- set that as part of your next challenge for yourself. (Btw-I take 100 shots for every 1-2 I even remotely like!) taking the photo gives you the ability to compose in a way that using someone else's photo doesn't. I would also encourage you to do a serious portrait and by that I mean one with a lot of detail and expression. It is such an excellent learning opportunity -- or maybe a self portrait (says the woman (me) totally terrified to try that!!!) LOL!
  • SummerSummer -
    edited August 2017
    @anwesha There are many directions you can take from here on out.  It wouldn't hurt to choose your next city, institution, and possibly a gallery larger than yourself to serve as your base.  You have a body of work that you can show to someone who has a gallery specializing in your type of paintings and get professional advice from them about where to go from here.  You might accept a commission or two to round out your experience.  Your teachers and peers could have something specific in mind that might interest you connected with travel but then you sound well traveled already.  Certainly one thing will lead to another.  A professional studio, business cards, taking another camera course that would change the size and content of your paintings to include panoramic and high dynamic range views if this interests you.  I'd certainly contact a career specialist first.  Because you are so over-qualified already, I'd speak with a museum curator and make acquaintances with other professionals in the arts.  Going to the right parties helps.  Your paintings are in demand in the right enclave.  You have to be selective and insert yourself into those enclaves.  How much online business are you willing to develop.  Will you need professionals to assist you?  I think that the world is your oyster but dreaming your own dreams first helps with the road that you will decide to take.  Hope this helps.  Summer  
  • Great painter !!!love them !!!
  • edited August 2017
    @Bancroft414 : Thank you so much for writing in such detail... I am trying to loosen up in landscape paintings and am hugely inspired by forum members here like Kaustav, Tassieguy, who paint in that style... Oh and you asked which were the paintings from my photos taken by me, they are still life 1,3 and 4; Landscape 1, 2 (by husband), 3 and 5. All others are from online photos. You are right I should take my own photos more.. have to get rid of the awkwardness of doing that.... (my major issue).  And more portraits definitely coming up!
  • @movealonghome : Thank you so much! I am planning to move my landscapes more towards less blending, with bigger brushes... Since I saw Peder Mork Monstead's work I'm in total awe of what you can do with landscapes.. Have you checked out his work (nice collection in facebook) ? They are awesome!
  • Thank you so much @Summer! I really needed this sort of advice regarding the type of groundwork to be done, other than just painting... I really appreciate all this info you have given.... I should probably start with an art related linkedin account and a simple website.... And I really need to get over this camera fear.... Thank you for the detailed suggestions! <3
  • edited August 2017
    @Barbara : Thank you @Barbara ! Photography is something I am going to take seriously from now, as everyone is suggesting it to me... 
  • PaulBPaulB mod
    @anwesha, I have some feedback, which I hope sounds as constructive as it is intended.

    Every painting of yours is technically precise and superb, and I couldn't come close to doing this.

    That said, my favorite paintings of yours are #5 (Himalayan Foothills) and #6 (The Afternoon in Alibaug).  I consider #6 the best, and the reason is that I feel there is a story there.  I'm wondering where the ladies are going, and what they are talking about.  @Julianna said that putting protein in a painting improves it, and I agree.  #5 is wonderfully atmospheric, and I love that quality.

    The other paintings don't hold my attention well, and I feel they are more like postcards.  The castle, for example, would make a wonderful jigsaw, but it makes me feel you weren't there, it's too perfect.  I want it to be more personal.  I want to see your version of an @mchewett Texas scene, something a little messy.  I want the animals and portraits to stare back at me.
  • Excellent point, @PaulB! I think 'personal' is really important. I think taking the photo will make the original image that much more personal.
  • edited August 2017
    @anwesha, technically you are there - your paintings look masterful. I like your landscapes the best. I agree with @PaulB and #5 (Himalayan Foothills) and #6 (The Afternoon in Alibaug) are among my favorites. But they are all beautiful. 

    Having mastered the technique I think you can now start to free up and take risks with composition, texture etc in developing your personal style. And, as far as possible, paint from life or use your own photos. If using photos for landscape then, while on site taking the photos, make notes of the scene because your eye will see things the camera doesn't. For example, you can see into shadows that would be left  as just dark areas in a photo. So compare what your camera has captured with what you can see with your own eyes and make notes of deficiencies in the photos.

    I think the body of high quality work you have produced in just six months is amazing and I'm sure you are going to do great things in future.

    Rob :)
  • @anwesha funny that you enjoy landscapes more as I also enjoy your landscapes more.  By "more" - all of these are outstanding, so for me, your landscapes are a notch above.  It is personal.  What is your goal?  Do you want to paint just to fulfill yourself or do you want to make a living as an artist?  One very cheap and quick way to find out what appeals to people is to open an etsy shop and list your paintings for sale.  The customers there are fantastic and you'll get a real quick barometer of what the general public prefers in your work.  @PaulB in full disclosure, it was Richard Schmid's mentor who said that putting protein in paintings always improves it :).   @anwesha your work is lovely and thank you for sharing.
  • I agree with the other comments. Your technical skills are excellent and I think your landscapes are the stronger of your paintings. I think you are choosing nice images to paint, but perhaps not ones which will leave much emotional response?

    As you don't need to improve your technical skills I would make two suggestions which I have found useful:

    1. Try a painting with much less colour steps, it will make you paint a bit looser and try to convey the difference in values more in your painting strokes rather than mixed on the palette.

    2. Copy other artists paintings! You can practise copying ones that you really like because of the composition and style and it will give you useful experience in painting something that's not as realistic as a photo.
  • @anwesha probably it is not right for me to give improvement suggestions to you as I am much inferior in terms of skill compared to yours. 
    I would like to say only a few points that I believe will be very helpful. You don't have agree to any of the following though:
    1. Create movement: this happens when paintings are painted from photos. A sense of movement remains missing and a stillness prevails. 
    2. Paint from life more and more: when you paint from life you'll paint faster and this will create a sense of movement. 
    3. Beware of blacks in the source photos: darks become black in the photo. Gallery guys notice this very quickly. If you paint from two photos one for light colors and one from darks that are overblown a little then this problem can be countered. 
  • First let me say your paintings are excellent. The only observation I can offer is that you tend to use a very somber pallet for the majority of your paintings. Try a composition with bright, high value colors. Maybe a bright blue sky with white clouds, blue sea, sun lit sand beach. I think it would give you a new direction to explore and open many possibilities for your talent.
  • @anwesha I adore your work.  It is beautiful.  If you are interested in landscape, may I suggest that you look at  He is a fabulous landscape painter.  He lives in Texas and I think you will be impressed with his paintings.  You could also friend him on Facebook. 
  • This is a general message to all who have taken out time to review and write, and also who might write in the future..... a very big THANK YOU!! <3 I truly appreciate all the efforts put in here... It is of immense help and I feel I should have done this much earlier..
  • edited August 2017
    Thank you so much  @PaulB for the inputs.... I understand now how important the subject is now.. I actually filled a folder with postcard type landscapes to paint, but I will give a second thought about them... I was always afraid to paint from my personal collection photos thinking it wouldn't interest others as much.... rather the "picture perfect" "touristy" photos would be something that all would like... I see how I was wrong.... Your words were very valuable and I thank you again for that...
  • @tassieguy : Thank you so much for this review.... I am planning to do more paintings from my personal photo collection now, as they seem to click better and more original.... I really want to attain a personal style of brushstrokes and loosening up and I am going to practice that in my next paintings... The monarch round #00 has been my partner in crime.... I guess its high time I break this partnership if I want to loosen up... Thank you again!
  • @Julianna : Thank you so much! I don't know about what the future will hold but I would definitely give a shot at being a full-time artist, failing which I will go back to what my formal education holds in store...( so boring :'( ) Thank you for the idea of an etsy shop... I wonder if a new person like me have any footfall.. But worth a try..!
  • edited August 2017
    Thank you @Richard_P ! I think I can work right away at your suggestions... I have been painting too many steps for all paintings.. and focusing on positioning those steps correctly on the canvas rather than giving much thought about my brushstrokes... Less steps sounds the right thing to do.... And nowadays I am so smitten by Monstead, sounds very tempting to try painting one of his works.... His landscapes are amazing.....Do you think it will be okay to share in this forum, when I do? 
  • @Kaustav : That's too much humility on your side!! I am a huge admirer of your work, techniques, approach, subject and style.. and try to honestly learn from them... Thank you for your inputs.... you are right I am missing too much from not painting from life.. nothing beats the original... Me being a veryyy slow painter, painting from life seems very intimidating.. but I will make a start with something like a simple still life and then go on to landscape... And thank you for the warning about the blacks.. will keep it in mind! 
  • @tgarney ; Thank you for your input.. that is an absolutely correct observation.... and I plan to do some of my own photos of bright sunny outdoors in the future... it will be a nice shift... Photos already lined up!
  • edited August 2017
    @movealonghome : I love Monstead's landscapes.. how he plays with the strong afternoon lights... there are hardly any blacks in his painting.. the green forests look so fresh as if painted recently.... and mostly that its the common scenes that he is elevating by his painting... not the always beautiful scenes elevating the painting...
  • This is a wonderful set of paintings @anwesha. Your values and colours and spot-on, as are the compositions. There is lots of good feedback above, and the only thing I'll add is again related to painting from photo's. To me, of all of your works only the castle and the cow come across as obviously photo-sourced. I think it may because they are based on a wide-ish angle lens, so the lens characteristics are more pronounced - its hard to quantify, but I suspect is related to divergent/or convergent/or bowed horizontal and vertical lines (arising from various sorts of lens distortion that are more common in wide-angle lenses). I'm not saying this is a bad thing and both paintings are lovely, its just they look like paintings from photos, rather paintings of the subjects themselves. If you want to avoid that effect then you can either choose different photos, or identify and adjust for camera artefacts in your drawing, or depending on the source material distortions can sometimes be corrected in photo-processing software. Congratulations again on your progress. Inspirational.
  • In an earlier discussion before you came to the forum, a person had a similar situation after posting several paintings and was asking for feedback and "where to go from here" Someone suggested painting a few monochromes.... self portrait.... copy old masters. I think those may be good suggestions for you and would add what's already been offered here about painting more from life. You are so thorough and meticulous when you paint, I wonder what would happen if you were painting from life.
  • @oilpainter1950 : Thank you so much for the site!! Its a treasure trove of my favourite kind of paintings!
  • @Roxy : Thank you so much ! I will definitely try to keep that in mind when I choose the next photos. Usually I am so engrossed with the subject, these other factors kind of fade out.... and I need to educate myself of these camera technicalities... Thanks again!
  • Thank you @BOB73 ! I have them on my "to do" list.... more portraits and copying a master.... monochrome sounds so boring though.. don't you think..? Painting from life, is a terrifying thought for me but I will definitely start with it as so many have suggested... need to figure out a fruit that will survive a slow painter  :# 
  • Painting from life and monochromes doesn't mean they have to be boring. Paint another ox or a parked car or your house or a tree. Still lifes don't need fruit. A colorful scarf arranged on a friend's arm could be a stillife. or a nice composition if it doesn't qualify. Monochromes are good practice for getting the values right. 
  • I absolutely agree @BOB73 , with the importance.....   :)
  • edited August 2017
    I agree with everyone above and I also encourage you to work from life more frequently, you can have a lot of fun setting up your own still lifes in a shadow box and develop a style that would attract clients, and self portraiture and portraits of others, include costumes, so much room for creativity here. All of this will impact all your work from photos dramatically.
  • @Forgiveness : Thank you so much for the input.... I am going to honestly give my best to painting from life in between painting from photos.... its time I give the creative aspects a push.. other than just the painting part
  • @anwesha thank you for putting yourself and your art out here for a robust group critique and feedback. The recommendations offered to you are helpful for many of us to consider. I have learned a tremendous amount through reading this thread!!
  • @Bancroft414 : yes, it has been a tremendous learning experience for many of us learners....
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