Today’s critique comes from artist Catherine Scudder. She painted this 18×24″ turtle using acrylic paints. Catherine usually works in colored pencil, this was her first go at painting. WOW! This is so great for a first try!! I love the background so much. The fade from the light blue to the black was nicely done! I also really like the turtles face, and that on the turtles arms and legs you didn’t just paint them all one color, you have variation between a lighter reddish brown do the dark brown. The detail in the eyes and the shading on his nose is beautiful!!
Looking at some things that we can adjust to improve on this even more. I don’t have your reference photo so we are going to ignore the drawing itself and focus more on the colors and overall design for this critique. First is the color of the turtle. He is REALLY yellow and orange with no hint of the background blue. It makes it feel like he isn’t a part of his surroundings. If I remove the color saturation, that alone helps. I’ve also hyped up the contrast and softened the outer edge where the strongest point of light is coming through which all makes him look more apart of the background. Going a step farther than what I’ve done here, I would pull a LOT of blues into the shell. That darker navy color. I would avoid using much yellow at all.
The next thing that I want to look at is the way you’ve applied the paint. You sent in a great close up shot of the face. Notice the rough dotted look of the brown against the yellow on the neck. This is called dry brushing and it’s something that I see beginner art books encourage artists to do and I wish they would stop. It’s really a sort of short-cut that may be easy for shading, but it will flow and look so much better if you avoid it. When you start seeing this look it simply means that you need more paint and water on your brush.
You’ve done a great job, I can’t believe this is your first try at painting!!