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Friday, January 11, 2019

Learn How to Critique Your Work

'Undiscovered Beauty'.     16x9            pastel            ©Karen Margulis
available $175
 It seems like such a challenging thing to do. How do we know if a painting is truly finished? How do we know what to do if it isn't finished?  I recently heard a quote that really made me think.

" You can't paint better than you know" Dan Young

Sometimes we feel like we need to know everything about painting all at once. We want to have all the answers and know exactly what every painting needs. But it doesn't always happen. We have to have the experience, knowledge and practice to figure out the answers. And that takes time. But there is something we can do.... we can ask the right questions! Knowing what we should look for when finishing a painting is a good first step!

The painting above is an example of time and practice helping me discover the right answers. I painted it a few years ago and I was happy with the original painting. But I pulled it out the other day and it was just  'nice'.  There was no punch. There was no real visual journey for the viewer. But now, several years later I not only knew the questions....I knew the answers! I put the painting back on the easel and made some adjustments. Unfortunately I forgot to take  a photo of the original version of the painting But it was quite monotonous.


  • I asked myself if I had created a visual journey for the viewer.  Were there pathways or areas of contrast for the viewer to follow?
  • I asked if there was a visual connection between the ground and the sky or did I have two separate paintings?
  • I asked if there was anything distracting that took the eye in the wrong place?
I had some questions to help me critique what I had done and I set about making the adjustments. I added more clarity and punch (contrast) in some of the flowers . I added spice marks (contrast) to pull the eye further into the painting. I made adjustments to the sky and corrected the problem areas. Having the right questions gave me a direction to follow! Time and experience gave me possible answers!

What is happening on Patreon? NEW!! MEMBER CRITIQUE. I have added a new monthly feature on my Patreon Page. Each month I will give an in depth critique of a member's painting. Each month we will also explore tools we can use to become better at evaluating our own work.  Check out my page and see the Video Demo of the adjustments I made to this painting.



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