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Old 01-22-2002, 03:15 PM
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Cafe Staff Cafe Staff is offline
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Thumbs up How to give a critique

Be sure to read this wonderful article written by our very own Henrik Lindberg.

You'll find lots of good ideas on how to express your feelings when giving a critique, and so much more.

Cafe Guerbois
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Old 01-28-2002, 01:10 PM
henrik henrik is offline
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If you have questions, comments, or indeed critique on my article, feel free to post here.
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Old 11-07-2003, 03:36 AM
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Originally posted by henrik
If you have questions, comments, or indeed critique on my article, feel free to post here.

Hi Henrik,
Your article is very informative and helpful. Many points you raise are useful to those of us that critique.

In your article you state: as a negative.

"Lack of originality - Presenting a trite subject that has been painted a thousand times before. "

Can you expand on this? I question only as I have seen poorly done original work selected in shows over well done work that "had been done before".

I wonder if we downgrade art solely on the premise that is has been done before. If we follow this bias then could we ever do a rose? Or a pear? Or if we did paint a rose, or would we have to have the rose balanced on a monkeys nose or some other drastic invention in the pursuit to remain original?

I ponder at the relativity of making originality or lack of, a negative. Certainly the pursuit of originality is a good thing. Art can grow from it. We as artists grow and mature from it. But beauty is beauty, whether it is original or not. I would rather see originality a positive and lack of originality a neutral. But certainly not a negative? That I should think less of a work that has been done before? Or even millions times.

by the way / a definition:

Lacking power to evoke interest through overuse or repetition; hackneyed.
Archaic. Frayed or worn out by use.
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Last edited by dudley_d : 11-07-2003 at 03:40 AM.
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Old 11-09-2003, 06:45 PM
henrik henrik is offline
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Hi, I will try answering that. Of cource it should not be interpreted as a requirement "to contain extrodinary elements of material and unusual effects of light" (to quote John F. Carlson). He continues...
"One need but look at the geat pricutres to discover that in these there is no straining for effect. The subjects are everyday, commonplace, but seen with an artist's eye and brain, and rendered without ostentation, technical or expressive. These homely objects and effects are made sublime in their transmutation, in the pasage from the artist's brain to the canvas. The large or the general thruths are convincing and great because they are commonplace and happen often. The accidental, sporadic, unusual, although of use, should not be painted just because they are rare. This would find an analogy in painting a man because he had a broken leg."
I.e. original to me does not mean extrodinary or bizarre subject matters.

Some obvious examples of trite subjects; elvis on velvet, fisherman with pipe (typically swedish kitch attached), dogs playing poker (us), crying children, paris street scene (typically with eiffel tower). These subjects are just dead and you almost never see these subjects except where kitch is sold.

Then we have obvious plagiarism of an artist's most famous work and style; van gogh swirly sky, cezanne type oranges, female portrait ala picasso. Only the truly naive plagiarises these.

Most of the really trite work are those that are painted using well recognized formulas (e.g. bob ross), sort of like paint by numbers without the numbers...

These are all obvious, the next level is harder to define. One attempt is to say "You should sing in your own voice", and "the more common the song, the more specially unique and pleasurable your voice needs to be".

A rose has endless possibilities.
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Old 02-24-2004, 08:12 PM
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ThinkInRainbows ThinkInRainbows is offline
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Re: How to give a critique

Originally Posted by henrik
If you have questions, comments, or indeed critique on my article, feel free to post here.

I wanted to thank you for such an array of useful information. I hope you don't mind but I printed it out.

This is a good thing for me to do to critique my own work AS I am creating it. There was so much there that I should be thinking more about.

thanks again,
Laurie Becker
"It is not what is unaccepted that bothers me as much as what is accepted." ~TnR
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Old 02-29-2004, 05:38 PM
henrik henrik is offline
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Re: How to give a critique

Printing the article is absolutely ok. I hope the information is used both as critiquing guidelines and a self-help checklist. A tip, if there is something in my article that is not easy to understand, or where I have been unclear, please feel free to ask questions. Many of the concepts condenced into the checklist are discussed in the composition and design forum.

Glad you liked it.
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Old 03-21-2007, 03:52 PM
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SlenderHope SlenderHope is offline
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Re: How to give a critique

I've not been here for very long yet, but thought I'd add my two cents' worth to the discussion of originality. I have to say that I grow heartily tired of originality for the sake of being original. For instance, in music, it sometimes seems that the more a-melodic a piece is, the more "original" and "innovative" it is considered to be. I've noticed in my purusal of these forums, that many people seem to consider blobs of color and squiggles to be "art". I just don't.

In any event, as pertains to originality, here are two quotes that spring to mind:

Eccleisastes: Nothing under the sun is new, neither is any man able to say: Behold this is new: for it hath already gone before in the ages that were before us.

and this from Edith Wharton:

Another unsettling element in modern art is that common symptom of immaturity, the dread of doing what has been done before.
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Old 05-06-2007, 07:13 AM
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Re: How to give a critique

this is very interesting to me as I have been trying to discover a signature of my own in painting, mine and only mine.
I think one problem with critiques is the tendency of the critic to impose their idea of what a painting should look like- their own approach to painting- whereas in fact what the artist has done may need no alteration, it is the artists interpretation and is unique in approach ( for example), How can critics guard against prejudice?
How can a an abstract be judged? whereas a more figurative paintings is easy to pick to apart ( perhaps that is why abstracts are so much favoured in the art world now- they are safe, who can prove what is right or wrong in them. Perhaps it would be interesting to look at how many critiques have been put after an abstract painting has been put forward?
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Old 05-08-2007, 06:01 AM
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LynnDigby LynnDigby is offline
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Re: How to give a critique

Certainly the person writing a critique is giving a subjective interpretation of what the art is saying to him/her. But if you accept the premise that art is a visual dialogue between the artist and the viewer, then this is a valid response, and sometimes a needed one in order for the artist to gain feedback on the effectiveness of his efforts.

This response is useful coming from any viewer who takes time to write it. But it is especially useful coming from a person who is also versed in the principles and elelments of design and the study of aesthetics. I find I absolutely treasure the opinions of artists working in the same medium, or working in a similar subject area because their eyes are used to dealing with the same issues. All responses are good. Some are more insightful for me as an artist. And even the negative ones ...especially the negative ones... get me thinking and push me to improve my work.

Critiquing abstract works is not much different than critiquing realistic works. Most all of the same issues apply with the exeption of how realistic the rendering of form is. The principles are the same, for the most part. I tend to not want too much theoretical context attached to a piece when I see it, but prefer to look at it as a free standing piece - and respond to it as such. Perhaps this is wrong. All art has context.

As far as "originality" goes, the term is used as a blanket condemnation of anything that isn't deemed new or different. But, just as we don't need to invent a new alphabet or language to write a new book or poem, we don't need to invent a new art movement to make something personal and valid.
Yes, portratis have been done before, but not my portraits. And I am not interested in making something "original" as my goal. I am much more interested in thinking about and exploring something that is interesting to me visually. I hope that the thing that draws me to paint my work is also conveyed to the viewer. It's not any more than that. It is a little tiring for me to think in terms of making something totally new as a goal. What's that? I'd rather just plod along and get lost in making stuff that fires me.

RE: critiques for abstract paintings. Look at this thread:
This was maybe not the best example of giving one, but it's one way of responding. There are others, and of course, different ways.

Predjudice is inevitable, I suppose. But if the critiquer can try to understand what the artist is saying, then this is a starting place. What has the artist done? Did he do it well? Was it worth doing?
L Y N N - D I G B Y
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Old 06-11-2007, 11:03 PM
henrik henrik is offline
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Re: How to give a critique

I think reading "original" as "not a copy" goes a long way on the path of originality
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Old 02-26-2008, 03:36 PM
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ThreeWolves ThreeWolves is offline
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Re: How to give a critique

In art collage I don't think once I ever got critiqued on composition or colore theory. The critique was allways about what was being said about the piece. The concept becomame more important in a lot of ways that the work itself. I did not learn how to paint 0r draw in art college, I learned how to write an artist statement and how to talk about the work in theory, not technical.
For me in the Psychic Automatism that I paint the matrix intermixes the images seamlessly, creating each as if done on purpose, as it was in thought. In two demensional form they can all be, like in this world as all the separate parts we are able to percieve can be and coexist at the same time in all it's multidemensionality.
Shaun ThreeWolves Gamache
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