After the contest I was sort of exhausted, so I've kinda taken a bit of an art break. I've done a couple of things here and there, but nothing much. I wanted to examine my entry to the contest as best as I could and ask you guys for your opinions. So here I go.
As I said I was satisfied by this one, but I think that the reason for that was because all throughout the process I thought it was turning out terrible. Thus, when I finished (or at least came to the point where I had to turn it in) it wasn't all that bad, and so I was satisfied. Nonetheless, I don't think it's my greatest piece at all by far.
There's so much that was unrefined and sloppy, but I think it all comes down to the fact that I was doing something that I shouldn't have been: trying a new brush/style. For some reason, my dumb brain thought that I could do a picture with a brush with which I was unfamiliar (in fact, it was a custom brush and I changed it a number of times throughout the painting). I was also attempting to try a bit of a painterly style, which I've never really done before. I ought to have stuck with what I knew (a smoother, cleaner style) and if I had, I think I would have saved myself a whole lot of headache and worry.
As to the painting itself, there are a lot of lighting errors, such as the bucket, her cast shadow (and on that subject her self shadow), the way the light comes in through the window, the way the light catches on the candy cane firewood, her mop-handle, and the light on the lemon bunchy thing behind her. Along with the lighting, I was not really paying any attention at all to composition, so I'm sure there's a bazillion mistakes there. And on top of all that, her anatomy is probably way off.
So I think the key main thing is that I didn't start off well. I was trying a new style/brush, I wasn't looking at composition at all, I didn't at first have a color palette in mind, and I didn't really have a good direction. All of that made for discouragement, and while it turned out ok ish, I definitely don't think it was a great piece. If you have any thoughts, please please please let me know, because I want to turn what I see as a bad picture into a successful art experience by learning something from it.