Watercolor Critique: "Mountain"

by 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 that colors get cooler as they recede in space and warmer as they advance. A third improvement would be to vary the intensities of the colors; they should be less intense in the background and more intense in the foreground.

Most likely this painting was done from a photograph, which tends to flatten images. If we paint what we know to be true in addition to what we see, we’ll get a better painting!

About the Critic
Joyce Washor
graduated from Rutgers University, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and also studied at the Woodstock School of Art, in Woodstock, New York. The author of Big Art, Small Canvas (North Light Books, Cincinnati, Ohio), Washor teaches at the Scottsdale Artists' School, in Arizona, and at the Woodstock School of Art. She is represented by Horizon Fine Art, in Jackson Hole, Wyoming; The Crane Collection, in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts; and The Lawrence Gallery, in Scottsdale, Arizona. For more information, visit www.joycewashor.com and http://joycewashorsdailypaintings.blogspot.com.

Interested in learning more from our critic? Joyce Washor will be teaching an oil still life workshop titled “Big Art, Small Canvas,” May 19 to 22, 2010 at the Santa Fe School of Art, in New Mexico. More information is available on her website, www.joycewashor.com, or call (505) 989-7311.


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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 “Watercolor Critique: "Mountain"

  1. “…Second, the artist can vary the temperatures of the blues and browns, keeping in mind that colors get cooler as they recede in space and warmer as they advance…”

    True, yet there is the odd exception to this general guideline. According to what I was taught, snow generally tends to go from cooler in the foreground to a touch warmer as is recedes into the background.

  2. While I agree with the assessment that varying temperatures and edge definition would be helpful, I am drawn to the abstract nature of this painting. The textural qualities are very nice (I mean nice in a good way, not an indifferent one 😉 ).It is obviously derived from viewing a mountain, but playing with the boundaries between realism/naturalism and abstraction (or at least a certain level of that) may be interesting.