Cheryl Metzger’s colored pencil painting, Back Porch Memories, presents the viewer with a lesson in contrasts while creating a visual story for the viewer. She has created a painting that gives us a sense of time and place while engaging the eye with a variety of textures, complementary colors and a strong range of values.
Art Critique of Back Porch Memories
The simple elements of the still life connect the viewer with a feeling of nostalgia and evoke a sense of rural America. Even without the title, the painting takes the viewer to a home-like place, a time when life was a little simpler and less hurried. The elements of the painting are few and common to every household: a chair, four apples, a knife, a bowl and a towel. By limiting the number of objects, the artist is able to turn her focus to the composition and textural elements. It’s amazing what can be said with just five objects and a strong value plan!
Cheryl uses texture to convey the details of the scene. The glossiness of the apples conveys the freshness of the fruit, activating the senses, as we remember how apples feel, sound, taste and smell. This freshness contrasts nicely with the weathered tin dish, threadbare towel and worn wooden chair, things that have been well used many times before. The texture of the chair captures both the chipped paint and weathered wood, as well as acting as a record of its use. The contrast between the new apples and used household elements provides a variety of textures, and connects the present with the past, which is the basis for the narrative of this painting.
The limited color choices support the simplistic presentation of the concept. The reds and greens of the apples are natural complements, but the red and blue-green of chair carries this theme (loosely) into the rest of the painting. This blue-green provides a nice transition into the rich dark blue background, the unifying color of this composition. This blue background is the darkest value, to which all other values and colors are compared. Cheryl has punctuated her painting with this dark blue to give it the pop it needs to create visual interest and help move your eye across the composition. You can find these dark blues in the bowl of apples as well and in the shadows of the towel and the seat of the chair. The dark blues in the shadows provide depth and contrast, as well as help unify the painting and provide the framework for the light to cross the painting as it skips the shadows and hits the highlights.
Quick note: Cheryl and I had a great discussion about finding one’s artistic style. I think Cheryl’s ability to capture a narrative is key to her quest for finding her style. Great paintings combine a masterful use of materials AND a message to convey.
You can see more of Cheryl’s work on her website at cherylmetzger.com. Scroll down to see how you can have your artwork considered for an upcoming art critique.
As group publisher of F+W Media’s fine art community, Jamie Markle oversees the development of fine art magazines, books, videos and websites.
Want to receive a FREE art critique?
Send a link to your website or 6-8 lo-res images to [email protected] with the subject line “Jamie’s Critique Corner.” If your work is chosen, we’ll be in touch (please do not send follow-up emails). Chosen artists will receive a thank-you gift.
For a more in-depth art critique that includes an overall evaluation of your artwork’s strengths and weaknesses and clear suggestions on how to move forward with your art, visit Artists Network University, where we have more artists on hand to critique your work.