This week’s submission comes from artist Charlette Phillips. You can view more of her work on her website at She has completed this painting in acrylics on a 24×24″ canvas. I love this piece because it really tells a story! The trees in the background, and the girl’s eyes especially are SO pretty!  You’ve done a great job of pulling your background colors into your subjects as well!


Taking a look at a few things we can adjust to improve on this even more, first let’s look at the shading overall. You’ve got nice blending skills! Don’t be afraid to get in there and add some interesting highlights and shadows! Right now everything is very flat. With your skill in shading, you will have no trouble creating depth if you spend a bit more time on this. I suspect that you didn’t have an actual model for the clothes. This would be my first bit of advice…find reference photos or even use a sheet draped over a doll so that you can see where the creases and shadows would be. Even the top of the cloak being pointed upward the way it is leads to an unnatural flow of the fabric.

My next tip is for the shading of her face. The shading itself is beautifully done, the colors are great as well. The problem is that the cheeks are shaded in a way that makes her face flat. Make sure to get highlights on her cheekbones.

For her hair, it appears that you’re using a fairly dry brush with frayed tips. Make sure your brush is in good condition with the bristles tight together and add water or your mixing medium to get a smoother flow with the paint. You’re also missing the shadows that the cloak should be causing on the hair. Make sure you are looking at reference of hair as you work so that you can see how it will naturally fall. Right now it’s sticking out in a way that would require a lot of hair product.

The snow behind her appears like a wall. There is no dimension here at all. It’s like an ice wall with a wolf sitting on top instead of snow on the ground with a wolf in the distance.  Look at these snowy landscapes below.


Notice how the shadows and highlights in the snow move horizontally? This is an easy thing to add that will help you to maintain the perspective and depth you’re looking for. If I were painting grass or dirt it would be the same. Keep those horizontal shadows and highlights!

Onto the wolf, as I said he looks like he is just sitting on top of the wall. It doesn’t really even look like he is standing in the snow, but sort of cut out and stuck on top of it. An easy way that you can make him appear to be in the distance would be to create a bit of fog around his feet and back end. I have a video showing you how to do this with either an airbrush or transparent mixing white.

The wolf in general feels flat as well due to a lack of shading, so a bit more time spent there will make a huge difference! Also, watch where you outline. His mouth and eyes have a very cartoony feel because of the heavy lines there. Remember that in life we have shadows and highlights, not outlines.

The last thing I want to mention is on your website. You’re using a blogspot site and right now all I really notice when I go to your homepage are what looks like a whole page of clothing advertisements. I am not sure if this is because of it being a free blogspot site or something that you’ve added, but if I were to be looking for art and came across that one someone’s site, I wouldn’t take the artist seriously enough. If this is your business, I would spend a bit more time on getting your site optimized so that the visitor experience is exactly what you want it to be and not at the mercy of the advertisements!

Your work has a very stylized feel which I like and tells a story that grabs your attention, but if you can take a bit more time to work on your shadows, highlights, depth and a natural flow for the hair and clothing, I think it will draw the viewer in that much more making your story even more powerful!