Critique – Barbara Chapman

Barbara Chapman

Student’s Comments:

What I like:

  • This is a painting of Amsterdam worked from a series of photos and sketches I took while there. It is the most complex painting I have attempted in a while from a standpoint of structure … and spent quite a bit of time on the composition and choice of palette.
  • I love the brush strokes in the water and surrounding sides but feel that the buildings may not have been as successful. I have been working hard to follow your advice of working on the whole … larger areas to smaller.

What could be improved:

  • Maybe some of the brush strokes and colours/values of the buildings and trees.
  • I like the buildings more than the trees.

Dan’s Comments:

Hi Barbara

Lovely painting. It gives me fond memories of my visit to Amsterdam in my early 20s. Not an easy scene to paint!

What I like:

  • The flowers at the bottom work well. They give a sense of foreground and help lead us into the painting. They also tell us that we are on a bridge (not floating over the water). 
  • There’s a strong sense of linear perspective with all the lines converging at a vanishing point on the horizon line. This helps capture the nature and character of Amsterdam. 
  • You did well to paint the architecture in a painterly style whilst retaining a sense of realism. Not easy to do.

What could be improved:

  • The painting could use a few hard edges and areas of clarity. It looks a touch hazy and vague at the moment. I wouldn’t need to be much. Perhaps just a sharp, dark accent or highlight. 
  • It looks like the trees and river continue indefinitely. What happens after the trees and river? Perhaps make it clearer.
  • The clouds look timid and lack distinct shadows. Consider where the sun is and add shadows accordingly. The shadows will make the highlights pop. 
  • Be careful not to get caught up in the details by painting every single leaf. Simplify. Look for big, simple shapes, clusters, and forms then add more particular details from there.

Well done Barbara.