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Critiques for Better Days

May 8, 2021
By Richard Robinson
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Abstraction and Realism in one Painting!

Follow me one brushstroke at a time as I take you through the process of creating this dramatic painting of an ageing beauty. Learn to create create expressive abstract backgrounds and lay in the details over the top. Discover the power of a greyed palette complemented by one strong accent colour.

Good design, accurate drawing, passionate brushwork and a variety of fun techniques are all demonstrated in the video. Enjoy!


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Better Days 15x20" Acrylic on Canvas by Richard Robinson


Student Critiques

"Better Days" a watercolour & gouache painting, by Eric Hillmer, Toronto, ON, Canada.

Hey Eric great painting! I love that you gave it a go in watercolour and gouache. Great attention to detail and you've done a great job of creating the rounded form of the hull as it moves into shadow - not easy! Nice job of the grasses transitioning from abstract to real too - not overworked which is great to see.

Would have liked to see you use a much bigger brush for blocking in the dark background because it's not quite achieved the loose painterly feel that that can allow. You've spent some time making the scaffolding quite detailed and tightly drawn but if you're going to be that specific about it I'd want to see some colour variation (rust, paint, etc) on those white bars and also some strong cast shadows where they overlap. Other than that, all good - beautiful work!


Old boat, acrylic with oil glazing, canvas, 40 cm x 50 cm

Great work, Elena! interesting approach you took in glazing over impasto acrylics with oils. The rich textures you've created by doing that really do suit this subject and that's a great achievement to have your technique speak about your subject.

I do feel like some of the grass could have more structure to make it more real. Perhaps just a few highlights of ragweed or similar. Great job!


'Forgotten' by Evelyn Tuhi-Herewini

Good job Evelyn. This is not a great photo of your painting but I can see how this would look in the flesh. A tip for photographing your painting, take it from a slight angle above your painting to avoid glare and then straighten the image using the perspective tools under the cropping function. If your phone camera doesn't have that function then you can download an app called JotNot which does the same thing. Also I've you're taking the photo in the shade indoors close to a big window (which is good), you'll likely need to increase the exposure a little and tint the photo a little warmer after taking the photo - all of which is available in the editing functions of any recent smartphone camera.

As for the painting the only thing I'd like to see is the drawing of the boat done a little better. Comparing it in the mirror with the original photo will help a lot with that. Currently the side of the hull needs a little more curve and the front line of the bow has developed a bit of a wobble. Small wobbles good, big wobbles not so good.
Good work!



Better Days Lesson Acrylic 12x16 by Jill Frazier

Nice one Jill! Love your energetic brushwork and strong value contrast. Dramatic! Couple of things to think about... look at the the colour in the long curving vertical stroke of the bow. In yours the colour and value is the same for the whole stroke. In mine the colour varies a little from cool to warm and gets darker at the bottom as it flows under the hull into the shadow.

That small feature is an important one because without it, in yours, the hull is being flattened out because the colour isn't make it curve away into shadow. Easy to fix. Similarly the broad dark brown area on the hull next to this line could do with more light in the midsection before it curves into shade.

Make those two small changes and the boat will look a lot more three dimensional.
Other than that, nice job!

Thanks to everyone who was part of the monthly workshop!
(Monthly workshops are available to all Premium Members - $20/month)
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