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Old 09-13-2009, 04:28 PM
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Use to denote nudity/mature subject matter Re: Figure Forum Guidelines: If you don't want critiques, let us know when you post

Posted somewhere is a blurb with suggestions on how to critique, which, I believe includes not attacking the artist. Most of the good critiques I've had deal with what seems to work and what doesn't seem to work in a piece. This can be done with the "sandwich" approach: Find what works, and comment on it, find what doesn't seem to work and comment why, find an encouraging comment for the artist.

Yesterday, and fellow plein air painter and I were critiquing one of my paintings hanging in a wine tasting room gallery. I was uncertain about the believability in a section of a figure--something I'd struggled with while painting it. She was commenting, trying to help me figure it out. In the process we began discussing where the shoulder blade intersects with the arm pit, and I was poking around her shoulder blade and shoulder, measuring, to try to judge what I'd done wrong.

Watching this interaction were a couple tasting wine, both with raised eyebrows. I tried to explain to them what was going on, that we weren't in the throws of illicit public fauning. This drew them into the discussion. The fellow commented that he was instantly drawn to the area we were discussing because he thought it was incorrect. So we got his input, which turned out to be a light issue (the contrast in this area of the figure was too great and incorrect for the direction of light). After more measuring and discussion his wife/girlfriend asked if we were artists. Lori, my friend, who also happens to teach art, and I looked at each other, then at the couple and said, yes. I could see the next question coming: do you know the artist who did this? I grinned and said yes. Lori said, she is. The guy went silent. Then he perked up and said he didn't mean to be negative. I said, you weren't, and if I had told you in the beginning I was the artist, I may not have gotten some valuable information.

He was still backpeddling and went into what he liked about the painting. His girlfriend started commenting on the others. I was having a grand time. Finally the girlfriend said to me, you take negative criticism very well. I reiterated that I didn't think it was negative, and that I was very capable of giving critiques, and thought I should be able to take them as well. It took a few more minutes to get the idea through to them that they were making very helpful comments, not negative ones, and I invited him to come back anytime to help me with my paintings. They left smiling. Lori and I were grinning. We knew.
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Last edited by Sonni : 09-13-2009 at 04:31 PM.
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Old 09-14-2009, 05:18 AM
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Re: Figure Forum Guidelines: If you don't want critiques, let us know when you post

Thats a really good attitude Sonni
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Old 09-14-2009, 02:44 PM
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Use to denote nudity/mature subject matter Re: Figure Forum Guidelines: If you don't want critiques, let us know when you post

Not all work needs to be critiqued in the Figure Forum the critique rule was kept for people learning the figure as most of us are, not necessarily for established artists or professionals confident of their own ability and direction.

However all public works are open for discussion and comment unless specifically asked not to and then one has to wonder why show a lively bunch like us your work if you just want passive viewers? Isn’t it better to put a link to your web site instead?

The idea was to keep the figure forum as an active learning forum for those who wanted to master the figure in a no nonsense way. The point with the critiques was to reveal the weaknesses in the work so they could be corrected. They are negative critiques with the positive outcome of opening our eyes a little wider in order to build skill. As opposed to passive learning where no such feedback is given on the artist’s efforts.

There are two kinds of critique in my view.

1) The skill building critique. The simple exposure of the discrepancies between what the Artist has drawn and what is seen or known about the figure according to the canons of Western Art illusion making. Its not about you its about the work.

2) The Social/Cultural critique. A more complex cultural discourse on the work by the objective historical conventions in art making and design that have come to us from centuries of human art production.

There is recognized in nature and humans an aesthetic order/design and most of Art History is the investigation and discovery of that design/order. Your work can be judged and assessed according to the aesthetic conventions of the past and present. When you make an aesthetic piece available to others you enter into the discourse of art just because you are ignorant of that discourse doesn't mean you can escape its scrutiny or not be judged by its standards. However this type of critique rarely occurs here in this forum.

And then there is Kudos which has its own merits.

Until the rule changes if you don't want a critique say so in your first post.

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Some Quotes to think about.

Vasari asked the question “Why it was in Florence and not elsewhere that man became perfect in the Arts?” Gave as his first answer “The Spirit of criticism:
The air of Florence making minds naturally free not content with mediocrity.” (Kenneth Clark.)

The whole process of atelier training is one of critique (Kurt Anderson)

Nothing is more apt to deceive us than our own judgement of our work. We derive more benefit from having our faults pointed out by our enemies than from hearing the opinions of friends. (Leonardo da Vinci)

You learn more from a critique if you are given negatives rather than positives... "You have a nice painting. I think you have succeeded," tells a student nothing... (Annette Waterbeek)

Over and over again did the Attorney-General cry out aloud, in the agony of his cause, "What is to become of painting if the critics withhold their lash?" (James Abbot McNeill Whistler)

Culture is only true when implicitly critical, and the mind which forgets this revenges itself in the critics it breeds. Criticism is an indispensable element of culture. (Theodor W. Adorno)

A good friend who points out mistakes and imperfections and rebukes evil is to be respected as if he reveals a secret of hidden treasure. (Buddha)

Worship the spirit of criticism. (Louis Pasteur)

The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism. (Norman Vincent Peale)
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Old 09-15-2009, 04:20 AM
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Use to denote nudity/mature subject matter Re: Figure Forum Guidelines: If you don't want critiques, let us know when you post

Sonni, Mike, and Oz,

You all make good points about the value of critiques. But I would like to bring up a couple of opinions and observations.

* I find unsolicited advice pretentious, regardless of quality of the advice.

* I think the point of being an artist is being an artist and not a craftsman. Part of acquiring the skills to be an artist is to express what makes you tick - meaning you have to spend a great deal of time introspectively figuring out what you want, and why. If you have the ability to please yourself, you have arrived as an artist.

* Thinking that artists need to tough out criticism, gives very short shift to how fragile the act of creation really is. Making art is like making love. Imagine offering unsolicited advice correcting the weight, coordination, appearance of your lover. No love making tonight. Artistic creation is fragile, and it should be handled with genuine respect, care, and joy. Treating it like a craft, and taking the role of correcting what is "wrong" with others' work is self-center ego boosting.

* People learning art, especially young people, rarely know with confidence if they are learning the right tools and from the right teachers. I think it is great for them to be highly suspect of advice, take in knowledge carefully, being lit by internal light bulbs along the way. Encouraging them to tough it out, and accept every Tom, Dick, and Harry's advice is not wise. This is one of the key reasons that I dislike unsolicited critiques.

That said, I think it is wonderful if student artists can find trusted teachers that enable them to better express themselves.

Michael
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Last edited by Newberry : 09-15-2009 at 04:54 AM.
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Old 09-16-2009, 12:01 AM
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Use to denote nudity/mature subject matter Re: Figure Forum Guidelines: If you don't want critiques, let us know when you post

Well, Michael, since I'm close to being older than dirt, I guess I can weed out what I think is valuable and what I think isn't. Also, I've gone through the degree system, which included not just studio art, but art history, and I suppose something in that has given me a base from which I can extrapolate good and bad advice. But for what it's worth, some of the most eye opening opinions I've had came from non artist tpyes.

I don't see"criticism" as toughing it out. Maybe I'm just not that fragile and I figure if what is said doesn't kill me outright, it will just make me stronger. Whether it will make me a better artist probably depends on a lot of things. And I've yet to have an orgasm while painting. At my age, I'd welcome that novelty, believe me. I agree that the act of creating art should garner genuine respect. Care and joy enter into it as well, but so do frustration and anguish and indecision. Wayne Thiebaud now in his 80s, and from whom I took classes at UC Davis, has said a very interesting thing recently--I think in SW Art Mag. He doesn't call himself an artist, but a painter, and refers to the masters such as Rembrandt, Michaelangelo, et al, as the reason why he does. Now, that's getting beyond ego. Everytime I think of Wayne's attitude, I'm humbled--something for me, not being the humbling type.

So, while I respect your opinion and your art, I tend to disagree. Critiques are valuable for most of us.
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Old 09-16-2009, 06:42 AM
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Use to denote nudity/mature subject matter Re: Figure Forum Guidelines: If you don't want critiques, let us know when you post

Michael, for crying out aloud WetCanvas is not an elite club for the cognoscenti it’s a public forum and any member has the right to comment and are encouraged to comment on each others work whether they are an artist or not and whether we like it or not. Comments are solicited by the very nature of the forum. Your statement is kind of unreal given people are encouraged to post and make comments on each other’s work. What do you want, a forum where people just post their work and have others view it passively like a gallery? You can do that already on Flickr and other Internet sites like that.

Maybe for some the point of being an artist is some mystical navel gazing about self-discovery. Historically all great artists and lesser ones worked for others not themselves no matter the inner motivation. Your comments remind me of the sixties and the hippy days. Are you as old as me?

I make art; I am not what I make. There is an ontological difference; by your definition just “being an artist” is enough to call yourself an artist without any production. People are more than their occupations or interests. A good artist will use all means at their disposal including craft if it is needed. The argument for the separation of craft from art is specious. You cannot play a piano or a guitar or any musical instrument without learning the unique technique applicable to the instrument. Same with art that depends on imagery. Every artist needs to understand the medium they are using to use it effectively.

Quote:
Artistic creation is fragile, and it should be handled with genuine respect, care, and joy. Treating it like a craft, and taking the role of correcting what is "wrong" with others' work is self-centred ego boosting.
Given that people and artists do have egos would you say ‘all’ correction is self-centred ego boosting? Are you saying that any attempt is the right attempt? That there are no qualitative concerns on what a person produces? Personally I think you are trivializing help given to others you seem to make art unteachable. It takes years to draw the figure realistically and it’s very hard to do it on your own without input from someone skilled in what you want to do. What is your problem with that, what do you suggest as a strategy then for someone who wants to learn to draw the figure?

Art has a structure and anything with a structure can be taught and learnt even creativity, ask Edward De Bono about that.

When we look at all the creative ideas and objects that have come out of human history, fragility, is not a word that comes to mind. You are the only person I have read that talks about the fragility of creation. All of human life is fragile we die so easily. Life is precarious we should treat it with respect, care and joy. We have to tough it out to survive, lived experience teaches us to tough it out let alone some criticism of our work.

Art is the visible expression of an idea through a medium whether it is a play, a book a song a movie or a painting etc, ideas are not fragile they are very hardy and sometimes dangerous things. The made object can be fragile, paper for example however the idea behind it is very indestructible.

“Art is like making love” Come on get real! Making art and making love are two very different activities unless there is something I don’t know? Is making love part of your working method? A bad choice of metaphor in my opinion. I agree with your point that students should be suspicious of teaching and advice they should critique all of it and not accept things uncritically but doesn’t that make them self-centred ego boosters?

Wasn’t it a little boy named Tom, Dick or Harry, I forget now, who pointed out the emperor was wearing no clothes?
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Old 09-16-2009, 12:52 PM
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Use to denote nudity/mature subject matter Re: Figure Forum Guidelines: If you don't want critiques, let us know when you post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonni
Maybe I'm just not that fragile and I figure if what is said doesn't kill me outright, it will just make me stronger...And I've yet to have an orgasm while painting.

Sonni,

I can't help but see the connection between your encouragement to take on all criticism and that you haven't had "an orgasm while painting."

Michael
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Old 09-16-2009, 01:22 PM
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Use to denote nudity/mature subject matter Re: Figure Forum Guidelines: If you don't want critiques, let us know when you post

Quote:
Originally Posted by ArtistOz
Your statement is kind of unreal given people are encouraged to post and make comments on each other’s work. What do you want...?

I understand that but this is primarily a figure forum. The criticism issue is merely something tacked on.

Bill I read your post carefully. After thinking about it I doubt our perspectives are compatible.

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Old 09-16-2009, 03:19 PM
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Use to denote nudity/mature subject matter Re: Figure Forum Guidelines: If you don't want critiques, let us know when you post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Newberry
Sonni,

I can't help but see the connection between your encouragement to take on all criticism and that you haven't had "an orgasm while painting."

Michael

Both require undivided attention. Now, please behave yourself or that respect you like will surely disappear.
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Old 09-16-2009, 03:59 PM
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Use to denote nudity/mature subject matter Re: Figure Forum Guidelines: If you don't want critiques, let us know when you post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonni
Both require undivided attention. Now, please behave yourself or that respect you like will surely disappear.

Sonni,

I don't mean to be cryptic or rude. In truth I feel a great deal of empathy for artists' struggles and passion, with no patronizing intended.

I have been now painting everyday for over 40 years - and at some point everyday while painting I feel variations of exaltation - ranging from goose bumps on my arms to a sense of synergy of my body, thought, sight and the outer world.

This feeling is what attracted me to art at 11, and remains the most important part of being artist for me today. There is an American spiritual, This Little Light of Mine, which names the feeling very well. I have never taken this feeling for granted, and I don't consider it a "novelty", rather I think of it as the core of the creative process.

I don't think I am unique in experiencing this, and I believe many artists understand exactly what I am talking about.

Far too many people are attracted to the passion of artists yet want to tell them what they should do with their art, and far too many artists accept criticism - instead of doing the really much more difficult work of discovering, cultivating, nourishing, and protecting their unique individual vision.

Michael
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Old 11-19-2009, 08:07 PM
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Use to denote nudity/mature subject matter Re: Figure Forum Guidelines: If you don't want critiques, let us know when you post

I am teaching myself how to paint, with the help of the many gifted that lurk (?) here. I like having my work critiqued because that is how I learn. i have had a bad experience however and from someone that should have known better. This person just tore a painting up, and yes there were several things wrong with it, and I did ask for a critique. There was nothing helpful in what he said, all negatives with no suggestions on what could be done. I was very new and almost gave up except for the input of others after it happened. My point I guess is that if you are critiquing someones art, keep in mind that they need some positive feedback as well as " constructive criticism.
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Old 12-26-2009, 02:23 AM
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Re: Figure Forum Guidelines: If you don't want critiques, let us know when you post

I could go on and on about critiques; I'm and ex-commercial artist having done mens,boys and woman's fashion illustrations, story board art and opened a successful retouching studio. I've worked for some of New York' best advertising agenecies. There were times when I felt like grabbing someone by the neck and shake them until they'd cry; I felt like this because they were downright rude; For the most part I like my fellow man, but I've been critiqued to exasperation and I'd rather not deal with it anymore. Someone once ran a ball point through a fashion drawing I did and I wound up loosing the account. I could write a long story of my experiences and that of some of my friends but.................I hate critiques.
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Old 12-26-2009, 02:42 AM
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Re: Figure Forum Guidelines: If you don't want critiques, let us know when you post

I'm a former commercial artist and have absolutely no need for critiqes; I've had my share of rudeness; however may I offer just one criique of my own; Most people don't know what they're talking about anyway and are'nt qualified to judge.
The ultimate critique I suffered was when someone ran a ballpoint pen over a fashion drawing and I lost both control and the account ; that being said I offer an unequivocol; NO!
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Old 12-26-2009, 03:21 AM
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Re: Figure Forum Guidelines: If you don't want critiques, let us know when you post

Hey! Giancarlo you doubled doodled, Oh, well;
Another thought, We do have a Critique File, do we not? I got kicked in the groin there once and slapped another time.
Wet Canvas is indeed a great site, not like any other.
We all have diverse agendas.so let's have fun. We're lucky insofar as we can draw and paint. It's a great place to learn, I've picked up a few ideas here myself just by looking and listening.
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Old 01-03-2010, 07:08 AM
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Re: Figure Forum Guidelines: If you don't want critiques, let us know when you post

This forum is a place to develop those skills, how to give advise, and how to receive it even if it is bad. An artist needs to have a strong yet sensitive skin.
Mike
Liked your input Mike; well said but disagree with the statement above.Why should an artist have a sensitive skin, they got enough problems
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