Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Handling Critique

painting from critique
facing the wall for a week or more

How do you handle critical feedback? I attend a monthly critique and during that time I present one or two paintings to a small group of artists for their feedback and comments.

I used to feel much more attached to my paintings. They felt like "darlings" and I can say, I didn't like them to be criticized. I felt defensive and upset. Sometimes, in the early days, I would come home and immediately make changes to my paintings based on what I heard at critique.

I have come a long way, baby! I don't feel nearly so attached to my paintings. Probably because I have painted many more, so the overall importance of the piece being critiqued is less. One piece in 900 is different from one piece in 45.

Listening to feedback with a non-defensive attitude is not easy. But, it certainly allows others to say more about how they feel, what they see, what is not working, what is working. I like that. I kind of want to squeeze all of the available information so that I have it. I take notes.

Then, I come home and I put my painting away. Today I have stood it against the wall in the studio. I will leave it there for a week or more. Then, I will turn it back, and look at it with fresh eyes. I will re-read my notes of the critique comments. And then I can decide what happens next.

How about you? How do you handle critique? Is it helpful? Hurtful?


Nancy Van Blaricom said...

Great question Katherine. I love a good critique. An honest 'I'm only saying this too help you' kind of critique. I would much rather that kind than the kind that people tell me "oh, thats nice". The work may be 'nice', but I want to make it better and a "nice" comment doesn't make me try harder. I've always felt that way ... even from the start. Putting a painting away is always helpful to me.

Katherine van Schoonhoven said...

I am lucky to be a part of a very honest critique group. I'm also glad to be able to handle the honesty! Thanks for your comment, Nancy.

Celeste Bergin said...

If I respect the critiquer...I appreciate the feedback, but I DON'T like it when someone unsubscribes from my blog! LOL....!

Katherine van Schoonhoven said...

Oh, Celeste! You do make me laugh!

Pam Holnback said...

Critiques depend on the critiquer. At my Tuesday class, we can bring everything we've been working on all week and start the class w/ a critique. It's really helpful to have ongoing comments.

Katherine van Schoonhoven said...

Pam: you're so right (so is Celeste) that we have to consider the source before deciding if the critique is helpful or not. I have discovered, though, that sometimes non-art people give VERY helpful feedback on whether something is working or not. They might not be able to describe it in art terms, but sometimes they KNOW.

Thanks for the comments!