Monday, March 19, 2018

Self Critique - Learning to Evaluate Your Own Work

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

A couple years ago I was ask to give a talk on how to critique your own work.  While I've been doing this for myself since graduate school I had never given too much thought to what that process was or how you might share this important information with other artists, especially artists who have not had this formal education.

Why critique?  The answer is simple.  If you don't look, compare, evaluate, ask yourself the question "what If?", how do you know how you are progressing.  What is the criteria for what is your best work?  How does your work hold up from all the other people working in your field.  If you say "Who cares?" then I would say you're missing out on a huge amount of information.

I love the process of working, stopping, sitting and looking at what I have done.  I like to leave a piece hanging in the studio and sneak a peek as I pass by.  Often I have the experience of thinking a work is finished only to find that after a couple of days I begin to see areas that still need attention and I would not have that opportunity if I don't taken the time to look.

All of this looking isn't solely intellectual.  Much of it is finding my way into the piece to see how it sits on my interior self.  Of course these sessions of looking don't just happen at the end of a work but occur all throughout the process of creating.

Generally speaking I don't ask many people into my studio when I am working.  The one exception to that is my husband Tom Dimond.  Tom is an artists and after all the years we have been married and worked alongside each other we have a great deal of respect for one another's work and understand that the creative process is delicate and that the artists needs space.  While Tom is willing to talk to me about my work it is at my invitation.

The creation of work is a process of decision making.  This is another reason to take your time and be aware to how you are feeling.  Staying in the moment and allowing your creative intuition to work for you is a wonderful thing.  Jane Allen Nodine shared that she tells her students  to "listen to the work.....what is the work saying to you?"  While the students find this humorous early on, they come to understand that this is about their intuition and how it is informing the work.

I began this project by asking a number of artist friends to respond to a series of questions.  Almost all of the artists who responded to my questions mentioned some form of studying or looking at their work both during the creative process and at the point when they are trying to determine if the work is finished.  If you don't do this I believe you would gain greatly by incorporating more looking into your process.

To be continued next week.
Thanks, Terry


  1. Thanks for this Terry! Truly the best, most helpful article on the subject of its kind!

    1. Thank you Janis. I'm delighted to repost and so happy my article is being read!