The one thing about this project which was both a positive and a negative was how much better I got at painting as the project went on. Positive, because I was improving my skills so quickly but negative because as I improved I became more aware of my issues with the previous paintings.

I chose this crystal to paint first as I felt it'd be one of the easier ones. Its texture gave me lots of useful reference points during the sketching/painting stage. However, I was unhappy with the painting I'd done, so I played about with it on Photoshop a lot to fix the problems I saw in it. Although this produced a nice digital outcome, upon speaking to critical audiences, I felt that the value of the illustration had decreased as the original painting had lost its 'aura'.

I disliked the second painting more than the first, and this time I fixed it digitally in a different way. I used Photoshop to have a more precise idea about what colours I was looking at in the crystal. It was a lot more brown than expected. I used this information and added an extra layer to the original painting. Although I still dislike the painting because it's hard to tell what it is, I feel that the trade off between the strength of the meaning and its value was something I had to do.

I felt that picking out the colours in this way was really beneficial to my illustrations, so I did it again on the next painting. As we can see here, I used a lot of blue when there was nearly none in the original crystal. Even on personal reflection, I have no idea why I did this and how I hadn't noticed it before.

For the next painting, I picked out the colours before I started. That said, these ones were a bit more obvious, but I suspect that was only because at this point I was paying closer attention to detail. After 'fixing' the other paintings, I had also noticed that having at least two layers in the illustration added a depth to it that was useful when trying to portray this kind of object.

Seeing the impact that using software to understand my object before painting was having to the quality of my artwork, I moved a step further. I remembered using the posterise function for the 400 Years of Shakespeare project to get a more precise understanding of the shapes of the figures I was illustrating, and I wanted to see how that would transfer into this project. Based on this painting alone, I think it helped a lot, even if just because it gave me more confidence in my actions as I was running out of time.

Although I feel that my painting improved a lot during this project, I feel that there's a long way for me to go. The reason I've been using acrylic paint rather than oils is due to the eczema on my hands, and I became increasingly aware of the disadvantages of acrylic paint as I progressed through this project. Moving forward I want to try using acrylic retarder so I can mirror some of the more useful properties of oil paint. One of my tutors also suggested painting onto a grey or brown background rather than white, and I'm interested in seeing what impact that has one my work in the future.