I better start teaching or this class will get out of hand. Great to see all the interest and participation. Lets take a look at the first round of assignments.
Here is everyones work and the B&W reference in one shot.
I am going to deal with 2 issues: value and technique. I will let you self critique your drawing accuracy.
Value: I have taught a lot of classes and I find that one of the more difficult things is to get the contrast that is actually represented in the subject. People will often paint everything too dark or too light. In either case you have a lack of contrast. This is where squinting really helps. It will help you see the relationships of value over the entire subject not just one localized area.
Next to drawing (which is essentially learning to see and draw shapes), seeing values is the next most important skill the realist painter needs. Light hitting an object and the objects shadow is how we experience our world on a daily basis. So if you learn to see and communicate values in your painting, you are making it believable.
I think a big problem artist have is we pre-judge the entire piece with each brush stroke. With every brush stoke you put down you have just created a relationship of value and color to the rest of the canvas. The artist judges the entire work based on the first few strokes and says "that doesn't look good" and they re work it and in the process lessen the contrast. They proceed through the entire painting like this and end up with a painting that is too light or too dark.
When you identify an area and lay down that dark or light value, you have to trust that it will make the object look real in the end. The painting should not look all that great until you have established all of the value relationships on the entire canvas.
Now look at your work in just B&W values. You should be able to see identify where you need adjustment.
To further help here is the reference with a gray scale overlay. I have identified some of the areas with the value from the scale. I have made this scale in PhotoShop and printed it out. I have holes punched out like you see here so I can lay it over a photo to help identify values. I also have the same scale under my glass palette so I can the colors I mix right on top of it. You can buy scales similar to this if you don't have the necessary tools to make one.
So with this info, rework your painting as you see fit.
FYI this is a separate painting from the next assignment that will be done in color. So when you paint in color you will have this piece as a value study to look at.
I also want to commend everyone for their hard work. Painting is hard to learn but it is not out of reach for anyone who is willing to stick with it. I honestly believe that it is just a matter of learning to improve one simple step at a time. If you can draw a stick figure and see some way to improve it then you can just keep making improvements and learning more day after day and then year after year, you can get somewhere. Just learn to have fun at every stage or you will get discouraged.
I will write a separate post about technique later today.