Olives, Oranges, Ginger Jar

Just finished. Oil/linen, 9x12 inches.
Any and all thoughts welcome.


lovely work. i love those olives!

Thank you Bryan! I love painting jars of olives… it’s like eating potato chips… one right after the other after the other…

Wow, wow, wow—what a great piece Jeff. Wonderful sense of light and atmosphere. Bravo!!!


Thank you Anthony!

Since we are in the critique corner, are there any issues that you found significant difficulty with Jeff?

Hey Anthony,

Sure - the one thing about this piece I could not get to work to my satisfaction was how the center orange sat in the picture. I spent a lot of time adjusting the edges - especially the left edge - but I just couldn’t get it to convincingly occupy the space the way I wanted it. At one point I hardened the right edge thinking that might do it. Then I tried giving the edge some rhythm between hard & soft, but that also didn’t work to my satisfaction. I’m on a tight schedule with these pieces so eventually I declared victory and moved on.


Interesting Jeff! When you say occupying the “space” in regards to edges, do you mean depth (how far back/forward relative to the rest?)

Hey Anthony,

Yeah I suppose that is the crux of the problem. All of the other objects sit convincingly in the picture space (at least to me), but that orange has too much of a “pasted in” look. Looking at it more, I think part of the problem was the label on the right-hand side of the olive jar. This seems like it created visual noise at the edge with the central orange, and I just couldn’t get the contrast I wanted, so the orange just doesn’t have the right relationship with the objects around it.

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just perusing this at lunch, and while i’m no expert i’d agree with what you’ve identified jeffrey-- the left edge of the orange and that label on the olive jar leave a little too much going on right at that meeting point that is visually distracting, even if it may be accurate. i feel like it may be due to the color there or just the compositional proximity – what i think is an olive on the sticker seems to want to both be part of the jar, and part of the edge of the (closer) orange at the same time, thereby linking two objects that are supposed to register at different depths.

that said, in general viewing i’d be way too distracted by the commanding beauty of the olive jar and the vase to even notice it, except on extremely close scrutiny, and i didn’t really notice it until you mentioned it.


Thanks Bryan, that was a thoughtful response. I think we’re all pretty fired up about constantly improving our work and producing the very best paintings we possibly can, yet there’s also the judgement call that we have to make as working artists that it’s time to move on to the next painting. That tends to be my approach - to analyze weaknesses I can see in my own pieces and then carry those lessons forward into making better paintings tomorrow. I’ve always found diminishing returns in lingering too long over a complete or nearly complete piece, unless I was really trying to master something new.

As it happens, this painting sold today to one of my regular collectors, and she LOVES LOVES LOVES it. I think it’s great perspective to consider that the defects (and strengths!) we see in our own work may not matter so much to those who seek out our art, and that people react to our art for their reasons, not ours.


I really like the painting. Especially the vase with the blue pattern and the reflections. Very well done!

I didn’t notice anything strange about the middle orange or the olive jar label until you guys mentioned it.

I like how the objects on the left are connected with those on the right by the overlapping of the knife blade.

Strong painting in my eyes.

Really great painting Jeff!!! Love the olives!!! I also like your composition. I would agree with Bryan. I don’t have a problem with any of it. But, if I were to be knit pick, I would say the edge of orange and jar distract my eye with the light label or reflection. I am not sure what it is and it does not matter… I can understand why you did that…the rounded forms against a rounded form (the orange). Maybe sharpening the edge of the orange on that left and rounding it out more on the right by dropping the value so it doesn’t look pasted as you indicated. I just love the colors and texture and it is very minor what is bothering you!

that was my first thinking as well. Lower the value on the right…I think that will work.

Thank you John! Much appreciated

Thank you Nanci! The big lesson I’ve learned from this piece is the difficulty in establishing important edges against noisy backgrounds. I will no doubt be more sensitive to this going forward

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The last painting and this next one I’m in the midst of is very busy. Paul McCormack was one of my portrait teachers. He does patterned snd complicated backgrounds sometimes, so he always told me it’s the values and the edges. Look at Jeremy Mann’s loose complicated textured marks. It’s all about those two:). You are a fantastic painter and whether any of us choose loose or tight, it’s the above with a great design. You have it going on dude and it’s why I like Tony’s compositions as well as the above! :peace_symbol:

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One of your very best! Really gorgeous.

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I agree Sandra! I think this one is hard to beat~~~ :slight_smile:

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Thank you Sandra! Sorry I didn’t respond earlier - this is my first visit back here in a while. Much appreciated!