Self Critique - Learning to Evaluate Your Own Work - Part 2
This is part 2 of a series of articles I did several years ago. This a reader inquired about this article so I decided to repost.
One aspect of evaluating work which I spoke about last week was spending time looking at your work. I can't tell you how critical this is. Some of the artists who participated in this project mentioned hanging their work and looking at the work at a distance. This is good practice. Most good work will appear somewhat different close up or at a distance. If the work is large you have to get some distance in order to see the work with some perspective. A small piece presents an opportunity for a more intimite experience and may not be very engaging at a distance but until you hang the work for review you may not be fully aware of how the work will show.
Even after all this looking you may not be sure if the work is finished and you may just have to give yourself time to see the work with what I call "fresh eyes". These are the eyes that aren't "in love" with what you think the piece looks like or what you want the piece to be. The fresh eyes are more removed and more objective allowing you to see the flaws if there are any and the beauty or statement or attitude that you are seeking in your work.
It's kind of fun to hang the work and stroll by it pretending you are visiting a gallery or museum and seeing the work for the first time. Are you engaged? Does it make an impression? Does it require you to stop and think or does it give you the full story in one glance? Leslie Riley says she likes to question herself to make sure the work has met the criteria and objectives she establishes before she begins a work.
With all of this evaluation going on I was curious as to how many of the artists kept notes, journals or sketchbooks which might later be used to refresh their thoughts when a specific work was made. Here the responses were more varied. While some of the artists mentioned keeping technical notes or making sketches Kathleen Loomis revealed that she often writes about her work on her blog: Art With A Needle. She stated that while she writes about work in progress she does not post photographs of a piece until it is complete and often not until it has been accepted into a show. Her decision is based on the fact that if you show a picture of a work and mention that you are trying resolve some issue readers often want to comment and help you solve the problem. Kathy feels solving the problems is her job. I agree but appreciate her writing about her process.
More on this next week.