I recently finished a series of paintings that I’ve been working on all year. Intimate Spaces – Beach Series, focuses on my observation that beach goers often stake out their territories – putting up tents, setting up the umbrellas and lawn chairs, bring out the coolers – and then for some reason think that they are magically invisible if they’re in their little plot of sand. They’re not, of course. The artist / observer can see them. Guess I’m somewhat of a voyeur.
I planned out this set of paintings in early January and have been diligently working on them throughout the year. The smallest is 16 x 12 and the largest is 50 x 34. By the end, I’ll admit to being pretty tired of painting sand and sun and sea.
So, now that they’re all done, I can sit back and relax, right? Nope, now comes the proofing process, something akin to allowing bread dough to rise. I’ve been going through them one by one, looking for mistakes and omissions. But this is the time ask a trusted colleague to view them and give me some feedback. To get a critique.
Lest you shudder at the thought of someone criticizing your work, let’s be clear; there is a big difference between a critique and criticism. A critique is designed to evaluate the attributes of the artwork, not the artist. Criticism is often much more personal and tends to evaluate the artist. A good critic knows the difference.
So what does a good critique do?
- It gives the artist an outside perspective, presumably in an objective manner.
- We are often too close to our work and can’t see glaring mistakes. A good critique will often point out flaws. This could be in composition, execution, unclear passages, whatever. Some critics will make helpful suggestions but it’s up to you whether you wish to incorporate them into your artwork.
- Or a critique will evaluate that you’re hitting what you’re aiming for. Yay, you!
- Did you the you accomplish what you set out to do?
- Finally, distance yourself. You are not your artwork, no matter how much sweat and effort you have put into it. It is still up to you to decide whether or not to take any suggestions and make changes.
Many art schools and colleges will have group critiques, usually led by the instructors or the students themselves. However, if you are beyond this, you should seek out someone whose opinion you value. We work alone so much that it’s helpful to touch get an objective, outside opinion. The whole point is to help you improve as an artist.