Oil Critique: "American Grenadier"

One of the most useful aspects of painting workshops is the personalized critiques offered by knowledgeable instructors. Now you can get this advantage anytime through the American Artist Critique Blog. Through this blog, you can get commentary and suggestions on your work by simply e-mailing a high-resolution scan to critique@myamericanartist.com. We'll select the most instructional from the received submissions and send it to an expert artist for advice. Each week, we'll post another critiqued painting or drawing right here.

American Grenadier
oil on board, 8 x 10.

For our first post, artist Dawn Whitelaw comments on American Grenadier, an oil painting submitted by an American Artist reader.


The attention to detail and the stance of the soldier in this painting are very appealing to me. This is work of an artist who is comfortable with the medium and the brushwork is expressive and confident. I would, however, like to see some more roundness in the figure. One simple to way to help accomplish this is to link shadows by softening the edge where two shadows meet. This technique adds volume to the figure. If the shadow on the back of the coat linked more with the shadow on the fence, the bag over the shoulder would come forward. If the shadow of the gun linked more with its cast shadow on the coat, the gun would have more definition.


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 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.


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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.  

3 thoughts on “Oil Critique: "American Grenadier"

  1. I like the painting especially the detail of the boot, clothing and foreground. But something looks a little anatomically wrong with the foreleg and i have never carried a rifle so i may be off with this. but it seems to be a little high or something. But I think the painting is great.

  2. I think you’re right. The left leg is too long, or maybe the right leg is too short. The distance between them isn’t that wide, so they should be about the same length. The boot on the right leg should be about the same height as the the left, and you can see the top of the boot is about right, but the bottom of the boot is half-way down the left boot. Much too short. Unless you meant to make the legs different lengths, then I would fix the boot on the right leg. Otherwise, I like the painting, the color and for an 8×10 it’s very detailed.

  3. I have to agree , there is a porportion problem. The arm is too short from the shoulder to the elbow. The forearm is too long and the hand is too large.Also, the right hand is too large.
    Now, just to satisfy my own curiosity, I copied this and using my software program, I proved that I was right.
    To further exemplify my view, note the size of the face and measure the length of the hands…hands are about teh lenght of the face.Also, do the measurements of the arms.
    However, that being said, this artist has nice command of the medium.
    I’d like to see the changes made because this is a nice, compelling image.