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    Phil BrinkPhil Brink

      Title: Ganesha
      Year Created: 2018
      Medium: Oil
      Surface: AlumaComb (self-primed)
      Dimension: 12×16 in
      Allow digital alterations?: Yes (if needed)

      This was created for my fiancée’s parents as a gift at the coming wedding.

      Please note that the swastika is an ancient Hindu blessing and not what the west things it is because of improper use. There are a lot of Hindu and Sikh symbols in the picture. If curious about what they are, send me a message (there are too many to list in this post). Overall, the combination focuses on prosperity and finding peace within oneself.

      The main design is a religious icon of Ganesha, as it will likely be used in their household shrine. I was hoping to combine the mid renaissance style, religious icons and coloration common to India. Though, I know little about art history, so who knows if it’s even close. The painting was done with a grayscale grisaille and glazed.

      here’s the WIP link if interested or will help with the critique

      I’m not looking for a ‘good job’, just honest thoughts so I can keep learning and improve.

      1. I suppose, my key question is simply ‘is this worth getting prints made?’ I have been told by a few individuals I know that it is a very good painting, but friends are generally forgiving on their opinions.

      2. From a technical aspect, is it any good? It’s only my 4th glazing attempt and probably my 25th painting, of which, most are scenery. So, I honestly don’t know. I never took painting classes, just a 25 year half-hearted journey to make drawings and paintings look right. It is stuff I picked up from trying things as experiments and reading what other people did.

      3. As a composition, did I achieve anything worth noting?

      Those who crumble, cannot rebuild themselves.


      First, I like the painting. (But then, I’m a fan of Ganesh.)

      But, there are some problems, IMO.

      I don’t like the at the top right, and left, above Gonesh’ head. The black is too harsh, and doesn’t fit the environment. The text doesn’t look carved, or painted, onto the “wall” behind Ganesh; it just looks superimposed. (Solid black does that; it often separates–visually–from the surrounding imagery.)

      I really like the “relief” shapes in the back of the chair–BUT, it looks more three-dimensional (because it is higher contrast) than Ganesh. A problem, because this is the middle ground, and Ganesh is in the foreground. Areas of high-contrast advance, so either reduce the contrast in the relief (drapery, upholstery?), or increase the contrast on Ganesh.

      Last, the “architecture” above Ganesh (the way the columns merge with the ceiling) is nice: interesting, without being distracting.

      The way the architecture merges into the floor, is far less so. There, things look stylized, unrealistic, and poorly designed.

      All that aside, yes, I think this is an image worth printing. I think it is a good painting that–with a few minor changes–could be a very good painting.

      Best wishes!

      Forcing the waveform to collapse for two decades...
      Hilliard Gallery, Kansas City, "Small Works", December 2019

      Phil BrinkPhil Brink

        I had forgotten I made this post. I’m glad it hasn’t gone unnoticed.

        I was never happy with the structure meeting with the floor. I worked on it repeatedly to try and remove the flatness and make it interesting and never managed to correct it. Mostly, it was the underpainting that formed the shape and it became uncorrectable by the time I realized how bad the idea was while adding glaze to these areas.

        Looking at it now, I probably should have angled the side portions of the platform to give its some depth and leave the flatten section in the middle while bringing it out a little further in 3d space. Something to think about if I ever attempt a painting like this again.

        The chair back was intended to just fill empty space with something interesting, but not too distracting. The swirl patterns are things I had seen in Indian art, so I went with them. I think the problem with them is the flatness of the areas between the swirls. The dark brown shift into the lighter areas needed to be more subtle. The attempt was there, but did not go far enough, mostly because the underpainting was controlling the change more than the top layers. It was my third attempt at an underpainting and first time with the style I used. So, it was an experiment that could have been better.

        The lettering was intentional. I wanted them to have more focus due to the meaning of the words selected. They are from two different religious traditions in India (Hindu and Sikh), but have similar fundamental concepts which I used to draw unity between the traditions.

        The original idea for the wall was much flatter. It was going to be the orange as a layer under a complete fill of red. So, the lettering would have set more into the wall at that point. The fade was a happy accident I discovered as I was finger painting in the red (only way to get the strokes smooth enough without the medium eating into the orange and have an uneven clumpy coverage that makes it feel more interesting.)

        The color selection of Ganesha was important for the symbolism of the painting. As a result, the contrast you mention is limited to maintain the appearance of white. To get the correct visual effect, I had to use a purple as shading to kill the colors surrounding the skin areas. The effect appears gray, but it is purple. So, adding more would kill this effect and change the tone to an incorrect symbology.

        The area that drives me almost as nutty as the lower platform is the necklace. Too much yellow which should be a highlight like in the bowls and bracelets. The scale was difficult for me to keep accurate in brush strokes (that area was about 2.5mm wide) Glazing that was difficult for me to maintain. Once it was off a bit, it was going to take removing more than the necklace glazes to correct it. So, I got lazy and left it.

        Oddly enough, in 3d space, the plane of the stage area meeting the floor is realistic. This is pretty much how every stage looks. Its probably why so many prefer a fabric skirting to make it interesting. In a painting, it looks odd I think because we naturally ignore it in real life, but in a painting it just feels wrong. There may be some natural curvature due to perspective we see that I missed. This is a failing I probably should work on in future paintings.

        I think I got to everything you mentioned. It was very helpful to get me thinking about the painting again.

        Those who crumble, cannot rebuild themselves.


          This is indeed the problem with critique someone’s work as when finished like this what can you say it is like saying change a hedgehog into a rabbit with a few brush strokes here and there…I am not dissing your work your work is good it has much detail and has been carefully executed but seeing from your own comment you obviously know what you need to do and to be honest the worst thing is when someone don’t know that like when someone sing out of tune and ask where they go wrong as they just don’t know they think they are already great ! You already have a clue about getting the spatial planes to divide by use of colour etc etc etc . The only point I could add which may be of use to you in fact is concerning your structure that you want more not to look so flat or whatever, is look for example at baroque architecture think of the ones where they have they large pillars that are on the platform after going up the steps etc..the shape of them was intentional to give some more dynamic look ie that the structure rose from ground and dissolved back etc…due to there shape .

          Sculpture is what you bump into when you back up to see a painting..Barnett Newman


          ”Art is never finished, only abandoned”. Leonardo da Vinci.

          Forcing the waveform to collapse for two decades...
          Hilliard Gallery, Kansas City, "Small Works", December 2019

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