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Painting Critiques for the 'In the Shadow of Alfred' Workshop

April 30, 2024
By Richard Robinson
Painting Critiques for the 'In the Shadow of Alfred' Workshop logo

Painting In the Shadow of Alfred

"In the Shadow of Alfred" by John Crump

Glenorchy, New Zealand


Towards the Routeburn by John Crump


Student Critiques

In the shadow of a mountain, oil, canvas, 30 cm x 60 cm

Artist: Elena Sokolova

Good effort here, Elena. Your greyed colours are very homogenous and so there's a sense of light through atmosphere. You've also modulated these colours subtly across large areas which was one of the key take-aways from this lesson. There are three things I'd like you to look at again:
1. The edge of the mountains against the sky needs sharpening by painting back in the the sky.
2. The branches in the central tree have been drawn in rather than 'dashed in', making them look man-made and stiff. It's worth try this several times to get the hang of it. Using the right brush with thin enough paint is the key.
3. You've lost the nice browns in the trees and the foreground scrub, and the dark band of the foreground is a barrier to entering the painting.

I hope that helps.


In the Shadow of Alfred (modified) 12 x 16 oil on linen canvas board

Artist: Louise Villegas

Looks like you have a taste for vibrant colour like I do, Louise. With that you've certainly achieved a sunnier aspect so it's been successful in that respect if that was a goal you had to change the lighting condition.

You'll find of course that the more you have to invent, the less realistic the painting becomes. That's the trade off.


In The Shadow of Alfred Oil on Canvas

Artist: Nancy Newton

HI Nancy, a nice feeling of light through this painting with good distance achieved. I like the fluid painterly brushwork as well, especially in the grasses.

Some of you patches of light in the snowy mountains seemed to spread into larger shapes which looks a little confusing. I've spent many hours watching John apply these finishing touches in the snow and while they look effortless, there is of course a lot of care and forethought in them, and often some scraping or reshaping till he's got them just right.

Looks to me like there was a fair amount of reworking that went on for you too, and you got it to the point where John would have scraped it a bit and repainted the base colours and then tried those highlights just one more time. You're nearly there!

The central tree ended up a little on the broccoli side because of the too-regular shape and the density of the foliage. Painting some of the background grey softly into those clumps will help with that.

I like the fact that you've made somewhere to park the campervan, but I do feel having what looks like a parking area there detracts from the overall nature of the scene. Could use some roughing up.

Keep up the good work!


"Roosters at Mt. Alfred" in acrylics by Eric Hillmer, Toronto, ON, Canada.

Artist: Eric Hillmer

Nice interpretation there Eric! Focusing on the chickens has turned this into something more of a farmyard scene. You did a great job of the detail there.

The colours overall are a little more vibrant, with a nice contrast between orange and blue - always a winner. The grey in the hill on the right doesn't make sense within this scheme though - it should be a darker value than the mountains in the background which are many kilometres further away.

The dark branches in the trees look 'painted on top' rather than being within the foliage. That could have been avoided by adding some of that foliage colour to the dark mixture, or by painting some of the foliage lightly back over the branches.

The hard edge all across the top of the chicken field has an unnatural feel. Take a good look at how John has been careful to break and soften that edge in his painting.

Lots of interesting things to learn in this simple scene!



What decisions turn good paintings into great paintings?

Watch as John demonstrates his approach to plein air painting in the glorious winter landscape of New Zealand's Southern Alps and then on a rocky coastline where the weather does its best to interfere!

As he works in the landscape he loves, his candid 'on the spot' commentary on his methods and materials will help resolve many of the problems that artists confront.


Learn About

  • Oil painting outdoors
  • Choosing your scene
  • Getting the best out of your scene
  • Impressionistic painting techniques
  • Lots more!