View Full Version : Arizona Remains

06-22-2015, 01:41 PM
Title: Arizona Remains
Year Created:
Medium: Acrylic
Surface: Canvas
Dimension: 38 x 38
Allow digital alterations?: Yes!

I want to enter this into a Arizona themed art show. This is the first juried show I've ever thought about entering, and one of the first times I'll be able to show my work publicly if picked to be included. I'd really, really appreciate a good critique so that I can present something to be proud of. Thank you!

Any and all. I'm told I sometimes over do it. And do the colors look right and cohesive.

06-22-2015, 06:40 PM
Very nice painting. There are horizontal beams at the front but the perspective seems a bit out. Maybe they were like that but it is best to make them go to the vanishing point. Best of luck with the show.

06-22-2015, 07:29 PM
Thank you, EnPassant. I'm trying to figure out which beams your'e referring to. I sometimes struggle with getting the perspective right, so I'm not surprised if something looks a little whacky, but pinpointing where I've went wrong can be challenging to me.

Mark Szymanski
06-22-2015, 07:30 PM
I think there is a lot which is quite good in this painting. The color through most of it is unified and interesting. Great subject with a lot of feeling placed within the brushwork. It is bold and works with the textures of most of the surfaces. Aerial perspective more or less works, distant structures are softer and less defined as well as desaturated color. Color on the cabin is kaleidoscopic and candy colored, but it works okay because of the low chroma colors in the background. Perhaps you've bent perspective a bit, but not so much anything is really too warped to accept. There is a lot of motion in the background due to the brushwork, but it gives the impression of either wind on the slopes, or the shimmer of the atmospheric heating, so I think it is nice because it gives life to the background.

If I were to critique the painting, the biggest thing I see is the composition. The subject is taking over half the painting area, and this is causing the background to be compressed into a small section. Because of this, I feel the balance is off to the painting.


When I place a cross hair on the painting, I see some issues with balance. The main dark is on the left side of the painting with the side of the building the tree trunk and the ground. Even though the ground is highly saturated, it is of a low value so it creates a large shape with the dark, but I digress. The peak of the cabin is just off center, so the majority of the cabin lies within one half, but porch reaches out and across to the 3/4ths mark. This creates some problems with balancing the left and right half. The other issue with the porch is that bright white reflection? on the wall of the cabin. My mind says it should be darker because of the angle of the sun. The cabin weighs too much and the background does not weigh enough to balance the left and the right. The left weighs much more than the right and so feels quite unbalance. Perhaps if the right side of the porch had collapsed so it lay in shambles and thus stayed near the side of the cabin, you might have enough area remaining to balance the left side of the picture. Empty space has a weight all its own, though I suspect you'd still need some small item to create balance... maybe some trees or antelope or something.

Two other areas aren't descriptive enough for me. The sand in the foreground is too dark to be in the sun, and the blue water? has no information within it. There is an aloe plant (I think its an aloe) in the foreground with blue underneath, yet no reflection. There is no darker line where the sand absorbs some water making it darker. Is it water? I don't know. There is red along the front of the porch which is treated like reflection, yet I see nothing to reflect those colors. The armadillo? by the porch seems a bit misplaced. The brush strokes behind the armadillo seem random rather than placed on purpose.


Your values are all clustered around this middle value. If you look at the painting, the brightest spots are on the porch and on the hill. Perhaps lightening the sky will help to give some sunshine to it.

A smaller matter perhaps, but I think I'll mention it anyway.


The curve of the hill is taking the eye right out of the painting and stealing the weight of the to a point outside the painting. The curves radians are coming to a center outside of the painting, so that wonderful curve isn't focusing on your subject, but somewhere not even implied by the subject.

Just some random thoughts, take or leave them as you will.:angel: Keep up the good work and good luck!

Mark Szymanski
06-22-2015, 07:40 PM
If I might jump on EnPassant's post... I believe he is referring to your creative perspective on the porch...(and elsewhere, but the porch jumps out at you a bit)


None of the perspective lines on the porch seem to agree where the horizon is. If it was falling apart, the perspective lines will then warp around a bit, but mostly will pair up to a point located out of the picture. The deck of the porch appears to be a trapezoidal shape rather than a rectangle in perspective.

The three green lines agree more or less, but the orange line of the front of the porch is now angling in quite a bit and doesn't work with the horizon. The bottom of the window frames and the railing on the porch should all be related to a point on the horizon, or nearly so, depending upon its current state of disrepair, but as you can see they don't agree.

06-22-2015, 09:48 PM
I like this scene. For me the issue is who's the star? I like the cabin but the color in the foreground is vying for attention. So I would darken and dull some of that color and also repeat a wash of some orange on that green hill, but kill that red in the far distance. It's just too red to be that far away. Good luck with the show. Hope this helps. With Marks eye on perspective and mine on collah maybe we can get you in to that show.

06-22-2015, 10:36 PM
Omgosh! Thank you guys! Finally some place that really gives critiques. I'm going to rework it a bit, and will re-post in a couple of days.

Mark Szymanski, thank you so much for taking that time to really show me where I'd gone wrong. You have no idea how much I appreciate that.

06-23-2015, 07:34 AM
After all that is said and done... its a nice setting and can be over worked for improvement.

06-25-2015, 07:53 PM
Well, I totally reworked it, and then it looked boring, then I reworked it again, and wacked things back up because, I just have weird eyes, and wanted it warped. I'm not sure it's better, worse or just different, but I know I'm pretty much sick of working on it now! :)

06-25-2015, 08:40 PM
well I do what you did. I CHARGE and usually only needed a few gentle tweaks, like yours did.

Mark Szymanski
06-25-2015, 10:24 PM
Very Nice! I like this rework!

06-28-2015, 03:50 AM
I liked the first painting, despite the perspective problems.
It seems more spontaneous, lively, and honest.
But this is a totally subjective opinion which I could not

For me, your biggest identifiable weakness is that your level of texture
is not consistent. An example is in the second painting.
The cacti to the left of the house have much less texture
than the house. Or, in the first painting, the hill behind the
house looks like green fog. This is a little jarring to me, and
it impedes, IMHO, your ability to convey an artistic message.

As you may have guessed, in general I dislike modern/abstract
art. I think "respect reality first, then go for artistic endeavor".

BTW, if anyone complains about the perspective in the first painting,
just tell them that corner of the porch has sunk into the ground.
This would be a natural event, considering the proximity of the lake
and associated mud.

06-29-2015, 12:43 PM
Thanks Mark :)

Thank you also, hward, for your input. Actually the first is long gone now! I agree about the spontaneity being gone, and it did actually more follow the reference photo in the first one-- it really was pretty wonky. But I feared that wasn't coming across correctly. I've since continued to tweak, and now think I like the reworked copy as well, though I wish it felt more, hmmm, fresh, but oh well, it is what it is. Here's how it is now, if at this point anyone cares... LOL!

07-03-2015, 08:17 AM
I've been following along and like the changes you've made. MUCH better perspecive now.

The bend in the right hand tree bothers me. I suggest leaving it in, but add a main trunk that grows straight up.
I'd also like few highlights on the goat? like you had it previously.

07-03-2015, 01:19 PM
Thank you for your input, gouligann! :)

And Mark, I soooo hope I didn't sound ungrateful for your help. Its really hard to find someone that will actually take the time, to give real and helpful tips. Plus, I think it helped a LOT, and will have an impact on my next works. As artists, sometimes we need to take chances and change things up otherwise, we'd never improve.