I've been working for a while on this painting that I'm gonna submit for Exposť 4. It's based on a painting I did back in 2002, and I've done it to measure how far I've gone since then. You can see the old one here:
As you can see there isn't much story told in that one, so I wanted to try and change that in the new version. I started out in painter and slowly moved over to photoshop to take advantage of the custom brushes I have there.
Heres a little "step by step" showing how the painting has changed since the first version:
Your second painting is definitely much improved from the first, but there are still a some problems that you need to work out.
For one, my eye is imediately drawn to the girl in the center, climbing up the pillar. Her character isn't doing much, is not very interesting, is not atomically correct, and is flat. She is obviously not meant to be the focus of the painting.
The girl in the center bottom portion (I assume is the archangel), is more interesting and you probably intended her to be the focus, but I keep getting caught up in the two characters at the top. If you move the pillar farther away, or make the girl on the pillar much smaller, she'll appear farther away and not draw so much attention. Also, even though the girl climbing the pillar is some sort of super natural being (I guess...) she doesn't look like she's in anyway engaged in a fight with the angel above her. There's no stress on her face, she's not clinging to the pillar (how is she staying up there without wings?), she's not even clutching with her knees.
Who is the secondary character on the bottom? She's not really doing anything except awkwardly hugging the archangel... She;s not really surving any purpose to the painting except looking awkward. You need to do something more to let us know who that person is if you are going to tell a story. Also, noone stands with a back arched quite so much as that. It looks like you used playboy for a photo ref or something. Soften her stance, curve her back the other direction (she looks like she's trying to pull the archangel to the right, so make it look like she's actually trying to pull her).
Some of the elements of the painting are kinda random. I'm sure they are important to telling your story, but you need to place them in more believable places. The one I'm thinking of is the goblet on the bottom right. This composition kinda reminds me of the American Harry Potter book covers, except with more empty spaces.
Speaking of empty spaces, you need to do more to get rid of the dead space and make the composition more interesting (see first comment about the angel climbing the pillar).
Ok, here goes. I know I'm new here, but I've read that this forum is about critique. So, I will offer mine.
Your work shows a huge amount of dedication, hard work, and enthusiasm; in essence, passion. It's probably safe to say you love doing this and couldn't live without it. Those are wonderful qualities and make part of the foundation for a true artist. Who ever said this was easy? No one I know.
That said, if "professional" is the standard on this forum, the work is both compositionally and anatomically weak. This is GRAND SCALE work and is very difficult to pull off. Ask Michelangelo. The other part of the foundation for a true artist (in addition to the afore-mentioned passion) is knowledge of the fundamentals. My guess is that you have not thoroughly studied design/composition and anatomy, which cripple such attempts at ambitious work like this. I may get cut off at the knees for that guess... regardless, your obvious passion tells me that you need to, and will, stick with it and master the fundamentals before pursuing such ambitious subjects.
I hope you take this well. Don't take it too hard... but don't fall in love with your work - that's the death of any artist.
Last edited by thraktor; February 24th, 2006 at 11:41 PM.
Ooyaya, thanks a lot for taking the time to write. You've got some very valid points which in its essence I was aware of allready. I feel I'm pretty good technically but lack some training in the basics such as figure drawing, composition and color. I aggree that theres too much unballance in this painting, caused by me not planning the painting better from the start. I tend to just paint and add elements as I go instead of doing more thumbnails and sketches.
Thraktor, glad your honnest, its stuff like this that'll help me improve. Your right that the scale of this thing is grand and maybe beyond my skills for now. I'm glad I did this piece anyways, even thought I'm aware that it lacks in some areas. Been a good practice and made me realize that I need to focus more on the planning and the basics before going on to rendering textures etc.
I've made an alternative version which has a much more basic composition. Like the first one its very symetrical, but for a piece like this I feel its ok since it has an almost symbolical nature.
Don't mind the legs of the lower girl, they're a bit weird and would need some redoing
Last edited by Martinity; February 25th, 2006 at 02:30 PM.
Based on your critique I made another version of the painting without the all but the girl in the middle. I worked some more on the skies as well. Personally I think it makes the painting seem more ballanced.
An alternative crop to get rid of the very centered composition:
Last edited by Martinity; February 25th, 2006 at 02:47 PM.
This definitely works alot better for me. Other people might see differently. You might render this final version completely (clean up the areas that you erased) and then start adding in those other elements that tell the story. Do that carefully, though, and make sure they tell the story well so that other people can "read" your painting. The other elements should also not mess up your base composition, and if they do, make sure you're creating a new composition that can also be read clearly, has a strong focus, and guides the eye logically around the canvas.
I like ambitious people. I say keep working on this piece! Also, do some other paintings at the same time, maybe make them a series... If the story is too complex for you to tell in one painting, divide it into 3.
Many people hate hearing this, but you may want to pay a visit to your local library and check out an art history book. I recommend Art Through The Ages by Kleiner and Mamiya, especially the sections on ancient Greek and Roman, Roman Revivalism, Gothic, and Rennaisance art. That's the book that most intro to art history courses use. Even if you don't actually read it, just looking at the pretty color pictures is good for understanding how these (highly) successfull artists got the story-telling job done.
p.s. Other people might recommend other books... Kleiner was my professor of art history, and he's the greatest man ever, so I'm a little partial
Thanks thraktor. I decided to go away from the buildings after all, might try to bring a city into the painting again. For now I tried another thing inspired by a shape of another citydesign I tried out I realized that it looked like battlecruisers.. so I thought "why not"
I also worked some more on both lava and skies.
Last edited by Martinity; February 26th, 2006 at 12:16 AM.
The lighter clouds on the right is an improvement, and somehow, despite all logic, I really dig the battleships. It adds another level of action, implying grand forces at work. The devil's Navy? Will they sail against the heavens? Now you're telling a story - I have no idea what that story is, but it's pretty interesting!
I'll tell you what I see. First of all, the battleships were really, really interesting. The ironic reversal of hell's army sailing in lava is pretty sweet and fairly original. I've seen I dunno how many depictions of hell from very very old to contemporary, and I think yours is really interesting.
I also like the idea I'm reading into this that hell is the dominant plane on the horizon line and that angels in heaven are all high up on pillars. That seems like a very secular perspective, with hell on earth (an interpretation also supported by the inclusion of the battle ships) and heaven high up and unattainable...
The one element I'm getting some confused readings on is the chained angel on the rock. I get that she's hell's prisoner. Whats confusing me, I guess, is my own stores of religious information I keep in my mind which form the point of view I have. For instance, all devils, technically, are angels convicted of treason a long time ago and condemned (or kept prisoner) in hell by God. But another read could be that she's some new POW taken from heaven by the forces of hell in their new war (again, supported by the battleships, which again I love.)
If she is a new POW in hell, you might want to give us a few more visual clues as to her true side in this war. She's got the halo and she's chained up, but her clothes are quite dark as is her hair. She doesnt look out of place, which is why I wonder if she's a prisoner condemned by god or taken in a time of war by hell.
Thraktor: Glad you like it, I think the version with the battleships is my favorite as well. It adds an extra layer to the story in the painting. Actually the ships started out as some strange kind of industrial structure in the background, but rather quickly I saw that it looked like battleships.
Jason: Thanks, yeah I know. I usually try to use ref as much as possible but actually didn't for this one. I'll see if I can find some good ref for the girls pose and improve on that.
Neorepto: Glad to hear you dig the cruisers. I agree that I've moved a bit away from cliche hell with that version. As you point out the weak element in the painting is the girl. I'm still not very good of showing emotions in my characters, they all tend to be a bit stiff. Since she still has her halo I guess we can asume she's still good, so that rules out the treason. I imagine she's been taken prisoner by the forces of hell, and is being used to fuel the power of the pillars that protect hells shores.. or something Good critique!
Nokill: Thanks, yeah the figure could use some more work.