Art Talk

Last Saturday (a week ago) I went to “Art Talk” with Patricia Schmidt. This is a new series of classes that Patricia has designed, intended to help artists like me move to the next level with guided critique and analysis of our paintings.

I brought two paintings: “Sizing Up the Competition” and “Delight” (title possibly to be revised). After all the various critiques last week, I really thought “SUtC” was finished, and “Delight” had been sitting on my drafting board so long with no changes that I assumed it had finished.

I should have known better.

Sizing Up the Competition

Patricia is an award winning artist whose works have appeared in the Splash series. She worked for years as an illustrator before moving into fine art. Her works (I can’t show you, you need to follow the link) are incredibly detailed and thought-out. While I have no aspirations to paint in her style, I find her analysis to be thought provoking.

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I started with “SUtC”. The first comment came from one of the other attendees; this person asked “what is that white thing up there” (meaning the area above the grey’s ear.) I had studied that myself, wondering if it was too much contrast for a low-impact part of the painting. This comment settled that!

Patty then suggested a variety of other very subtle changes:

  • Darkening the white reign that leads out of the picture.
  • Darkening the chin of the grey
  • Lightening (or possibility) the brown behind the chestnut’s mane (to create more impact and depth of field)
  • Darkening the interior corner of the shadow role on the bay.
  • Adding a suggestion of body definition to the lower part of the bay (similar to the chestnut).

I also decided to add a little definition to the chestnut’s ears.

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These changes took less than 10 minutes; but the result is an even better painting. In fact, Patty complimented me on the intensity of the horses’ eyes.


After everyone took a turn, I brought out “Delight”. For six weeks this painting has sat on my drafting board and I haven’t found a thing to critique. I almost didn’t bring the painting. I’m sure glad I did.

Patty, who does a lot of flowers herself, immediately suggested bringing up the drama by adding a dash more darkness to the interior curves. The outer tipped petals on the right back would be better with a little more red wash. The left-most dark petal needs a dark wash on the bottom to increase the intensity.

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Again, these changes took less than 5 minutes, but the results are stunning. Patty also suggested a final cropping mat the resolves the lingering tension of the outer tipped petals.

I’ll order my mats for these this week. I truly believe that this time we’re done and they are ready to make their debuts.