Monday, April 9, 2018

Self Critique - Learning to Evaluate You Own Work - Part 4

This is part 4 of  a series of articles I did several years ago.  This a reader inquired about this article so I decided to repost. 

Have you ever had the experience of having an amazing day in your studio where you feel you are on a cloud and can do no wrong then have a spouse, friend or the delivery man show up, see what you are doing and with one off-hand remark bring your world crashing down?  If so, you are not alone.  I have listened to more than one conversation where a person describes that they really like to work with with abstract compositions but their spouse doesn't understand them and prefers more pictorial work so that's what they do.  What!!!!  Who's the artist here?  If this is where you are in your art life you have a long way to go to fulfill your personal vision and make your best work.

We are all tender about our work.  At least in the beginning when we haven't established a direction or build our art muscles but off-hand remarks or disparaging remarks by people we love and or respect (such as workshop teachers or other artist friends) can be painful and potentially damaging.  We can shrink back from our inspirations and discoveries to safer ground never to venture to these ideas again.  So I asked the artists involved in this project: Do you allow other people to critique your work?  If so, who?  How do you decide who has this priviledge?

Jeanne Raffer Beck responded regarding serious, invited critiques and says, "Each person who has given me input on my work has provided a clue or key to some question that I have had. I realize that artists vary in their aesthetics, focus and ability to communicate ideas, so I do temper their critiques with the understanding that I am the creator and need to make my own choices."

Several people mentioned critique groups or groups of artists to which they belong as being sources of feedback.  Judy Langille says, " I belong to two critique groups.  Some of the people are very good at this and others are not that helpful.  I have been in one group for many years so I have a lot of trust in them.  One of my sons is a painter and he is probably my most thoughtful and helpful critic.  He has taken the time to understand my processes and is very helpful to me in evaluating my work.  I sometimes wait to see him before I continue on a piece."

Another participant, Christine Mauersberger, had a slightly different response.  She felt it was important to have people who know her area and are aligned to textiles or contemporary art.  She further stated that she did not want to waste her time with people who are not actively involved in some form of formal art critique in their own lives.  She explained that she waits for people she respects and seeks opportunities to have private conversations.

Another question I posted was, "How Affected are you by criticism of other people especially if it is coming from someone you respect?"  I want to remind you that all of the artists responding are professional and have been working for many years in their chosen fields.

Jane Nodine said, " I'm an observer and I always take things into consideration.  Most of that material is filed away in mind, and then it percolates to the surface in the work process.  Criticism by others is not something of emphasis for me because I have my own critical standards and I'm my hardest critic."

Leslie Avon Miller responded, "I can be blown off course by mean spirited or misguided criticism, so I don't invite just any old person to comment on my art.  I learned long ago not to expect my family to get it.  I try to be curious, very curious.  Why do they think that I wonder? But that only comes a few days later."

Others mentioned connecting with other artists on Facebook, blogs and people they have known for years and whose opinions they trust.

The most important thing is to hold your ideas and creations close until you feel strong enough to understand and trust your own feelings of the worth of your creativity.

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