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  #31   Report Bad Post  
Old 04-13-2006, 06:03 PM
Celeste McCall's Avatar
Celeste McCall Celeste McCall is offline
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Re: A Question on Critiques

Hi again,
I agree with Jean's quote below:

Quote:
Listing what works for you as a viewer might be just as helpful as listing what we would like to see changed in a painting.

When you tell a beginning student..."Oh, look how that light edge of the building that you have done next to that dark area just really brings it forward....way to go!"

If that is not teaching at it's finest, then I need to go back to school.

Most beginners start out copying other's work.

So, when I mean that a beginner doesn't need a hard critique then I am saying that when you point out what the original artist did so well in the original.....and that the student has accurately copied it....then there is no good that is going to come from a statement such as, "you didn't do it right, those darks are not dark enough...you didn't load your brush right. You will never be able to paint dark enough unless you load your paint brush after squeezing out the water!!!"

I've seen MANY a beginner china painter quit the classes over teachers that were like that. I have seen MANY MORE beginners that blossomed because of a nuturing teacher who pointed out gently what the student did right.

Or what the original artist did in the copy that the student is looking at and saying, "you know, when I want a darker color, I squeeze the water out of the brush and then load into the prepared wash."

Beginner artists are usually too busy trying to handle the brushes....mix washes....and paint and concentrate on filling in between the lines. It's my opinion that critiques of their work can be put off until they get much more comfortable at a stage when they begin to want their work to improve.

There is no doubt when an artist reaches this point because they move in the 'WHYS' which is a stage that signals that they want to learn how to make their paintings 'click'.

That 'why' will grow....it's addictive to the point of being rabid for those who go far enough with learning the why's.

Some students never get to the point of 'why', which is OK with me for sure. They are in the class to have fun and that's it. If they are having fun....and that's what they are paying for, then let them have fun for goodness sakes. They won't care if their work never improves. They are happy painting and many say, "I don't want to learn that '@#%^' anyway. I just want to paint." LET THEM HAVE FUN, I say. Why critique them ???

Just my thoughts on Jean's great quote.
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Old 04-14-2006, 03:09 AM
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Kate Mc Kate Mc is offline
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Re: A Question on Critiques

Wonderful summary, Celeste. I absolutely agree that the level and kind of critique depends on the level and skill of the student. Many many people just want to play with paint and color, and that's wonderful. I started out that way.

I also think that when an artist gets to a certain level (normally determined by the artist him/herself) they need to know not only what works, but what doesn't, and how to fix that. They usually know themselves when they get to this level, and start asking for critique, instead of saying something general like "what do you think?".

It's at this point that IMHO we do that artist a disservice if we only say what works for us, and not what can make it better. I personally think that's why we see some artists here who stay for a while, developing their skills to a certain level, and then either quit or quit painting. It's no longer satisfying when we know it can be better, but dont' know how to make it better.

In my watercolor classes, every fourth lesson is just painting--no new material, but a chance to consolidate and use the things we've learned in the previous weeks. The students take turns bringing a reference picture, and we have a lot of fun. At the end, we put a mat around their work and have a critique. The critique is structured, and follows this format:

1. Drawing--perspective, proportions, etc.

2. Composition--or, "mise en page", in French. Not exactly formal composition (these are beginners), but more like focal point, relation of objects to each other and in space, tangential lines, etc.

3. Color--which pigments were chosen and why, how well they worked for this applciation, etc.

4. Other techniques--scraping, masking, lifting, etc. Here's where we usually talk about the application of the previous three weeks' lessons.

5. What works about this.

6. What doesn't work so well--here the artist usually begins the discussion (to teach them to self-critique and so the others feel free to add their critiques) I should add that my beginners are always the harshest critics. They can only see the 'mistakes', and not what works well. They compare their painting to what they had in their mind, but the others see it for what it IS. This is an important lesson for them, IMHO.

7. How to make THIS ONE better--here we talk about corrections that can be made to this painting--lifting, glazing, knocking back, cropping, etc.

8. How to make THE NEXT ONE better--here we talk about how to avoid the problems in the next painting. This is always about PLANNING.

I should add that I always put my own painting in this critique too, and show them the problems that I have with it, and encourage them to see the problems in it. Then we correct mine, and they correct their own at home. Or not, sometimes. Because the artist can choose to accept critique or not.


This structure works for us, and even though it takes time, my students say that it adds a lot of value to the class. We laugh a lot, and it takes the fear factor out of critiques for them. So when someday exhibit their works, they won't be crushed by harsh criticism. They know how to see and laugh about their mistakes.





Kate

Last edited by Kate Mc : 04-14-2006 at 03:14 AM.
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Old 04-14-2006, 06:03 AM
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Re: A Question on Critiques

Too late to edit!

In #6, above it should read, "I should add that my beginners are always their own harshest critics"

That's better.



Kate
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Old 04-14-2006, 06:35 AM
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Thumbs up WHAT a GREAT THREAD MIKE!!!!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Olga
............. but I think it is healthier and more honest to point out a thing or two that could be worked on, rather than providing only undiluted praise....
Olga wonderful post!!

I do wholeheartedly agree with the above.

This is a learning art site and one can't learn on kudos' alone..

Mike terrific thread!!! Point from me too my friend!!
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Old 04-14-2006, 10:44 AM
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Celeste McCall Celeste McCall is offline
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Re: A Question on Critiques

Kate that's a GREAT post! Such valuable information that you wrote is a goldmine for teachers.

Now for the flip side of being a traveling workshop teacher:

I know a traveling teacher that used to take around 'don't' photos of other's works to workshops, and they tended to show how not to paint certain things as the artist had done. It was a good learning tool for some of us as the teacher would show us how to correct the mistakes and make the painting better.

Others thought that the teacher was rude in doing so. (I certainly didn't think so, though)

Maybe it takes 5 positives on what the artist did right to 1 of what they missed?

Just because the teacher saw things wrong with the paintings, didn't mean that they didn't like the painting's overall success. Some people took the teaching method in a wrong way though.

Unfortunately, since they didn't know the kind soul that the teacher was and how the teacher admired the paintings that were brought to use as examples, then they didn't ask him back to teach any more workshops.


Another famous traveling teacher told us to learn the 'do's'....not the 'don'ts'. She said that the 'do's' are easier because there are fewer of them.

Although I don't agree completely with her on that statement, it does take less time to teach the 'do's' and it's easier and faster,perhaps, for beginning students to learn them.

She gets booked over and over.

Then, again, there are even other traveling teachers, who by wit and charm and skill, get booked all the time by the same groupies who follow them around and who desire to be fed nothing except the 'don'ts'. They like the vinegar instead of the honey.

It's a good thing that art teachers come in all flavors.

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Old 04-14-2006, 11:11 AM
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Olga Olga is offline
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Re: A Question on Critiques

Quote:
Originally Posted by Celeste McCall
It's a good thing that art teachers come in all flavors.

It's a good thing all teachers come in all flavors...

And it probably takes a long time to get to the point where one trusts the teacher enough to know how critiques are meant!
This story has nothing to do with art, but I think it shows how delicate the situation can be. I once wrote "a bit dense" on a margin of my PhD student's chapter... She was devasted and came to tell me so... I was in total shock--and started to explain that all it needed was a bit more explanation and elaboration. It then turned out she had thought I called her not the passage "dense"...




Both Char's and kate's lists are great!


Olga
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Old 04-14-2006, 11:14 AM
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Celeste McCall Celeste McCall is offline
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Re: A Question on Critiques

Great post Olga....and certainly shows how the written word can be misinterpreted for sure. Thanks for sharing it. And you're right....all teachers come in all flavors.
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Old 04-15-2006, 08:55 AM
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Re: A Question on Critiques

Some interesting reading... right here on WC!

6 Techniques For Handling Criticism

Giving Critique - a Check List for Critiquers
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Old 04-15-2006, 09:50 AM
ameliajordan ameliajordan is offline
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Re: A Question on Critiques

This is a great thread!!! How to get constructive comments on the gallary isn't easy but I'm going to take the advice given. If someone says C & C I will assume they mean it and try to be helpful. If they don't, I'll assume they don't want it. If we follow this, folks who want the help will ask for it and expect more than just It's seldom that we don't see something that is good as well as something that could be improved.

I don't think we should get hung up on making comments if we aren't an advanced or professional artist - many can see what is needed better than they can produce it.

Also sometimes you get carried away on what you're trying to paint and forget the obvious - such as annoying tangents - until someone points them out. I think if someone is willing to take the time to look hard and comment it's a great favor.

Thread gets point from me too, Mike
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Old 04-15-2006, 10:12 AM
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Re: A Question on Critiques

I'm still following all the interesting discussion going on here. What hath Mike wroth! LOL!

Sylvia
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Old 04-15-2006, 04:44 PM
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Arrow Critiques and Comments

To clarify the posting guidelines for the Watercolor Gallery,
here is the explanation put in place during the last re-shuffling of the forum and sub-forums, and I quote from the main Watercolor page:

"Watercolor Gallery

Post your FINISHED artworks here. Critique and comments certainly welcome unless poster has specifically asked for none." [Bold emphasis mine.]

Instead of always having to ask for C&C, this provides an avenue for letting members know that you are either not interested in critiques and/or comments or that you don't deal well with critiques/comments that might be too harsh for you.

Do we need the Mods to re-phrase this again?

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Old 04-15-2006, 06:15 PM
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Re: A Question on Critiques

Hi Mike
I was always taught
Negative criticism is given by negative people and should always be ignored
Positive criticism is given by positive people and is always welcome
Arnold
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Old 04-15-2006, 07:56 PM
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Celeste McCall Celeste McCall is offline
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Re: A Question on Critiques

Wow, Arnold, that's the best advice I've seen for what should be ignored or welcomed. It's been a real treat to hear your opinions.
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Old 04-15-2006, 10:36 PM
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Re: A Question on Critiques

Quote:
Originally Posted by Celeste McCall
Wow, Arnold, that's the best advice I've seen for what should be ignored or welcomed. It's been a real treat to hear your opinions.

I heartily second that.
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Old 04-16-2006, 12:03 AM
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Lynn Quinn Lynn Quinn is offline
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Re: A Question on Critiques

Great thread, Mike, and everyone else! Very thought-provoking.

Just some possibly irrelevant tidbits:
1. I'm not comfortable giving critique if someone hasn't asked for it, as I'm not sure they know if they have to ask NOT to get it! (if this makes no sense whatever, sorry -- really tired!)

2. As a result of hanging out here for a while, I'm finding there are more and more different styles/approaches that I have come to like (even though they are totally different than mine), as I am exposed to more variety. So my comments might be very different than they would have been a year ago. (Not saying I've not always tried to be positive, but that I usually didn't/don't say much if a painting doesn't appeal to me.)

3. Lately I've hardly had the time to spend that I would like to, to look and respond to everyone's work. But sometimes I still want to give kudos when I really like something, even if I don't have the time to properly critique. Also, sometimes I love everything about a painting, even if it has broken a rule or two.

4. There have been occasions when I've tried to give thoughtful input on what could be improved, or even to ask a question about someone's work, only to have it completely unacknowledged. I'm certainly not expecting that the artist will necessarily agree with me, but letting me know they've read my
comment would encourage me to share an opinion in the future.

5. I have really enjoyed/appreciated all of the helpful critiquing all of you have given me! If I haven't adequately acknowledged and thanked YOU, then I do so now!
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