::sigh::… everyone is going to murder me for this, but im going to say it. if i sound harsh, i do not mean it, please forgive me.
ive looked at this over and over again, but in 100% honest opinion… the only thing this piece has going for it is its technical rendering and some areas of nice color. i really think the composition could have been MUCH better… now ive looked at your challenge page and know that you thought a lot about the composition… but the image appears as if it hasnt been thought out at all, but rather done for the sake of rendering… in other words, it seems like the only thing you thought about was the rendering and superflous details. the two figures have no weight, and the masked character doesnt look like shes holding the other one up even one bit. they look as if they are floating. the little butterflies are too sharp and take the eye away from the focal point of the two heads. the poses are very akward and rigid… i do not believe for one second that either of them are actually touching the ground. they look cut and paste from another image there.
as for the rendering, it looks far too much like a photograph. i am not saying that in a good way… what i mean is that it looks like two of your friends posing in a costume instead of two painted figures inside that space. realism is fine, and i believe that is what you were trying to achieve, but when a redering/painting/interpretation looks like a photograph instead of the interpreted version, then to me, it has failed as much as it can.
there are waaaaay too many unneccessary details in the figures… so much that they have no real focus. it looks like you relied heavily on photographs, and made this a rendering exercise rather than a painting. i believe (and many others, though probably few from this forum, will agree on this) that a truly experienced artist will make sure the interpreted subject will not have an equal distribution and rendering of all the details in every area… the experienced artist will use discretion… that is not to say that attention shouldnt be spread evenly, because it absolutely must… but as it stands, this has all the things the eye shouldnt really see rendered out. it has a lack of important descision making as far as what to render and what not to render. my main example would be the feet. out of curiosity, why did you paint every single wrinkle, veins, and every little detail? granted, if you enjoy this (i do too), its all good… but in terms of a whole, i believe they detract from your overall image.
youre probably going to point out bouguereau or alma tadema, or any of their contemporaries. well, they sure can render. their compositions are better than yours, though not by much… but they also suffer from the same “technicality over personality” trait that i think plagues images in the same vein. some will disagree with me… maybe many. but i stand by this.
i think you should express yourself more rather than limit yourself to what your references show you. now i know that everyone has their own way of expression, and one really isnt better than the other… but that is only in terms of the value of expression. i think your style is limiting you immensely, and keeping you from what i believe could be a better painting all around. your two figures… i could take photos of the same girls in the same lighting and change the color around a bit, and replace them. if this is possible, then the artist has failed to do what they have set out to do… and instead made a replica rather than an interpretation of any sort.
what im trying to say is that because you have an urge to make things look as realistic as possible, you are forced to hold back some other tendancies that could make your images look far more painted, original, full of personality and character… rather than looking like a composite of reference photographs. your other piece with the girl stabbing the mirror is a good example of what i mean when i say “composite of photographs.”
now, i know mine is nothing to boast about. i know all of my shortcomings at this point and i know i have also done some of the things i am criticizing you for. im not going to defend my piece at all because it isnt worth it at this point. however, for the sake your knowledge, my piece was a personal challenge to see what i could do without using a single photograph or reference. that does not make my piece any better, but it does let you know part of why it looks the way it does.
anyway… if youve read this, thanks for the time you spent. i hope this sheds some new light for you, regardless of agreement or disagreement. see ya.