Acrylic: CRITIQUE: "A Spanish Song"

0609beaucrit_466x600_1Our critic offers advice on painting rounded forms with soft edges to create realistic portraits.

by Dawn Whitelaw

A Spanish Song
Acrylic on canvas panel.

The artist has created a dramatic composition with a very appealing combination of interesting textures. The drawing feels accurate and the range of values is good.

I have two suggestions for the artist, however. One: The painting will feel more realistic if certain edges are softer. For instance, the artist may want to consider painting the shoulder and the face as rounded forms with softer edges. Two: To increase the roundness of the head, incorporate more warm tones into the shadow on the left side of the face. Using a transition tone between the shadow and the light will also create the illusion of roundness.

About the Critic
Dawn Whitelaw
studies painting with Scott Christensen, Cedric Egeli, Jim Pollard, and Everett Raymond Kinstler. In 2002, she received the Award of Excellence and the Best of Show award in an international art competition sponsored by the Portrait Society of America, and she has exhibited her portrait, landscape, and still-life paintings in juried shows  organized by the Cumberland Society of Painters, the American Academy of Women Artists, and the Phoenix Historical Museum. For more information, visit Dawn Whitelaw's website.

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2 thoughts on “Acrylic: CRITIQUE: "A Spanish Song"

  1. Most of the problems that are identified in this critique are characteristics of attempting portraiture in acrylics. The primary problem is the fast drying of acrylics does not allow colors or values to be easily blended on the canvas or support. I have achieved adequate blending for landscapes and even still life with acrylic but not for portraits. The only solution that I’ve found is oil paint, OMS, and plenty of ventilation!

  2. I’ve found that using acrylics with dry brush application on a rough surface works very well for creating soft edges and any other subtle effect needed for portraiture. I’ve also found that painting on a damp fabric surface–one that has been primed with one thin layer of gesso–will allow a wet-in-wet blending of the initial paint layers. Another technique I use to capture subtlety is tapping edges with a damp sponge to soften them.