Chair of the Cecilia Beaux Forum
When I started painting again after a 35 year hiatus, very quickly, greatly to my surprise, my work was much better than it had been when I stopped painting in my 20s. One reason for this is, I am convinced, that I no longer had a teacher to tell me what and what not to do, so I had to critique my own work and figure it out for myself. That is a wonderful learning experience. However, it has its limitations. As the old saying goes, “He who treats himself, has a fool for a physician.” While we expand our own knowledge, it’s good to seek out others’ as well. Here are some things I find useful to think about in seeking critiques from others:
|Marie Gabrielle Capet, “Atelier of Madame Vincent (Labille-Guiard)” 1808|
Courtesy of the Women in the Act of Painting blog, written by Nancy Bea Miller
Why?Why do I want a critique?
• For praise, affirmation/approval?
• Or do I have a specific problem I want help solving?
Who?• If affirmation, whose opinion do I respect and value?
• If I have a specific problem, who would best have the experience with solving such a problem?
• Will the person I seek understand and respect MY work and not trample on my vision and try to influence me to paint like somebody else?
Where?How will I find such a person? Some places to look:
• Locally, who do I know and respect?
• In publications, whose work speaks to me?
•. In professional societies that have critique programs and vet the artists giving the critiques (The Portrait Society of America offers critiques for members)
• Faculty at workshops or art programs or artist professional societies and meetings
Prepare for the critique.
• Be clear about what help I want and need
• Be clear about the intent of my work – what I wanted to achieve
• Know whether I want technical help or help in clarifying my vision
• I will accept their comments graciously without becoming offended or defensive because I understand that I have asked for criticism and that may be exactly what I get.
• I will thank them for taking the time to look at my painting and for giving me their thoughts and ideas.