A Definite Improvement — Or Not?

Recently I wrote about the process of critiquing our own art, and I used a painting I’d recently finished as an example. As I went through the critique process, I quickly realized that — in my opinion — the painting wasn’t finished at all.

Some of you agreed with me; others liked the painting just the way it was. Since I write and schedule blog posts well in advance, I had already made changes to the painting when that first post appeared last week.

I do hope no one is too disappointed with the final results. I was pleased with the painting, and people who have seen it have liked it. I was recently asked to display several paintings at our local community center, and this may be one I choose.

Here’s how the painting looked before:

Framed Kansas Storm Clouds

The problem was that everything I wanted to convey through this painting rested in the little farm scene I had wanted to include. At first, though, I couldn’t get the farm painted right, kept wiping it away, and finally called it done.

After doing the critique, though, I felt the painting definitely needed something more. I still wasn’t able to paint a farm, but I did get at least one farm building painted in, as well as a few trees. If you look closely, you’ll even see a fence. Yeah, I’m getting better at painting fine lines.

New Farm Scene Framed

To me, it’s a definite improvement, so it goes to show how important it is for us to look at our work with a critical eye. I did change it a bit from my original plan. Instead of having the farm scene near the center, I moved it to the left and also added a wider road than I’d originally planned. It seemed to work.

Yet did my improvements satisfy all I was trying to do with this? In some respects, I think the painting still falls a little short of my lofty visions of communicating feelings of isolation, the smallness of mankind, the power of nature, and above all, the idea that we can find hope even in dark moments. 

Or maybe I haven’t improved it at all. Maybe I’ve taken away from the beauty of the storm clouds. I’m not going to spend a lot of time, though, wondering if I did the right thing or not. To me, it felt right, and what I added to the painting gave me more of a sense of completeness. I’m ready to now to call this finished.

Through this process, I have learned how valuable a few moments of thoughtful analysis can be, and critiquing my work will be a definite part of my artistic process from this point on. I’ve learned too, that others will sometimes see our work in different ways. That’s part of what art is all about.



  1. I like how your second version invites my eye to travel around the painting instead of just looking up at the clouds and then down and I really enjoyed your explanation of your thinking behind it, Judith, lovely work! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much, Hilda. The critique/analysis process was interesting, and I think it definitely led to a better painting. I learned a lot from doing the critique, and I’m actually very happy with the result. Thanks for visiting and sharing your thoughts.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. It’s a very different painting , that’s for sure. And it’s successful in conveying your intended meaning and feeling , so big success there! You know how interpretation and response carry an element of the individual ? My individual response resonates more powerfully with the strength of the original , though its meaning and effect were not at all what you intended! I’ve found in looking at your work that the pieces of yours which stop me in my track and cause me to gasp with awe, power, or a dynamic harmony are generally works you’re not happy with. I crave the originality of those paintings , which, though unintended, cause me to see the world and the experience of form and spirit in a new way.

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  3. It’s a totally different painting! I can see that the sky is largely unchanged, but the foreground gives it a completely different feel. The first one I imagine the farm so far out there that you can’t really see it it and the storm is rolling in ominous and huge. The second one the storm doesn’t carry that same weight. The farm scene is lovely and it is a successful foreground, but I still prefer the first one. It’s clear I didn’t see the vision you were after initially. Not having that vision, it was easier for me to accept the first painting as it was. I’m glad you’re happier with the finished painting though.

    A photography tip to keep your colors true to life: Make the white balance in your camera match your real life lighting conditions (daylight, tungsten, florescent, etc.). You do this automatically, but a camera has to be told. As it is right now, I don’t know if your clouds are warm or cool since the before and after photos have different color temperatures. This can be fixed after the fact in any basic photo editor. Just keep your painting in front of you while editing so you get the most accurate true to life results.

    I think the color temperature is a big reason why I prefer the first version of this painting. I like the contrast of the cool sky and warm earth. Your colors also look pure and unmuddied. In the second version, it all looks warm which makes your colors look a little muddied. I would love to see this painting again with corrected white balance.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Yes, it is a very different painting, The only camera I have is my smartphone camera, so my paintings and drawings never look quite right when I post them. I don’t know much about photo editing programs, but I will play around a bit. I appreciate all the helpful information.

      Liked by 2 people

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