Thursday 8 July 2010

Strong and Free(lance): Hit Me. *Isaidhitme!*

For this second venture into my Strong and Free(lance) series I want you to hit me.

Thinking about the introspection and reality check Stephanie Zvan recently
asked for, I'd like to request my readers to engage in some constructive criticism if you're game.

Specifically, which painting, drawing or image have I made that you don't like?
Which do you despise?
Is there something I did once I should be doing more often?
Is it a small flaw that mars your enjoyment of a certain piece?
Was it the meaning and intention behind one that fails?

Places you can look:
Professional portfolio - supposed to be the best of the best.
DeviantArt portfolio - more comprehensive, I even throw sketches in there.

Print Shop - art I think others may enjoy purchasing.
Calendars - I've had two, so they're a good spot to get a short overview of my artwork.

I allow anonymous and pseudonymous comments, and I'm also hoping my regular commenters will feel comfortable enough not to use 'em. Those are comfortable doing so, maybe you could also add to your comment your background, for the benefit of other readers?  "I'm Susan, a science blogger at ________ and I was disappointed when you painted X: the anatomy looks sloppy to me"-kind of thing.

Since I started blogging my artwork over 3 years ago, the scientific, atheist, artsy and random commenters who visit have been very supportive, and thanks to everyone.  This is asking for a different kind of support.

Hit me!

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
Creative Commons Licence.

Print Shop


Irradiatus said...

Hey Glendon,

Upfront: I've been a huge fan of your work since we met at ScienceOnline09. That is the salt with which you should take my criticisms.

So I've gone through all your works...and I struggled a little to figure out what if anything I didn't like, and how I might give you any words that might be helpful. I can't promise these will be. :)

One thing I can say right off the bat - and this is pretty much nothing more than a difference between our styles - is that I often find the colors in your paintings a bit more drab than I would have made them. But as I said, this is probably just a reflection of what colors you personally find most pleasing. You've seen my stuff - it's mostly way oversaturated compared to what many might like. So yeah - that's one thought, take it or leave it. You tend to use more earthy colors while mine tend to be more primary.

If you ever get mentally blocked, as I often do, I offer you a challenge for no other reason than to see what you come up with: paint something really pretty with bright happy colors;)

A couple of specific crits: I have a real problem with the arms/hands in at least a couple of your pieces. These are: "Sowing Seeds and Fossils," the "Migrations blog banner," and "Education: Science vs. Religion." The shading/anatomy just doesn't look right - and I'm not really sure how to describe it exactly. I think it's particularly noticeable in the "Education: Science vs Religion" piece because it would otherwise make one badass artwork. The snake is incredibly wicked looking and I really dig it! But that child's arm really detracts from the whole thing.

I've also just plain never liked the "Dimetredon Sphinx" piece. Mainly it's her face that I don't like. But something else was bothering me about it that it took me a bit to figure out. It's the sail/female back connection...once the sail begins up her back and neck, it looks like it's not actually centered where her spine is. To say it another way, it looks like the width from the sail to the edge of her should isn't quite right, which makes her upper body pose seem a bit awkward.

Anyway, that's really all I have for you. I can't think of any more general things that might make you a better artist - you already have the artistic eye, the creativity, and the skill set.

I will say that in general I think your pencil sketches are far superior to your paintings. But I think that's mainly just because you put so much detail into your lines and shading - and I've always been a fan of pencil drawings (it's still what I'm best at). You're dino skull sketches are just plain rad. I love them all.

Cheers, man. I hope you find some modicum of usefulness from this.

Keep up the great work.

Glendon Mellow said...

Thanks Daniel! Great start.

Choosing how to respond to art criticism is perplexing, since I can either offer excuses, explanations, agreement or simply say "thanks for your comments".

I'll respond trying to skip excuses, I think.

You're right - I use a neutral palette, far removed from yours (Everyone should check out Irradiatus' Laughing Mantis site! Awesome!) and bright colours will be a challenge. The only one along those lines is my Tra-la-la-la-lobite. I have plans for another brightly coloured work, and another is finished that I'll present in the fall that has some brighter stuff. But it's an area I don't play in, so I suspect I'll hit some bumps in the road. Good point.

The hands, the hands...maybe it's my hands compared to your own? I dunno. I usually use mine as a model. I have big palms, and short fingers: I can't remember your hands specifically. The ones on Migrations were painted from life, though I admit I contorted my arm in an unnatural and uncomfortable way when sketching & painting. There's a twist at the wrist. The Sowing Seeds & Fossils hand is perfect and you're nuts. ;-) The child hand isn't great, you're right.

Dimetrodon o man, I re-drew that face so many times. The drawing is too small, and even with my .3mm mechanical pencil, I erased that face too many times. I got worried about the paper ripping. I keep meaning to paint it. I think I see what you're saying about the sail: it follows the contour of the outline, not the contour of the spine. Good eye!

I've heard that before about the drawings being better than the paintings: my mom thinks so.

I go back and forth from wanting my painting to be loose and fast like Jon Foster to being tight and realistic like Donato Giancola. Perhaps I need to pick a side.

Thanks Irradiatus!

Peter Bond said...

Hi, I'm Peter, an amateur artist bloggin at Bond's Blog and ART Evolved, a collaborative science/art project with Glendon.

I'm usually not very good at criticizing, I just get a general "I love it" or "I hate it" feeling. But I understand why you are doing this, Glendon, so I'll try.

(The teacher in me really wants to give you a criticism sandwich - praise, criticism, praise! but I'll resist!)

You know I absolutely love your work, and everything I say must be taken with an ionic lattice of salt!

Weirdly, tend to agree with much of what Irradiatus has already said.

I tend to be a bit picky about anatomy, so I'm not much a fan of the hand in "Sowing Seeds and Fossils" and "Education: Science vs Religion." There is something that just doesn't work for me. Totally nitpicky really.

I would also love to see more brighter colours. And I also agree that it is probably just a difference in our styles.

I have to disagree with you in that I tend to like your paintings over your sketches, generally. Though I love the dimetrodon girl!

I know I'll be skewed here, but I don't really like the steps on the head of Darwin in "Darwin takes Steps!" (duck) I love the detail in his wrinkly face and beard, but the steps just freak me out! Again, just gut feeling...

Honestly though, writing this as has taken ages as I can't think of anything else I don't like about your work! Someday, I'd love to see you try a straight, realistic, basic, true-to-life painting of a dino though!

Keep the spirits high, Glendon, criticism can be draining! (Can I add that "The Last Refuge" is my new favorite of yours - great colours and composition!) Yes!

Peter Bond said...

Can we do one of these where we say what we LIKE about your art?

Glendon Mellow said...

Thanks Peter! I'll have to keep working on my ability to draw hands: what about these ones?

Really? The stairs freak you out? That's the first time I've heard that. Interesting. I may have to paint you with a spiral staircase and fireman's pole coming out of your head now. :-)

Define a "true to life dino" for me...?

Hahaha..., maybe one day!

Thanks Peter.

As for doing one where you say what you like, I suppose it could be educational for me as well: so long as I don't ask for fawning praise. I could try and understand which paintings (Beyond Darwin Took Steps) resonate the best with my bloggy audience.

We'll see. Hm.

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