A Tiny Tea Party... critique?



  • This is one of those pieces that I just sketched out of the blue one day, thought "Hey, lets see what it would look like if I took it to final" and ended up becoming more than just a random sketch.

    So in some ways it was experimental, but also I'm now regretting how I just kind of skipped around my process and played things by ear. Things like value patterning got ignored until too late, etc. etc.... yeah yeah. My fault. But it was nice to try new things too, so I guess thats what happens sometimes--parts of the experiment work while others don't so much.

    Anyway, this is where it is now, and I'm mostly happy with it. I feel like there are a couple things that aren't quite as good as they could be though, but I can't put my finger on anything specific. That may just be because I skipped steps at the beginning and its a bit to late now. That said... any help or suggestions to figure things out would be appreciated.

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  • @sarah-luann I really like this piece. It’s a bit reminiscent of some of the classic illustrators. Makes me think of Alice in Wonderland and Wind in the Willows. I don’t really have any critiques. It’s lovely. ☺



  • @pamela-fraley Well thank you! I'm glad you like it. I'm flattered that you would compare it to classic illustrators, who of course are a HUGE influence on me. I think the main one that was in my mind as I drew it was Beatrix Potter, but of course she wasn't the only one--Tenniel is another who I like looking at, so the Alice comparison is also flattering.

    Now let me go off on a tangent. This is mostly for my benefit, so nobody should feel like they have to read this 😉

    I'm having trouble figuring out how to market myself and my classic looking illustrations, which is more and more the direction I'm finding myself going. Like... why would someone hang one of my prints when they could get a print of an actual Beatrix Potter illustration?

    And while people give positive feedback on my art (including agents and ADs), I feel like it is SO off-trend it gets brushed off--I see so much more stuff that is either super rendered, or really naive, and just not me. Anyway. The question in the last Third Thursday--what to do if you've found a style you enjoy and have good feedback on but aren't sure how marketable it is.... that was mine. I'm figuring it out though... I think.

    Answering my own question--a HUGE part of my problem is the need to fill out my portfolio with more stuff people (as in Agents/ADs 😉 really want to see--characters drawn consistently, stuff with a story, maybe a section for black and white stuff... all that jazz. So maybe I shouldn't worry until I've filled that gap. I keep intending too, and then my mind wanders off and comes back with one-off images such as the one above. So the underlying problem to this underlying problem (whew!) is probably discipline, and making myself do the work that will actually fill the gaps in my portfolio.

    End ramble. 🙂



  • Hey I really like this picture, i'd love to be able to produce something as good. For a critique I would give the rabbit a more animated pose because it looks like all the characters are focused on him like he's telling a story or something? Just an idea... 🙂



  • @sarah-luann Disclaimer -- I am not a professional illustrator and know nothing about that market but in general it seems like there are a lot of professions/avocations in which one has to pursue two paths at once, one path being producing something you'll get paid for and the other doing the thing you are passionate about, hoping that someday in the future those two paths will come together. The people I know in other fields who have finally gotten to where they wanted to be were those who were both practical about the realities of needing to make a living and also doggedly stubborn about also pursuing their own vision, even if on their own time. All of that's to say, I agree with your conclusion to your own ramble 🙂 (And as an aside, I love your painting and would certainly pay for it!)



  • It´s a really lovely piece, and yes, it definitely has that classical look to it.

    The more I walk the path the more I believe that you can only reliably talk about „your style“ when a) you got several hundred finished illustrations to your records; b) you recognize that you are constantly growing and changing.
    I have been where you are not once but many times. „I feel like this is what I really want to do“ has been in my mind multiple times. First it was traditional oil painting (old-masters style). Then it was portrait. I even got short-listed for the Royal Gallery portrait exhibition and I thought I would make my living as portrait artist. Then I moved into digital and discovered concept art for films and videogames (things like „Halo“ and „The Lord of the Rings“) and I thought I had found my calling. Then it was concept art for animation. I fell in love with 3D-modeling at some point and I even have „Z-Brush artist“ still on my business cards.
    And then I moved into children illustration and I started over again. Recently I have been doing a lot of pieces with a pastel look to them (digital, but looks like pastel) and I could have said „hey, I found my style!“, but by now I know better. Yes, it´s a style that works for me and it´s even marketable. But it´s really only a phase I am working in and may or may not last. And I have two projects lined up that require a different style already.
    So, I guess what I want to say is not to worry too much with the „marketability“ of anything you do, and just do a lot of art. Not only it´s a constant journey that may bring you in directions you cannot foresee yet, but with each piece you grow as an artist and you get more „marketable“ very naturally just by growing your skills and your portfolio - regardless of style.



  • @smceccarelli Thanks for this--it is daunting yet comforting at the same time!



  • Thanks for the thoughts, guys, and sorry for not getting back sooner--the holidays, pregnancy fatigue, and life in general happened. 🙂

    @Jason-Bowen I think you're right--a more animated pose for the rabbit isn't a bad idea. On the other hand, I kind of like the more calm, sedate Victorian feel its got, which I think more animated poses and expressions would fight with. So it's a toss up.

    And good thoughts as always, @smceccarelli. I think there is a balance to be found between doing whatever you feel like at the time stylistically, and sticking with a certain process/look until you can be really consistent at it. Consistency is important--as is experimenting and stretching as an artist.

    Anyway, I did make a blog post showing the progress of this piece if anyone cares to take a look: [http://www.sarahluann.com/art-blog/time-for-tea](link url)