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Young Artists

Often young artists will ask me to critique their work.  I enjoy doing so and try to use the critique to teach them some things about art that they might not know.  Every once in a while an artist comes by with an outstanding work of art.

Such an amazing painting landed in my inbox last week by a fellow collaborator.  He asked me to critique it, but I could find little wrong with it.  So I critiqued the little there to fuss about, and asked if I could post both his artwork and my critique.  It's a great example of where I hope all my artistic friends will be in the future!

For finished piece click here!

First of all, let me commend you on your draftsmanship.  Beautiful work.

Ok, I have three levels of art criticism: metaphor, representation, and aesthetics.  Because you aren't really saying anything with this particular piece, we can throw out the first level.  However, I will note that the greatest works of in the history of mankind all had a message or purpose outside of themselves.  So while we do create artwork to better ourselves, we ultimately want to make something meaningful outside of practice or personal achievement.

On the representational level, I have little to criticize.  You have captured the light in space in a believable way.  I love the light falloff of the large earth-like planet.  The detail, color, and value of the land, water, and atmosphere masses are very believably painted.  Also, the larger moon's light falloff, combined with the shadow of the planet is beautiful.

I would have two criticisms.  The first deals with the falloff of the little moon.  Though a little moon would naturally have a smaller falloff, that falloff would be proportionately the same.  Thus the little moon looks more like a round hole in the picture.  If you give it just a little more falloff and a whiter highlight, it should be perfect.

The second issue has to do with gravity and the large moon.  Perhaps it's the placement of the moon, but it can look like the moon is sitting on the surface of the planet.  In fact, with the small moon in the light side, we might wonder if the these orbiters really have that much of an orbit.  Perhaps it's the value and color: the planet being very bright and thus seemingly close to us, and the moon looking darker and more neutral and thus looking farther from us.  Perhaps the large moon just rolls around on the surface.  (Ok, so maybe I'm exaggerating a little now......)  If you created some space atmosphere in between the planet and the moon, pushing the planet back in space and pulling the moon out toward us, that would solve the problem.  Or you could brighten the moon and darken the planet.  Or you could make another orbiter, which is obviously out in space, maybe on the other side of the composition.  Or you could introduce rings to the planet in such a way as to show that they have distance from the planet.  Or you can try to do all of the above.  Just be sure that you save a layered version of this picture, and be subtle with your spatial enhancing techniques, whatever you do.

On the aesthetic level, again I have little to criticize.  The color is very good, beautiful in fact.  Your use of value is stunning.  Compositionally, this is very strong.  You have placed your planet/moon cluster at about the 2/3 or 3/5 section of the painting.  Your bright blue star balances the composition nicely.

Since the critique, Dieki implemented my suggestions.  You can see his finished piece here.

Not all of the artists I critique are as skilled as Dieki, but I enjoy critiquing them, all the same.  If you want to share one of your paintings or sketches or get input on them, be sure to email me!  Happy painting!

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