Twilight Frost at the Old Creek

Here is a painting I recently completed. I’m asking for very honest opinions on this, please.

Twilight Frost at the Old Creek by Judith Kraus – Oil on Canvas Panel 16×20

Being “an artist” involves much more than learning how to apply a medium to a support/surface. It requires a certain sort of vision, an ability to use one’s imagination, and a creative spirit. I know I have the spirit and the imagination, but do I have true “artistic vision”? Is that something that can be learned? Or is that vision what we actually refer to as talent?

Of course I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished in the last eighteen months. Before I began studying art, I really and truly could not draw a straight line — even with a ruler. I’ve made good progress as far as developing skills. I know the basics of using pencils, charcoal, watercolors, pastels, and now oil paints.

As part of my learning experience, I’ve followed many different tutorials, read different books, taken online classes, all of which has generally meant copying someone else’s work or working to copy images in reference photos. That’s a good skill to develop, of course, but true art goes beyond that, I think. True art requires originality.

The artists whose work we most admire are usually those who see the world from a unique perspective. They’ve developed their own style, they have a signature palette, or they’ve created new art forms to showcase their singular visions. Their work is different. Even when they work from a real-life image, they put their own artistic stamp on what they see.

I’ve come to a point now where I want to move beyond the rudimentary skills associated with art. I want, if possible, to develop an artistic vision, that ability to arrange elements, to put together interesting compositions, to utilize color in ways that evoke moods and emotions. In short, I want to create works that draw the viewer in, works that tell stories, works that are, well… art. Real art.

So I’m asking now for honest opinions about my “Twilight Frost” painting. I personally have mixed feelings about it. I like it because it came out as I had envisioned it. I wanted to create an almost ghost-like quality, a feeling of seeing one’s breath in the air, a sense of icy beauty yet all with a gentle touch of warmth. In my eyes, I succeeded, but overall, how does the painting strike you?

I wonder — and worry — that it’s too bland, too commonplace, too simple. It’s difficult to see much of the detail in the photo but there is some there. Is it enough? Are the colors too tiresome? Does it need a wider range of values? How could I improve upon it?

Your critiques are welcomed and will be greatly appreciated.





      1. When I feel this way I set the painting in my living room where I see it on and off and let it rest. And then time passes and I get more clear on what I do or don’t like. I do this with almost every work. I find I need this break in order to know if I am really finished or not!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you. I have found that finishing a painting and then letting time elapse gives me some distance to realize… the painting is not finished, and for the reason it needs more work to float to the surface of my mind. I have even had paintings on the wall of my booth for sale and while sitting there at the show, staring at it, said, “It’s not done yet!” and taken it down. This is maybe leaving it a little late in the game, but…if you have that nagging feeling it’s not as you want it, well, it’s not, is it?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yes, because it’s not right for me to take it away from someone who has decided they like it, and it’s my fault I didn’t take it down. But, once I decide it’s not ok I usually get right up and remove it (so it’s never happened). Because I can no longer stand looking at it until I fix it! I have had paintings that I felt were finished, didn’t like much, but also didn’t feel strongly enough to take down, and people have bought them, complimenting them, etc. So I think it’s often not that the painting is so bad, but we have not resolved our relationship to my satisfaction?!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I think you’re right. And, as you said, someone else may see a piece that “feels” complete to them. Much of the beauty of art truly is in the eye of the beholder, and I suppose it’s always difficult for us to be fully objective about our own works.


  1. You have inspired me to write another blog! I will alert you when I post it. I started this comment with the words “You asked, so i’m giving you my thoughts. Personally, I love your painting and I think it’s quite successful – both emotionally and compositionally But what I think about it doesn’t really matter. But because you asked, I’m going to tell you what I’m hearing from you, based on my own experiences.” (Then I realized my comment was growing much too long so I’m just going to continue my thoughts on my own blog.) I think it’s so cool that we only know each other from our blogs about our art and yet we are inspiring to each other. I really appreciate you as an artist and a writer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Judi. (BTW, when I was in high school, I used the same spelling of my name.) I can’t wait to read more of your thoughts, so please let me know when the new blog begins. I’ve found so much encouragement and inspiration from the online art community, and I feel I’ve made some very good friends. I’m glad I came across your blog, and I look forward to getting to know more about you and your heart. Your comments — and advice — are always appreciated.


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