I was sent the image above for a critique. It is a charming little painting of an Irish cottage. I felt I could throw a few changes at it though. Below is my "improved" version and then below that, with lovely little bullets, are my explanations of what I did and why.
- The tree was way too complicated. If you put too many branches on a tree, even if they are really there, it looks like an octopus. So I pruned it hard. I also dropped the value of most of it. That puts it into an upright plane. I wanted it's value to be below the highest notes in the grass, The grass is taking a direct light , more than the the tree would receive. I did spot some high lit areas into the tree to make the branches twist a little bit.
- I reworked the shadows on the ground to make them lie down better. I also threw some spots of sunlight in there and varied the color some. It seemed too colored so I added some graver notes to make it more complex. I also divided the amount of grass in the light and shadow less evenly. Half and half is less effective than an unequal amount of both. That gives more variety of shape.
- I softened up the path, a lot. Losing the edges of a path tie it better into the landscape and make it more a part of the ground, rather than looking pasted on to the ground.
- The roof was painted in a value that said shadow. I pulled it into the light, as it faces up. I toned down the overly assertive red door while I was in there. I established a little more light and shadow on the front of the house and lightened up the heavy shadow under the eaves.
- Lastly I simplified the shrubbery behind and to the left of the house. It had too much going on in it.