View Full Version : Critique my paintings!

08-29-2001, 05:00 PM
I've recently re-taken up painting in acrylics, and just started with expressionist work, so I'd like your opinion on some of my paintings. They're here:

Le Vaisseau d'or (http://www.crosswinds.net/~montrealais/art/painting/vaisseau.html)
To Allos Angelos (http://www.crosswinds.net/~montrealais/art/painting/angel.html)

The first one, "Le Vaisseau d'or" (The Ship of Gold), is an interpretation of a poem by the Quebecois poet Emile Nelligan, of which an English translation can be found at http://www.crosswinds.net/~montreal...shipofgold.html . It can be interpreted as representing the Canadian political situation: the ship of gold, filled with beautiful treasures, is lost because the three sailors (the three founding peoples?) cannot stop arguing over how to divide it up.

The second one, "To Allos Angelos" (The Other Angel), represents a questioning of ideologies. The wings, which represent the figure's sentience and human spirit, are not white; they're part black (representing the acceptance of the darker, but still valid part of human experience) and part rainbow-coloured, representing both the diversity of experience that can be lost through focusing on an ideology and the need for gay people to create new ways of thinking and leading our lives rather than adapting ourselves to structures unsuited to us. The staff is one of two tools associated with the masculine God in Wiccan magickal practice, but it is used instead of the sword in order to emphasize a masculinity that is in harmony with the Earth (whose flora and fauna are represented by the red and green ribbons); it's a tool used by a human for support when passing along the earth, rather than to hack one's way through. (If you're curious, the model is a very sweet and beautiful math professor from Massachusetts with whom I shared a wonderful week here earlier this summer.)

Opinions? Advice?

08-29-2001, 05:02 PM
Sorry: the translation "The Ship of Gold" is at http://www.crosswinds.net/~montrealais/art/translation/shipofgold.html

08-29-2001, 05:15 PM
Hi Matt - nice work, although I wish you hadn't done so much explaining of the meaning up front and let the visual speak for itself.

08-29-2001, 07:53 PM
Speaking as a professional artist with a BFA in painting, I recommend you work on your color mixing. Your fleshtones are too flat, it looks like you used a tube of paint marked "flesh color." Mix it yourself. I recommend you look at the paintings of John Singer Sargent. Look closely at his fleshtones. They are never one flat color, there are always areas of blue, yellow, reddish tones, etc.

Spavined Gelding
08-30-2001, 12:48 AM
Iím with Chas. E., you are taking your colors straight out of the tubes. I know getting any subtlety with acrylics can be a tough proposition but with a little thought it can be done. If you are going for a flat two-dimensional effect, you got it. If you arenít, back to the colors.

08-30-2001, 02:32 AM
Actually, the only colours I was working with were red, yellow, green, blue, brown, tan, white, grey, and black; I mixed all the colours myself. But I see what you mean. Photorealism's not really what I'm aiming for, but it would be nice to be a little more convincing in that regard. I'm pretty good with shading when I'm working in graphite.

Anyway, my latest (half-finished) painting "Exile and Asylum" does a little better in that respect, I think. I'll put up a picture of it when it's done.

Thanks for the critiques.

08-30-2001, 08:24 AM
I'm not an art maven or expert by any means, but I know what I would hang on my walls. :D

The first one, I liked. Even though it isn't an abstract, the whole feel of the thing was sort of Kandinsky-ish, and the figures in the boat look like little Keith Haring people.

08-30-2001, 02:21 PM
Originally posted by matt_mcl
Photorealism's not really what I'm aiming for, but it would be nice to be a little more convincing in that regard. I'm pretty good with shading when I'm working in graphite.

Try to think of it imaginary realism, rather than photo-realism. You're not trying to fool anyone, but the effort to present the subject as truly existing within its own space will add integrity to the subject. Strive for a kind of naturalism that's internal to the painting. As your paintings stand now, they feel like diagrams, which robs them of a lot of the impact I think you're looking for.

08-30-2001, 02:27 PM
Originally posted by matt_mcl

Opinions? Advice?

In the future give us a chance to interpret it for ourselves. I find it interesting for people to interpret the art for themselves and then find out what the artist was trying to say. And I have to admit I like looking at a painting and finding something I can recognize.


Spavined Gelding
08-30-2001, 03:55 PM
If you are serious about this and you are not just painting for your own amusement, remember there is always one universally recognized and acceptable response to criticism, even invited criticism. That response, in three words, is: Oh, bite me.

I've used it often.

08-30-2001, 07:20 PM
You might endeavour to make your titles and subjects less pretentious?

(I'm not biting anything for anyone!)

08-30-2001, 10:45 PM
I don't think they're pretentious. They're just what I meant. What would you have me entitle them?

08-31-2001, 12:08 AM
Originally posted by matt_mcl
I don't think they're pretentious. They're just what I meant. What would you have me entitle them?

How about Angels in the Outfield?


08-31-2001, 12:42 AM
I liked them overall. I think you have a good feel for the paintbrush.

I agree with the color thing. Whether your paintings are completely abstract, impressionist, or realistic, color is a huge element.

The one thing that stood out for me was that there was a yellow steak or line, but no yellow anywhere else. Yellow is a VERY strong color, and really sticks out. If the sole yellow element is symbolic of something, and you want it to jump out, you have succeeded. But I am not sure that it is. I wanted to see some "touch" of yellow somewhere else, I guess. I always have "planned" my paintings around what the color "theme" or color "scheme" will be - color is just that important.

I studied color a lot at school, and I think it is fascinating. I especially loved the color books of Faber Birren. I don't know if you have studied much color, or are interested in books about it. But if you are, Birren is good, and also Itten.

08-31-2001, 03:01 AM
Well, I'll be honest. I really don't like the second one. I'm not an art critic/major/afficionado so do with my critique what you will, it just didn't suit me.

I really did like your first one though. Despite no facial features at all, I could tell the horror that they're feeling. Cool poem too.
So where's the mermaid in your painting?

08-31-2001, 03:29 AM
I've tried to take a look at your work several times but the pictures refuse to load.

I'll keep trying...

09-01-2001, 12:18 AM
Since you ask, I would have called them "Bootylicious" and "An Evening at 'The Bay'".

09-01-2001, 12:43 AM
I appreciate getting the opportunity to look at them. You get points for your bravery.

Second the notion of letting us figure it out first. Paintings don't tend to come with manifestos. If we can't figure it out from the painting, then either the source of the symbols are not known to us (and I admit I didn't know any of the ones in your paintings), or something may be lost in the translation from your idea to the canvas.

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