Graphite Critique "Intensity"

by Karrie Platfoot, 2009, graphite, 10 x 8.

You might want to know that this self-portrait was drawn by a high-school student. I was impressed.

The mood, gesture of the body, and expression are all presented very well in this drawing. In order to bring even more intensity to the piece, I would recommend simplifying the drawing in two ways. First, I suggest eliminating the stripe on the pants, or at least making it more subtle. The other area where I would recommend simplification is on the shirt. We are all tempted to over-model the wrinkles in clothes because it is easier to render the folds than to find the body underneath. In this case, some elimination of wrinkles or reduction of the contrast will help define the plane underneath.

The painting adjusted by the critic to
illustrate her suggestions.

About the Critic

Dawn Whitelaw has studied painting with Scott Christensen, Cedric Egeli, Jim Pollard, and Everett Raymond Kinstler. In 2002 she received the Award of Excellence and Best of Show in an international 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.

Have your artwork critiqued!
Send scanned images as JPEGs no larger than 2mb with the title of the artwork, year, medium, and dimensions. Limit: three submissions per person every 90 days. We will not notify those selected for critiquing, nor will we notify those not selected. Submission of artwork to the e-mail address constitutes permission to reproduce your painting or drawing, online or in print, in conjunction with this service.

Tap into the experience and knowledge of our featured artists today. Submit your artwork to:

Related Posts:


The Critique Blog

About BrianRiley

Brian Riley is the managing editor for the American Artist family of titles (American Artist, Watercolor, Drawing & Workshop) and has been part of the AA team since 2003. He first became interested in art as a child, specifically drawing, but drifted away from the visual arts as he grew older, gravitating towards writing while in college. His position at AA has offered him the opportunity to reinvigorate his early passion and continue his education.  

5 thoughts on “Graphite Critique "Intensity"

  1. Now I’m confused. I thought the wrinkles and the lines were good thinks to incorporate, and as a matter of fact, a sign of skill in the artist. I don’t particularly grasp the model’s form any more clearly in the finished product than I did in the busier original. I half expected the finished product to feature prominent breasts, which it doesn’t, if the goal was to allow the body planes to manifest.
    My experience with trying to draw clothed figures is that final details are painful to settle down on, to work on. I’m a beginning illustrator. The fine illustrators who do fashion work that sneaks into realistic fine art often will feature the busy details to remove the cartoony feel, or so it seems.
    Can you clarify this for me?

  2. As an artist of more than 30 years, like Dawn, I would have to respectfully disagree with her assessment. This is not a painting but a tight graphite rendering. The details mentioned in her critique are extensions of the artist and her style, which is not loose. I would grant Karrie a validation of her style and not touch the drawing as it stands– a representation of her technique at this point in time. However, I would like to offer words that inspire her to keep plumbing the essence of her drawings and push the boundaries of what she is seeing. Instead of a critique, I would ask Karrie if she was happy with the rendering. If not, I would help her develop her own set of criteria in line with her vision to troubleshoot her own work.

  3. I agree with JB – the stripe on the pants was distracting – HOWEVER I think the shirt looked much better the original way. The critic did NOT find the body beneath the shirt. He took a very tight (but wonderful) painting and added un-necessary looseness to it.

  4. This is a brilliant drawing when you consider that it was done by a High School Student! Well done Karrie!! I have to agree that the stripe on the pants is drawing your eye and distracting from the more relevant parts of the drawing. My experience has been in video graphics for many years where I have done a lot of color grading and my feeling is that the drawing lacks contrast. A better result would have been achieved if the darks in the background and the less important parts of the picture were pushed back and the more important ones (face, front of the shirt nearest knee and foot etc.) were hilighted and brought forward. I have played with the image on Photoshop to do a comparison, but alas cannot find a way to attach it to my comment.