Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Critique Week

Today's post is a critique of a painting by artist Jill deFelice, "Sea Robin."  I asked Jill to send me her reference images as well as the painting, because I'd never seen nor heard of this extraordinarily ugly fish. She told me they are usually under 3 lbs., croak like a frog when they are caught and are also known as "Fisherman's Bane" because they are a waste of bait and not good to eat. So I got a little marine biology lesson along with a painting to critique!
"Sea Robin" by Jill deFelice

I think this was a very interesting choice of subject. A realist painter choosing a very unusual subject takes on the burden of resemblance. What characteristics identify this as a Sea Robin instead of, say,  an Angler fish. I see Jill has chosen to concentrate on the fan-like fins, it's extraordinary mouth and the interesting textural "design" on the side of the head just above the mouth.

The suggestions below reflect minor adjustments which could be caused by familiarity with a subject. Sometimes we artists forget to paint what we ACTUALLY see as opposed to what we think we see or what has come to be familiar. Jill's website indicates water creatures are a passion of hers. Her contemporary style lends itself well to the vivid colors and movement of her subjects. Jill sent me this painting shortly after finishing it. I am certain that with a few day's separation from the work (something I always find to be of great value), she would've seen the Sea Robin with fresh eyes and made adjustments.

Below I have selected some landmarks to compare between the reference image on the left and the painting detail on the right. The two top marks are at the upper edge of the eye ridges, the lip "corners" and mid points and the meeting of 2 planes on the side of the head.

I played "connect the dots" with the landmarks to form a visual envelope for the head features. As you can see, the width of the painted head is considerably wider than the reference and a line connecting the midpoints of the lips are actually reversed - down and left on the reference, down and right on the painting.

I see the vivid color choices that are a hallmark of the work Jill shows on her website. I appreciate the clean mixes she has used, successfully avoiding muddy color. I would encourage taking the color even further: When I look at the reference picture, I see a lot of strong blues in the fins and those blues could also help define the cup-like form of the fins that are shown in the reference, although they appear flat in the painting.  There are some great segues from oranges to violets in the mouth as well.There is a full range of values in the painting, but I would encourage adding in more lighter value areas to help suggest the form of the head. I love that Jill picked up on the almost decorative skin lines just above the mouth, although I might have chosen to use more of a pointalism approach rather than lines.

Something that would be very helpful in lending dimension to the fish and depth to the scene would be to soften the hard edges and de-saturate to colors of the back/far end of the fish. That big fin on the right could really establish the dimensionality by going from soft and desaturated at the back and coming to hard edges and vivid color in the foreground.

The image below shows a very crude Photoshopping of the soft edges, curved fins and adjusted facial proportion.

Check out Jill's website at https://jilldefeliceart.com and her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100013785068950.  Thank you Jill for allowing me the privilege of critiquing your painting of the Sea Robin.

Have a great weekend and remember to Live Out Loud.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sure that was a very helpful critique Terry!


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