Lessons Learned in Art — a Critique of one picture

Over the last 1.5 weeks, I’ve been on vacation at my moms.  Took hundreds of photos and started looking at how those pictures could be converted into drawings from different media.  One picture in particular shows my dog Elle and a tree that I tried to turn into an oil pastel impressionist picture.  While I learned a lot in the process, the picture was not entirely successfully.  A self-critique of the picture is included at the bottom of this post.  Would love to also get some other peoples comments on what went wrong and how to make it better.

First, I want to describe the process for creating the pictures.  Here’s the original picture which was cropped to show a small portion of the scene.

2012-12-30 08.39.48

2012-12-30 08.39.48-1

Then did some image processing and like the impressionistic version of this picture.  Thought I could do something like this with oil pastels.

2012-12-30 08.39.48-2

The sketch was ok, although the drawing was not as accurate as I want.  That will take some more practice, drawing it 5-10 more times and I might actually get a good strong representation of the true scene.  However the lines were good enough to start the oil pastel process.

2012-12-30 13.49.54

Worked with lots of little dots and grew more unhappy.  Decided to try using linseed oil to melt the oil pastels and create a nice base.  Big mistake, everything started looking blurry.  It did not fix basic problem which was getting the colors and the shapes correct.  The dog is not proportioned correctly.  And the colors don’t work well together.  But worse was the fact that everything went flat when I added the linseed oil.  And now the picture stinks–actually makes me a little sick my stomach.  Linseed oil is not the answer, there has to be something better to use.  What I don’t know, but will have to experiment more.

2013-01-04 16.07.40

Found out that the only tools I have that work on top of oil covered pastels are the oil pastels themselves.  Eventually was able to add back some more color and depth; but am very unhappy with the finished picture.  It looks like a kids crayon drawing and does not show anything clearly.  Colors clash with each other, especially the tree.  The rushes in the top left hand corner are not that bad, but there is no depth there.  The dark hole in the middle looks like a blue lake.  And the tree is hard to recognize as a tree.  The leave colors on the bottom are ok and mix in with the lawn, but still no depth.

2013-01-05 13.52.55

I don’t know how to fix this drawing.  I’ll redo it again and see if it can be done better next time.  And I’ll try using several different types of media, obviously there is a lot I still need to learn about oil pastels.  The smell is horrible, is there any way to get rid of a linseed oil smell.  And Dog needs to be redone, changing the foreshortening.  Somehow the tree needs to get more depth, probably done by changing the shading and darkness from the sides to the middles.  I’m not taking advantage of a gray scale although I’m not sure how to do that using color.

So if someone has any suggestions on what to do next time, I want to hear from you.  Please comment.

  • How could I make the drawing better?
  • How do I remove the smell?
  • What colors should changed?
  • Can you recommend any good books or sources on how to use oil pastels.



Author: Heres to ART not Cockroaches

Welcome to my life. My life as a mom is changing as the kids grow up, leave home, and build their own lives. This gives me a chance to rebuild myself as an artist, develop a spiritual path, and most fun of all, start going out on dates with my husband. Come here the stories about the small things in life that can make one very happy. Dogs running on a beach, great breakfast dates, kids and their adventures, and my own adventures in this wacky life. I'll share some of my progress in learning art while juggling a full time job as an engineer. And best of all, it's a chance for me to practice writing stories while keeping in touch with my kids. I look forward to hearing from you. Comments, thoughts, and invitations to meet for coffee are all welcomed. Enjoy the stories.

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