In writing a critique I try to look at several aspects of a piece – composition techniques and most of all at the over all effect. Let's face it if the picture tells the tale and tells it well then the artist succeeded.
So who am I to critique? I spent several years in drawing, painting, design and creative process class rooms both as a student and as a figure model. During that time I worked with Burne Hogarth and others at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA. So I have picked up a fair bit of knowledge even if my own skills are not that great.
The composition is two full figures with no cropping. A single light source illuminates them with hints of secondary sources – all “off stage”. Pillars, a wall and an arched gate form the background. The natural focal point is usually somewhere in the upper left hand quadrant (about in the location of the blond Leena's bust). The figures are holding hands but looking in opposite directions – away from each other towards their respective borders. Lighting is directly from behind the viewer, and can seem a little straight-on dull, except it is a spotlight! Which does quite a bit to grab the attention.
Without border objects or strong perspective elements drawing attention back into the picture the eye wanders a bit. The main focus falls on the larger left hand figure – which is fine if that is the intention - but gets lost in the color of her gown which in turn is a little lost in the background which has a very similar pallet of color and tone. So – I think the problem boiled down is the attention is first focused then dispersed. I will come back to that later.
What works in this picture is the posing of the figures and the rich detail of their outfits. Their expressions tell a tale here. The fact that they are holding hands and hurrying along but their attention is split adds the conflict, which adds to the tale. Leena is pulling Vania along while Vania's attention is suddenly drawn elsewhere creates a good sense of tension. The negative space formed by the peeked arch with the “V” of their arms (nicely echoed by the negative space “V” of their gowns) down to their held hands is a really strong aspect of the design. Another very good move as was placing their held hands almost directly in the center of the picture – this becomes a really strong statement.
As always your rendering is really well done, with exquisite attention to detail. I think you have all the elements to make this a very strong composition. If I may here is what I think would help make stronger.
Push the backdrop further into the background. Play with the depth of field a bit, lose some of the background detail and focus more on the subjects. Alternatively put them in between the forward set of pillars right in front of the archway, framing them would help do the same thing.
If you swap their placement so the larger figure is on the right (still leading of course) then the picture gains some balance - The larger figure, Leena, still draws the eye but that “natural focal point” on the left gives Vania a boost. Try a horizontal flip of the image and see. You could still keep them looking in the directions they are looking now with Vania looking to the right of the picture behind Leena's back with Leena focused to the left and ahead.
You may also want to play with the pallet; either of Leena's dress or of the background, more contrast will draw the viewer's eye. Though to be honest, I would first try it without changing her dress, just work the background to bring the focus more firmly to the figures.