The Critique Blog

Sometimes an artist needs an extra pair of eyes, which is where the Critique Blog comes in. Artist Daily members submit their works to be evaluated by our editors with an eye toward all the things that go into a really stellar work of art: color, composition, light and shadow, and more. The Critique Blog is no longer accepting submissions but the archive is filled with critiques that are great lessons in themselves as the editors of American Artist magazine take you through their assessments on what works and what doesn’t in each piece.

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Oil Critique: "Hillside of Poppies"

Hillside of Poppies 2008, oil, 24 x 30. I have a few suggestions to offer for this painting. The artist may want to consider showing some cast shadows across the path. These shadows would have the same direction as the shadows of the trees, bushes, and house. I would also change the shape of the…

Portrait of an Old Man by Roger Burch, 2009, oil on linen, 20 x 16.

Oil Critique: "Portrait of an Old Man"

Portrait of an Old Man by Roger Burch, 2009, oil on linen, 20 x 16. The artist of this painting may want to consider lightening the irises of the eyes—especially the man’s right eye, since it is farther away from the viewer. Some edges of the hat could be lost into the background, so too…

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Oil Critique: "Welsh Landscape"

Welsh Landscapeby Patti DeWitt, 2007, oil, 16 x 20. A common challenge in painting summer landscapes is that there is usually so much green. In these cases artists can take lots of “artistic license” and have fun mixing lots of different greens, which can either be so warm that they are close to red or…

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Watercolor Critique: "Mountain"

Mountainby Michele A. Congdon, 2008, watercolor, 18 x 22. Three things would help this painting. First, the artist can vary the softness and hardness of edges. Edges in the distance can be made softer, even losing some into the sky. Second, the artist can vary the temperatures of the blues and browns, keeping in mind…

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Watercolor Critique: "Sofie"

Sofieby Nora Velastegui Pettersson, 2004, watercolor, 22 x 18. The artist has created an engaging portrait of a young woman. I especially like the simplicity of the nose and the mouth. The forehead has a great sense of roundness. Parts of the hair could be less linear, and this adjustment would put more attention on…

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Pastel Critique: "Mountain Stream"

Mountain Streamby Mary Ann Stafford, 2008, pastel, 18 x 24. The rocks and water in the foreground are very effective. I would like to have more of an impression that the water on the back waterfall is moving toward the viewer and connecting with the water in the front of the painting. To help with…

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Oil Critique: "Jealous Much?"

Jealous Much?by Sheri Crawford, 2008, oil on Masonite, 16 x 20. Bravo! This painting is strong in both concept and execution. It really does not need any “fixing.” A good exercise in this case is to consider alternate ideas for a piece. Another possibility for this painting might be to use the shadow to design…

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Oil Critique: "Teaching Grace"

Teaching Graceby Elaine Locati, oil, 18 x 24. The composition of this painting is great, and just a few adjustments might make the painting even better. A more neutral background would make the girl’s hair more prominent and would stay in the background. There’s some red in the woman’s cheek that could be toned down.…

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Oil Critique: "Rapid Reflections"

Rapid Reflectionsby Nancy Horwick, 2008, oil, 30 x 24. There are a few adjustments that I suggest for this piece. First, use some shadow colors (dark and medium tones) in the waterfall. Gray the whites—make some variations in the highlights. The other adjustment I would make would be to warm up the greens throughout the…

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Oil Critique: "Montana Fall"

Montana Fallby Elaine Locati, oil on board, 8 x 10. The composition is excellent. What needs a bit of help are the color choices. Backgrounds need to be cool, light in value, and not very intense. That means neutralizing the bright blue mountains with some grey-blue colors. I’d also suggest adjusting the foreground with some…

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Critique: "Still"

Still by Monte Ollinger, 24 x 20. There are many aspects of this piece that are very well done. The design is strong, the color harmony is very effective, and the painting technique is good. There is always a danger of breaking up form when light shapes are isolated. My suggestion is to link the…

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Acrylic Critique: "Blue Longing"

Blue Longingby Crystal MacEachern, 2007, acrylic on paper, 12 x 14. My main recommendation for this floral painting concerns illumination and shadow. There is a hint of shadow rendering in the centers of the flowers, and this concept needs to be used in the flower petals also. To render objects in a representative manner, an…