View Full Version : Johannes gets critiqued

Johannes Instructor
01-13-2000, 05:50 PM
I got this email. I thought it was fair that I let you guys in on this

"I think you did a diservice to the artist who painted this piece. You
took a beautiful impressionistic work and turned it into an ordinary
hallmark card look. There was nothing wrong with the layout as it was,
by the contrary, it spoke of quiet and worked as a whole.
I speak as a former art teacher at the School of Visual Arts in NYC and
a fulltime artist. When you change a work to fit your vision you aren't
helping but interfering."
Arlene Steinberg

Johannes Instructor
01-13-2000, 05:52 PM
I replied

"It's about time I get a reaction to my critiques. I have been expecting this and it was long due. The good thing about what you say will hold me back from going overboard in modifying someone else's work. I have always been concerned about influencing others with my own concepts. However; traditional art does look better when correct composition is employed. If one wants to be free and not be concerned about "rules" that's where abstract art and other modern art tendencies come in. I agree that we should allow the artist to express his own feelings. Fair enough would you say? When you taught art did you just allow students to create whatever they pleased and did not interfere to be on the safe side for style development or did you give them alternatives to improve their work? I don't have the student present with me to tell him, "Hey you may want to add some man made structure or animal to your painting to add interest" That's why I at least provide a second option by adding it so he sees for himself. If I had had the student next to me then I would've let him add his own elements based on suggestions. Instead of a barn it could've been an animal or any other interesting figure. I would at least offer alternatives. I feel many art teachers are too overcautious and are leaving students without many resources to reach the level they want to for the sake of letting them develop their own style. So they just stand there and let them work. Usually ending up in frustration and dropping out. This may be the best for serious art students who want to get into art full time but for the average weekend artist who just wants to paint from time to time and come up with something fairly decent, giving rules, etc will shorten the learning time and give him something to work with. Please answer this so that I can get your idea. Supposing you were in my shoes and you were to do a critique of that same painting at distance learning. How would you have handled it? The trees were not well drawn in the beginning. Surely you must agree that a round looking lollipop shaped tree is not very appealing and there wasn't really anything interesting in the original painting? Did you actually like the painting the way he did it? I felt it was quite amateurish? The artist probably wasn't convinced it was that good otherwise why would he send it in?
Honestly, I'm not trying to defend what I did but rather would like to see where you could be right?"

Johannes Instructor
01-13-2000, 05:53 PM
Then he replied
"Dear Johannes,
Thanks for responding to my critique of your critique. In most of the cases I
think your comments are very good. In most of the cases, especially the more
traditional pieces, your computer adjustments do enhance the artwork, and when
I've disagreed with you it was minor. However, in this case I didn't see the
work as traditional, but as a contemporary representation of a meadow with the
2 trees. If I am correct, then the addition of a house, tractor, etc. takes
away from the contemporary feel of the painting. (Look at some of Monet's
lesser works.)
You made mention of the rounded trees. There is a local, well known
contemporary painter, (his 1st name is David and I can't remember his last
name) and he paints "blobby" trees on a relatively sparse background. The
funny thing is I found the person who asked for your help having a more
pleasing picture than the well known artist. If what the person was trying to
do, was convey an impressionistic feeling, then I'd say that person achieved
it admirably. If the person is looking to paint like Thomas Kinkaid, then
yes, he failed. But why not just comment on the beauty of what was there,
instead of injecting a different idea into it. Even without the "focal point"
the painting holds together quite well.
You asked what I would do, when I taught. I taught flower drawing. I tend to
paint and draw very tightly. But, I understood and appreciate those who take
a looser and more abstract approach, and did not try to change their vision.
And yes, I'm a firm believer in rules in art. All of the greatest artists,
whether abstract expressionists, or realist or anything inbetween, first
learned the rules. And they know how to draw, contrary to popular belief.
I think with this painting the problem is, you think the work doesn't hold
together, and I think it does beautifully. Maybe what is needed is better
imput from the artists before a critique. This way you'd understand what he
was trying to do.
I now do bas relief paper sculpture, embellished with other things. My work
is representational yet I distort perspective and dimensions. I don't have a
URL yet, but I was on the cover of the January 1999 cover of Sunshine Artist
magazine and in the Insights column of the October 1999 issue of The Crafts
Report magazine."

Johannes Instructor
01-13-2000, 05:56 PM
Now I ask, What do you think?
The critique can be found at: http://wetcanvas.com/Critiques/LearningGallery/5.html

01-13-2000, 08:27 PM
I have a few thoughts on this.

The critique service has always been a free service
The critique service is currently manned by one person (Johannes), sometimes two, when Roger is available
We've set up a dedicated message forum, along with persistent image storage, so that folks can solicit other opinions (we've made this quite easy, if I may so so myself)

People submit works to Johannes in order to solicit *HIS* opinion, not anyone else's. Therefore, there is no room for complaining, especially given his overly fair remarks and suggestions.

Hats off to Johannes http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/biggrin.gif, and to any would-be critiquers, my challenge to you is to pitch in, and offer *YOUR* services to help Johannes in his efforts with our community of artists - of all levels.


[This message has been edited by scottb (edited January 13, 2000).]

01-13-2000, 09:00 PM
Hi Johannes..
ok, I'll be brave and be the first to reply http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif..

You did make major changes the piece..I like the atmosphere in the original I think I would have poked only a few holes in the foreground tree, but agree that the further tree was a bit round..and that another center of interest might have been suggested (I personally would have made it a young woman standing on the hill wearing a long pale classical style gown)..you might have opted for offering a few choices in that dept. I also liked the darkening you made in the foreground..
the degree of changes you made may be a matter of personal taste in art..also I am sure there is a time constraint on how much you can actually do, how much time you can spend on each piece you look at..how many choices or angles can you approach ..
overall i have liked your critiques, and I like the way you mention strong points and areas to work on..

I also agree that the casual painter probably could use all of the basic formulas to make things easier to begin with..having not had that myself I did experience lots of frustration, and only after so many years of reinventing the wheel *whew* am I now finally satisfied with some of my work, and feel that I have really made progress..

"The artist probably wasn't convinced it was that good otherwise why would he send it in?", while the artist may not have been completely satisfied with the work , they were probably not looking for a complete overhaul either ..

. "Maybe what is needed is better
imput from the artists before a critique. This way you'd understand what he
was trying to do."
I know that when one submits to these forums there is an area that asks the artist to make comments about the piece..
and if enough information is not provided you cannont know what they are seeking..

I think that possibly this persons style did not fit in with what yours, or your knowledge of art in general..still, it is a judgement call, and you did what you thought best at the time..

stepping off soapbox,

01-13-2000, 10:08 PM
The way I look at it is, the whole point of putting your painting in to Johannes is to get his opinion.
On the critique page the artist is asked to supply information for Johannes
Any information relative to your choice of materials (paints, brushes,colors,etc.), weather conditions (in the case of plein air work), lighting conditions for studio work, etc.Any thoughts you had while working on the piece. Insufficient info was probably supplied.
If you asked 6 artists then you would get 6 different answers,

01-14-2000, 06:18 AM
i have NOT seen the piece or the critique that this thread is about. i don't need to. so here is my critique of his critique of your critique of his critique that critiques your critique. a good teacher should be able to see the INTENT of the pupil immediately, size up the pupil's basic knowledge and give an opinion on ways to improve the art without straying from the pupil's goals,,,and in a way that the pupil will understand. this is addressing the student at their level. as an example here,,,,if an artist is doing a white on white still life, the teacher must address those issues rather than redoing the color scheme to his liking. composition and color are have no rules, and only time and familiarity with the pupil can allow for a deeper more inciteful instruction on color or comp.....milt

"he who thinks he know all and knows nothing is king in a kingdom of one,,,,,or a critic" - the kobe

[This message has been edited by bruin70 (edited January 14, 2000).]

01-14-2000, 01:24 PM
I agree with bruin70, it is however difficult to pick up the intent of the artist, especially in more amateurish paintings. A hint from the painter is of cource of great value - I wonder if Johannes would have made the same changes if the painter had noted that he wanted the painting to look like something made by Monet.

At the same time, the changes made by Johannes teaches everyone about how you *could* reason. I guess what I am trying to say is that if the artist wanted a Monet type picture the alterations made in this case was of greater value to the rest of us than to the artist.

Keep up the good work Johannes. If something needs to change it would perhaps be some more explanation to the submitting artist what can be expected.

01-14-2000, 04:19 PM
i think an influence of another artist would be quite obvious,,,especially one as unique as monet. and i would point out what monet did to be successful.

01-14-2000, 06:30 PM
bruin70, you are right in this case, I guess I was just trying to say something nice http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/wink.gif

Sometimes it may be difficult though. What is this http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/Forum21/HTML/000095.html
influenced by for instance?

[This message has been edited by henrik (edited January 14, 2000).]

irene clark
01-14-2000, 07:47 PM
Hi Johannes,
I'm not an art critic or a teacher, but I simply offer a humble opinion.
When someone sends in a painting for you to critique and you respond , it's up to the sender artist to weigh your comments and suggestions and use them as he/she likes.
That surely doesn't sound like interferring with the artist at all, to me anyways.
What is interferring, is the offering of a critique, like the letter you received, when one was not asked for.
Johannes, I think you're doing a very fine job. Your help is immeasureable and if from time to time some of us are not happy with what you have to say about our own work, then that's for us to ponder and no one else. After all we asked for it. Right??
Keep on stroking,
Irene Clark with a heart for art.[QUOTE]Originally posted by Johannes:

Phyllis Rennie
01-14-2000, 07:58 PM
I am new to this forum. I hope to soon send some of my paintings for an opinion. I was once in a class where the teacher never said anything negative about anyones work as she did not want to discourage anyone. I found that I could learn just as much at home by myself. I think the critique was excellent--if the artist thinks it missed the point, he is not obligated to follow the suggestions. Keep up the good work.

01-14-2000, 08:43 PM
henrik,,,,the immediate references would be to gaugin. but that is in theme only. here is how i would approach this critique..
that the artist has interest in realism.
that the artist has nice color sense.
and is not afraid to show it.
that there is work to be done with drawing skills.
and in regards to the post,,,the artist is a tentitive newbie with oils.
but if you read my reply there, i felt it important to touch upon only one issue at this time,,,values. proper value control is the bugaboo of almost every artist i see. yet it is the least taught of all disciplines. it is the hardest to learn. yet without knowledge of it,,, one's painting looks like mud. you'll notice, my critiques of almost every image posted at wetcanvas start with that of improper value control.
i would NOT touch upon the this artist's sense of color. it is fresh and appealing. let it grow. as i get to know the artist, i would guide him thru develoing the structured approach to values,,,how to use composition to emphasize a point of view, and try to find a medium and forum for this artist to best show off his skills and ideas.
if the artist had a strong kinship to gaugin, i would, i would show why I think gaugin is successful( not why OTHERS think he is). if there should be a blending of different styles, i would look for other artists to point this artist to. i think a teacher can do no better than to find a pupil's kindred spirit in art history, and allow that kindred spirit to reveal the pupil's soul.....milt

"he who thinks he know all and knows nothing is king in a kingdom of one,,,,,or a critic" - the kobe

01-15-2000, 05:26 PM
Ah, Gaugin - ofcourse. Why didn't I think of that.

Johannes Instructor
01-16-2000, 08:14 PM
Thanks for your feedback guys. I guess next time I will "correct" what I think is not right, suggest what would be missing and not just plunge in adding my own interests.
However the idea of a center of interest is better conceived this way for everyone else to see.

[This message has been edited by Johannes (edited January 18, 2000).]

01-25-2000, 11:51 PM
I think the point to putting up your work here is to get feedback from many people. Many people see things very differently. I also feel that the barn was a little too much. I hate barns, so I never paint them. Let the rest of the world paint barns! ban the barns! anyway.. I think that the painter should realize that sometimes critiques don't offer help. That's ok, because deep down it helps you realize when help is not help and can let you not fix things that some say need to be fixed.
does this make any sense to anyone other than me?
what I'm getting at is it makes you think about your composition from your standpoint and decide: is this what I want to express?
If someone digitally altered my piece, I'd be perfectly all-right with it because only *I* have the orginal and only *I* can make the final call.
I think it's great to see what someone else might do to your work. If that someone destroys it, it's ok.. it's digital! It allows you to re-evaluate your ideas and confirm your intent, if anything.
I like the first one best http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif

01-25-2000, 11:59 PM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Phyllis Rennie:
[B]I am new to this forum. I hope to soon send some of my paintings for an opinion. I was once in a class where the teacher never said anything negative about anyones work

I think peer critiques are the most valuable. Instructor critiques can sometimes hinder, depending on how strong-minded the artist is... (some of us are really weak, and others are like bronco bulls).

irene clark
01-26-2000, 07:45 PM
HI there!
Very well stated Kayemme. I agree with you whole heartedly, but you've expressed yourself much better.
I look forward to viewing your art. Soon ? Hope you gain as much as I have from this very fine art forum of fine artistic people. Who by the way all seem nice as warm apple pie with vanilla icecream. That's cause artists feel more and therefore express themselves better. Ya think ? By the way I have a very fine old barn done in pastels that you'll just love. eh?
Irene Clark with a heart for art.[QUOTE]Originally posted by kayemme:

[This message has been edited by irene clark (edited January 26, 2000).]