Oil and Acrylic Critique: "Grandpa's Ranch" and "Archwalk"

Grandpa's Ranch
2007, oil, 16 x 20.
2006, acrylic, 24 x 36.

The subject of “architecture in nature” or “nature in architecture” is always exciting. Here the artist has found two great subjects and has done a good job focusing in on the color and light. There is some perspective distortion here, but that is most likely due to a camera lens  bending straight lines. The suggestion I would offer has to do with locating the right color green to allow for variation and identification of the foliage. I like to remind my students that “identical colors tend to occupy the same space”. By this I mean that if you have a bright green bush in the foreground with the identical bright green in the background (or close to the same intensity), the two objects tend to sit on one plane and work against creating a sense of space. Add to that the complex method of finding the correct green, and you have quite a challenge. Experience makes all the difference. Years and years of mixing greens allows you to see all the variations. Identifying warm greens and cool greens is also important. I was trained on a limited palette of color and over the years have shied away from using tube greens. I now use them, but only as a mix with something else. Sap green is just unnatural, but add a touch of yellow ochre and you get a very nice green that matches some greens found in nature. This is not to say that the artist here is using all the same greens, but I am suggesting that the artist should look to make sure the trees in the front have some variation with the foliage in the distance.

About the Critic
Colin J. Callahan
teaches painting and art history at St. Paul's School, in Concord, New Hampshire, where he also runs the school's gallery. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from College of the Holy Cross, in Worcester, Massachusetts, and he studied painting at Centro Barbieri, in Rome. Callahan is represented by Anderson-Soule Gallery, in Concord, New Hampshire. To view the artist's work, visit www.colincallahan.com.

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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.  

One thought on “Oil and Acrylic Critique: "Grandpa's Ranch" and "Archwalk"

  1. Today, for the first time, I critiqued the images before I read the critique. That helped me to see things I don’t normally see.

    I first thought “What a beautiful place to paint plein aire! Next, I fussed over the lack of variations in the greens but didn’t know why.

    After reading the critique, I know why and will use this information in future paintings. I’ve avoided using tube greens, also, but didn’t know why I always mix them with some other color. This is the second time this week I’ve heard an artist say that they don’t use tube greens.

    Thank you for submitting, your beautiful work, artist. Thank you for an insightful, and educational critique, Collin Callahan. I’ll go visit your site to see your own work.