I am laying a mat over this now to look at design elements. Light/dark values? Do the darks and lights "carry you through the painting?" The addition of the thrown shadows from the left of the painting helps to tie the the darks together I think. And the shadows the couple make tie them to the fence. The whites dance around through the painting nicely. The center of interest seems to have the best contrasts which is what I aimed for.
One thing that I usually critique myself is temperature..does the painting make a point of being more more warm or cool rather than balanced. I see this as high key and warm.
The one area I can't make up my mind about is edges. Usually I try to have balance of soft and hard edges. The trees and flowers do have softer edges while the people and architecture have harder edges. Gouache tends to have a "flatter" look about it than transparent watercolor. For some reason, to me anyway, that brings the sharp edges more into focus.
I left the corners on the bottom left and right white. I tend to have a bad habit of putting dark shapes into corners and drawing your eye away from the center. I wonder if anyone has a problem with those spaces?
In some ways I see this as an abstract of shapes and colors. I have reworked the shadow and shapes in the center of interest and behind the umbrellas several times. That is one of the nice things about gouache. Like other opaque mediums you can go back and layer and completely change a color or shape.
It seems as though, each time I paint something I have in my head that I am going to work on one or two things more experimentally. Either I am going to explore a new medium, or a new support, or a new tool, or focus on design more, or some of the other things I mentioned above. I keep "hoping" that by doing this eventually the critique will "internalize". I'll be able to keep all those things in the back of my mind somewhat unconsciously. (hahahaha...it's a goal anyway.)
This painting had a working title of "Out For Lunch" but am not liking it anymore. Ideas? It is 11 x 15 on Arches hot press paper.