Welcome to the final lesson of the Painting the Landscape workshop.
In the last lesson, I showed you how my painting turned out. I’ll title it, Maleny, White, Purple, and Blue Flowers. Now it’s time to reflect on my work.
Whenever I finish a painting, I briefly reflect on how it turned out, what went well, and what I could improve for next time. I do this in my head, but for demonstration purposes, I’ll document my thoughts in a more structured format.
My self-reflection process involves three questions:
Am I happy with the painting? This is a high-level question that summarizes my general thoughts about the painting. The answer is typically a straightforward “yes”, “no”, or “it’s OK”.
What went well? I consider what I particularly like about the painting or things that I did well during the painting process. This might include good use of technique, solving a difficult problem, fixing a mistake, or conveying the subject in a creative way.
What could be improved? Even my best paintings have aspects that could be improved. Few people could say otherwise, unless your name happens to be Joaquín Sorolla or Diego Velázquez. The challenge is correctly identifying those weak aspects. If you’re new to painting, you’ll struggle with this. You might know something is wrong with the painting but be unable to narrow down on the real issue. But it’s important to try. Start with broad categories. Does the issue relate to value, composition, edge, shape, color, drawing, etc? Then narrow it down from there.
Bonus download: Artwork Self-Critique Worksheet.
For this process to be effective, you must remove any sense of ego. This is no time to be arrogant or humble. Just say it as it is. Be objective. If you’re struggling with this, pretend your painting was done by another artist and take yourself out of the equation.
Also, be careful about comparing yourself to others. I mostly reflect on my work in relation to my previous work. I’m not looking to create the best painting in the world; I just want this painting to be a bit better than the last.
I only use comparison as a way to visualize what I’m aiming for in painting. My favorite artists represent the upper echelon of painting. They show me what’s possible and they give me something to shoot for. I may never join them or surpass them, but that’s OK. The joy is in trying and improving.
Anyway, the following is my self-reflection.
Am I Happy With the Painting?
Yes. It looks fresh and painterly, yet realistic. And most importantly, it reminds me of that overcast day in Maleny with my family.
What Went Well?
- The brushwork and colors I used for the sloping land are spot on.
- The impasto brushwork and broken color I used for the feature plant draw focus to the area and create the illusion of detail and activity.
- The trees in the background appear realistic without drawing too much attention. Not easy to do!
What Could Be Improved?
- The sky could be a touch lighter. I also could have used more variance in terms of color. The sky was an opportunity to use subtle shifts in temperature and value to create interest and depth.
- The intricate branches at the top are a bit sloppy. I should have used a finer brush and been more delicate with my technique.
- I reworked the feature plant and foreground too much. Reworking usually means I’m unsure of my next steps and I’m trying to guess my way through the painting. The less reworking I do, the better.
Reflect on your work. Are you happy with the painting? What went well? What could be improved? You can use the Artwork Self-Critique Worksheet.
Thanks so much for joining me in this workshop! Hope you learned something new. I’ll send you an email tomorrow to wrap things up.
Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below. And if you end up painting from my reference photo, send us a photo to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to see how it turns out.
Draw Paint Academy
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