View Full Version : Lana's Manatee

10-12-2007, 05:54 PM

Title: Lana's Manatee
Year Created: 2007
Medium: Watercolor
Surface: Paper
Dimension: 10 x 13
Allow digital alterations?: Yes!

Okay, taking a deep breath as I submit my first painting for critique. Please keep in mind that I just started painting with watercolor in late August or Early September and this is my 7th painting to date.<br><br>The photo that inspired this painting was very gray and green, very dull color's so I have added some light play and color to it.<br><br>The imperfections that I see are the rays of light shining through the water, they tend to bend below the manatee, and I carried them to far upward because the light source should only shine one direction.<br><br>Some of the lines in the manatee himself seem too hard, he is not as lifelike as I would like.<br><br>

I would love your input on how I can improve.<br><br>

10-12-2007, 06:18 PM
Composition is too crowded. Needs some space on at least two sides. The manatee itself looks like you started off with a foreshortened oblique view and then committed to a lateral, broadside view, resulting in an animal that's not proportioned properly. The curved down tail looks like an accommodation for running out of room in the bottom left corner.

That being said, I love the palette you've chosen. I can live with the bent shafts of light in the water, but I question the bubbles around the flipper. Why would a submerged animal generate bubbles anywhere but near its muzzle?

I also like the suggestion of the myriad propeller slashes on its back. These creatures are routinely injured by props, jet skis, water skis, etc., although some of the markings on their backs are from natural causes.

Really nice control over your watercolors, though. My crits are minor, don't take them wrong. It's a gentle picture of an animal that deserves a gentle world to live in.

10-12-2007, 07:07 PM
Thank you, and your absolutely right. The photo from the manatee website was very close like the painting, but as soon as I started painting it felt like he was too far forward. Should have went with my gut and moved him back.

You have a great eye for detail and I appreciate all of your input. Your right on the tail, it was turned a little differently, but was still cut off on the photo. I don't think the tail is shaded right to show the angle, it was very dark in the picture.

The bubbles, I think I was trying to imagine what a large mammel like that would look like as it moved and thought their might be bubbles, like there are when I swim. But the manatee probably does do a lot of just floating around, not a lot of movement.

The painting is for a friend that loves manatee's, and supports their cause as an endangered species.

Thanks again for your suggestions.

10-13-2007, 03:52 PM
All good observations by Slurps, despite the proportional problems it is a very cute manatee. One suggestion, try to avoid black as a shadow color as shadows are generally a gradation to darker tones of what is in shadow rather than an entity unto itself.
I look forward to seeing more!!!

10-13-2007, 04:43 PM
Thanks for painting this, and thanks to your friend for supporting protection of these wonderful creatures. When I used to scuba dive in Florida in fresh water, we used to pray we'd get an opportunity to see a manatee. It's easy to forget to check your air supply when you see a couple manatees dozing in the clear water or grazing on vegetation. I could watch them for hours, even when all they're doing is taking a short nap underwater.
I guess you can look for a metaphor if you want, but to me they're beautiful, no matter that they're kind of chubby and oddly shaped. You're friend is lucky to have you as a friend! What a great gift this picture is.

10-13-2007, 08:33 PM
awww, he's gorgeous, a pudgy little baby manatee : )

just a thought, but since it is on paper, and definitely crowded into a little box, what say you mount him on a larger piece of paper, let it be a 6 inch matt around the edges of the existing paper, and frame that ... you could paint or leave that edge raw ... ? i think the rough edge of the paper he's on wouldn't be a bad thing when mounted on more paper ... or a large white or off white or blue matt, nice and wide ... it would let him have some needed space around him.

Also, I've seen watercolors with just matts instead of frames, held in plastic for protection ... displays nicely and works well for fundraisers ... esp. if you need a $ saver idea ... most public are okay with framing their own bought works anyway, in fact i've had My frames get tossed and replaced with Publics ideas of what's better/diff color/style/whatever.


10-13-2007, 10:48 PM

I will definately remember no black next time. I'm going to make a few changes to the painting, may see if I can use some shades of brown, if it will cover the black. Taking the bubbles out too. I need to changed the shading in the tail, so that it changes the angle of the tail more.

Thank you for your input, I really appreciate it!


10-13-2007, 10:50 PM

They are wonderful creatures, as is my friend! You were very blessed to have been able to swim with them, that must have been magical. I've been snorkeling once and loved it, but only saw small colorful fish.

Thank you,


10-13-2007, 10:55 PM

That's a great idea, I planned on finding a larger frame, but I think your right on the size, it should be a lot larger. I think that just might fix the fact that he takes up the whole picture! Thank you!

I think white might work, but if not I will paint it.

I need to find a good resource, that isn't too expensive for larger frames and mats.

Thank you very much, all of you have been very helpful! I looked at the website of those of you that have them linked and really enjoyed your artwork!