I present American Values, a critique by Demonlover11 of Deviant Art AKA Nicole, and my response. I indicated Nicole’s comments in red.
As always~ Loving your work! (umm... I'm just a student so I don't know if it's worth much but I kinda got into a critiquing-mode when I saw this and couldn't help myself ^^; )
Look at you, all critique and stuff. BTW, are you out of high school now? Got any big plans for college?
It's kinda dark compared to most of your pieces but I like the underlying meaning and the perspective play; however, there is something about the heaviness of the foreground that dwarfs the background both in an way that I'm almost positive you did to emphasize your point about American values and also in a way that takes away a bit from the loftyness of the perspective and the holier-than-thou and superiority complex that seems to be seeping out of the man.
The foreground is heavy for several reasons, including the character's girth. ;) For one, it's close to the viewer and brightly lit, so the colors are more vibrant, the range between light and dark is more intense, and the details are clearer.
As for the character, personally I don't see him as acting superior. I read him as a man supplicant in his beliefs. He's proud of what this nation represents. That's my reading anyway. At this point, I'm just another observer.
Is that a single tear in his eyes?
While we're on the topic, here are two interesting opposing concept s of American exceptionalism:
(We're good because of the moral actions we have taken historically and continue to take.)
(We're good because God (by this he means a specific Christian god) made this country and us exceptional.)
The heaviness of that corner robs the piece of the effect of the man towering over his conquered lands. It's the dark and bold lines/colors of the man and the trash upon which he stands that interfere with the illusion of height and distance and the absence of middle ground to establish a strong sense of background and foreground...
I'm going to cut you off there for a second because you hit something I was having trouble with. I wanted the trash piles uniform in color and composition. This leads to a sort of sterility across the landscape that's only broken by the play of shadows and the value diminishing effects of atmospheric perspective. While this was true to my artistic intent for this picture, I found the lack of a dramatic break between foreground and background unsatisfying.
I've considered placing shadows over a large segment of the background to make the break between sections cleaner. Maybe I'll try it when I'm cleaning at in the folder on my hard drive, just to see how it looks.
As I was composing this response, Lindsay read over your comments and did a quick color alteration to a jpeg copy of the image. She focused on the foreground elements, and increased the red saturation among other things. Here's how it turned out. I actually like it quite a bit. I think I might have to apply some of these changes to the full scale image.
Also, I'm not sure you "need" a middle ground to establish a strong sense of foreground and background, but it couldn't hurt. :)
maybe continue the floating trash from the bottom right a bit over the rubbish heaps with the same chroma and intensity of the things underfoot to really draw into the perspective and show depth? It also might be that the horizon line is a tad high from his placement- although you do have mountains... so it's difficult to decipher- (Although I am on cold medication so it might be my eyes- and if that's what's wrong I'm so sorry m(_ _)m ).
I'd actually argue the horizon is a little low. Look at how his body is angled and find a point where the lines converge. I haven't done this, but I bet it's slightly higher than the current horizon, like somewhere around his shoulders. Either way, I don't think it's very important. Maybe I'll look back in a month and slap myself for f-ing up the horizon, but right now, it looks okay to me.
Get better soon, and thank you for the thoughtful critique.