Monday, September 24

² Malevi4a: A Nice Blog that Needs a Bit of Attention

Too bad even the passion for Leo Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov and Fyodor Dostoevsky can't get strong enough to persuade me into learning Russian, a language spoken by a generous and kind artist -- Polyvyanyj Aleksey -- the host of ² Malevi4a who blogs all those fascinating stuff from guys all over the world about illustration, design, photography, art blah blah blah, and who is kind enough to feature my stuff as well. Of course he has great taste, just look at that collage at the top. Go say hello, and thank him for the good job. :P

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Friday, September 21

Nonsense: From 1909 to Stardom

Ilike having fun with a bit of writing nonsense, and unfortunately, I don't care that much about making a fool out of myself. :P

Today I checked out my redbubble account and saw my portfolio page has 1909 views. I'm sure it's a pretty lame record for which I have a whole bag of excuses. It inspired me though to write something funny for I haven't done that for a while (you know i really work my butt off for those baby things ;)). And this is it:
One thousand, nine hundred and nine
Is the number of my views.
Without my own thousand and nine,
The number would be rather few.

Who's gonna give me ninety one,
To make up a perfect two thousands?
When pigs fly or the doomsday comes..
Or I earn the acknowledged stardom.
It's bad, I know, not like I've never done anything silly since I was born. :)

Saturday, September 15

Who Cares About My Birthday??

Apparently, the bots of Dynamic Drive Forums and Web Hosting Talk do, who sent me - almost at the same time, using exactly the same phrase - a note wishing me a happy birthday today. It is quite touching, honestly, considering none of my friends cares about me enough to call me up or send me gift vouchers. That's one the best qualities of the advanced, refined computering technology I live by and observe for all those years: showing a bit of the positive humane sides which some of the real human beings are not capable of expressing.

Giving a Critique - a Check List for Critiquers

Gettin'tired of singing praises? Yes, I am. :P This article is basically a guideline, submitted by Dana Design on WetCanvas, for all those guys who can't keep their mouth shut once they see something really bad, or really good -- well. you know, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. IMHO, they are not just for criticizing others, but perfect for making yourself a decent judge when it comes to value your masterpiece(s). I have copied the whole article here, and I hope you may learn a thing or 2 so maybe next time you feel like criticizing others' works, at least your comment will consist of some aesthetic value w/o making yourself look bad in the end. ;)

Giving a Critique - a Check List for Critiquers
Author: Henrik_Lindberg, Contributing Editor

Not quite sure how to give a critique? This article is an attempt to provide some advice.

There are two checklists: a positive list for the elements that contribute to a successful work; and a negative list that looks at flaws.

Finally, you will find advice on putting it all together including the frame of mind needed for providing a critique. I have tried to keep the lists compact and general while still aiming to explain what is, perhaps, not obvious. The lists should work for both realism and abstract art as they are not based on a set of rules such as "Don't put the horizon on the middle".

Positive Check List
  • Focus/impact area - An effective focus/impact area makes the difference between a picture and a work of art. The impact area gives the viewer direction and establishes a sense of priority for all the other elements. A focus/impact area means that the artist has been able to capture what in real life is selective seeing - we can only focus on one thing at a time, the rest is seen through peripheral vision. Does the work have such an area?
  • Mood/feeling - Does the work convey a mood? Decide if it is merely rendering of parts or if there is a sense of interpretation and feeling.
  • Creativity - What has been done better, or differently, from the ordinary? Was creativity used in the selection of subject and/or use of materials?
  • Composition - Design - Are there interesting shapes - both positive and negative? Is there a variety of shape sizes? Are the picture elements arranged in a dominant design scheme - for example with rectangular or diagonal emphasis? Is the design based on one or several geometric forms and, if several, do they work together? Does the design work with, or against, the subject? Does it attract attention to itself (i.e. the arrangement takes over the subject)? Is the composition balanced?
  • Composition - Counterpoint - Evaluate the complexity of the subject and the selection of shapes used. Look for a dominant element, subelements and repetition of elements. Is there variety/counterpoint? In general, the more complex the better - without going over the top. Remember the rule: ”Diversity within unity”.
  • Value - How has tonal value been used to convey mood, depth, dimension, and impact/focus? Look at the composition of general tonal areas.
  • Color - How has color been used to convey mood, harmony, and depth? Does the color scheme fit the subject? Has color been used to establish a focus/impact area? Check for the use of color fundamentals like complementary or analogous color.
  • Other fundamentals - Evaluate the use of other fundamentals (besides color and value) such as perspective, edges, and style. How does perspective help to convey depth? Is perspective used creatively? Are hard edges used to pull elements forward and soft edges used to integrate elements in the scene? How is style used to promote the intent/mood?
  • Unity - Unity is what holds all parts together. Has color, pattern or technique been used to establish unity?
  • Craftsmanship - This is where the technical skills such as drawing and the handling of materials are assessed.
  • Readability/flow - Can the viewer's eye move easily into the work? How has the artist used shape, line, value, color, perspective, etc to guide you to the focus/impact area, to/from sub-themes and away from exit areas?

Negative Check List

  • Technical inaccuracy - Does inaccurate drawing make elements work against the logic or intent of the composition? For example, shadows that fall in the wrong direction, a sloping horizon, errors in perspective for realistic art.
  • Lack of imagination - Poor selection of subject and approach. A dull subject rendered in a dull way.
  • Lack of originality - Presenting a trite subject that has been painted a thousand times before.
  • Content discrepancy – An element that is not in character with the logic or intent of the work. For example: the artist intends to make a realistic wildlife painting but shows the animal in the wrong environment.
  • Style discrepancy - Inconsistent styles within the same work, or the obvious influence of another artist’s style in parts.
  • Inconsistent quality - Landscape good, wildlife weak.
  • Easy way out – The artist has obviously positioned a subject to avoid difficult detail.
  • Plagiarism - The artist has copied another's work, or used someone else's photographs, and presented it as their own. (This also has legal implications.)
  • Lack of interpretation - The artist was controlled by the subject. For example, including the shadow of a photo flash, or rendering a subject's eyes with effect of photo flash; a pleine aire artist has included an ugly object which detracts from their landscape simply because it was there.
  • Poor presentation - How is the work presented? Is it free from the non-artistic use of coffee-stains, globs of paint, brush hairs stuck in dry paint, fingerprints, shoddy frame, poorly cut matte, sloppily painted edges of canvas, canvas shining through, poor/uneven varnishing, cracks, scratches, etc?
  • Empty - No mood, message or feeling conveyed.

Your critique should be divided into two sections: what has been done well and what could be improved. The focus should be on providing feedback that will help the artist - and onlookers - learn something.

What has been done well - select a few of the best things and say why you think they work.

What could be improved – select areas where the biggest improvements could be made and say why. Suggest ways the improvements could be made and give your reasons. Where appropriate, provide links to relevant examples or reference material. If the artist has chosen to allow digital alternations of their work you may like to provide an edited image to illustrate your points.

*let the checklists dictate the form of the critique - you shouldn't try to comment on every item. Use them to help you pinpoint and analyse what has been done well and what could be improved.
*overwhelm the artist by including too many suggestions or too much information.

*critique in a positive, non-judgmental spirit.
*try to pitch your critique to the right level - you will not turn a beginner into an expert in a single step.
*try to be as objective as possible and set aside your own taste in art - the critique is about the artist's work, not about you.

Remember, the artist is seeking constructive feedback on how to improve - both in the work under critique and for their future development. Therefore, your suggested improvements do not have to be corrections that can be easily made. For example, it may not be possible to completely rearrange a watercolor but the artist can incorporate what is learned in future work.

When the artwork is exceptionally good, and you can not find any improvements you can instead elaborate on the analysis and point out in more detail what has been done well - this could be more for the benefit of the onlookers than for the artist.

Finally, when giving a critique, try to think of yourself as being hired by the artist as a mentor or teacher, or perhaps a defense attorney whose job is to make your client's work look its best in court (even if it is hideous). If you truly dislike something and really can’t think of anything that would help, it is best to refrain from posting. If the artist has specifically asked for your opinion, perhaps, instead of a critique, you could suggest some exercises, articles, other artwork or reference material to look at. Remember there are plenty of lessons, projects, library images and other material here at WetCanvas! to refer to.

Saturday, September 8

Somebody Is Speaking Italian?

Excuse my ignorance but I need a good translator here. Someone has left comments on my works but even Babel Fish Translation gives me no satisfactory answer. They are as follows:
  • J'aime vraiment beaucoup celle-ci. Bravo
  • Celle-ci aussi me plait beaucoup. Encore bravo
In case you can read them, please be kind enough to translate them for me, thanks. ;)

Wednesday, September 5

Another Good Find: Lightbox2 For Showing Off Your Pics as Overlay Images

Example Image:
Lightbox is a simple, unobtrusive script used to overlay images on the current page. It's a snap to setup and works on all modern browsers.

I have seen this thing before and always wanted it, thanks God I found it via the delicious It's a javascript that let a smaller preview pic show up on the current page in a nice and show way. You can give it a try on the homepage of Lightbox2, just make sure beforehand that you enable javascripts on your browers. I also use pop-up images on my website for my works, with a little trick of CSS, whose drawback is that those images would be fetched at the same time when the page starts loading so it's more time-consuming. Since now I found this life-saver, I probably will spend some time rebuilding my site all over again. Speaking of rebuilding, I just updated my site this morning, adding a new gallery, thanks to Autoviewer, for my The Triple series, plus a work called No.45 which is probably my favorite of this series so far and is my special treat for you as well. ;)

One more thing: guess what, my diigo group, Art.In.General., has 7 members! Most of them are as quiet and dead as possible; well, if only they got enough beauty sleep! ;) I have added a couple of new bookmarks in the last few days, don't forget to drop by.