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Posting paintings and critique- A conversation

Hi all,
I want to open up a discussion regarding the posting of paintings and critique and hear other people's thoughts.

Posting paintings
I have noticed that sometimes paintings are posted with no other information. When this happens I am unsure of the posters intent. There is no information regarding medium, size, support, title, what the painter was aiming for or whether critique is welcome. I will almost never comment on these paintings as I am reluctant to offer critique or comment when I have no idea of the posters intent. This may leave some posters feeling ignored.

Critique
Critique is almost an art in itself and very valuable when done in a supportive, honest way. We can all learn from each other and improve.
Here are some guidelines 

This is from an article by Marion Boddy -Evans

How to Critique a Painting

Tips to help you comment constructively when giving a painting critique.

It's only natural for artists to want people to like their paintings, but if they're to grow as artists, then they need statements that say a little more than simply "It's nice" or "I love it" or "I don't think this painting works". They need information on what specifically is nice, loved, or isn't working. Specific, constructive comments will help not only the artist whose painting it is, but also other artists reading the critique.

It will also help the artist to look at their own work with a fresh eye.

IF YOU FEEL UNQUALIFIED TO CRITIQUE

You don't need to be a professional painter commanding high prices for your work or have a degree in art history in order to critique a painting. We all have opinions and are entitled to express them. Think about what you like or dislike in the painting, focus in on why you like or dislike this and then put your reasons into everyday words. Is there anything you think could be improved or would have done differently? Is there something you wish you'd thought of doing? Don't feel you need to comment on the whole painting; even a sentence or two on a small element will be helpful to the artist.

IF YOU FEAR HURTING THE ARTIST'S FEELINGS

Any artist asking for a critique takes the risk that they may not like what people say. But it's a risk worth taking to develop as an artist – and as with any opinion or advice, they're free to accept or reject it.

Don't be personal; you're talking about one specific painting, not the artist. Think about how you'd feel if someone said it to you and, if necessary, rephrase it. But rather say something short than nothing; if an artist's taken the step of putting a painting out for critique, it's very disheartening to be met by silence.

The key to critique is compassion: show some compassion towards the artist's efforts, even if you don't think they were successful.

IF YOU'RE UNSURE ABOUT TECHNIQUE

Technical "correctness" such as accurate perspective and proportions, is only one aspect of a painting that you can comment on. Don't forget the subject matter and the emotional impact; talk about how the painting made you feel, your immediate response to it, what is it in the painting that generated an emotional response? Look at the composition and elements in the painting: does it draw your eye in, does it tell a story that keeps you looking, where is the main focus of the painting? Would you change anything, and why? Is there any aspect you particularly admire, and why? Does any aspect need further work? Could an idea be developed further? Read the artist's statement, if there is one, then consider whether the artist has achieved their stated aim.

End of Article


This obviously isn't the be all and end all of critiquing paintings but gives an idea, there are lots of online articles about this aspect of art. And in the end there are no rules!

What do you guys think? Would it be helpful for people to give more information when posting their work? Would it be helpful if people put some kind of statement regarding whether they were seeking critique or not?



movealonghomeSummerKaustavFlattyBarbaratassieguyBOB73Julianna
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Comments

  • SummerSummer -
    edited August 26
    I've been trying to resurrect the old threads pertaining to this issue.  Thanks for posting this.  In the past the general consensus of opinion was that people who are sensitive to other people speaking plainly should speak up and say so.  For instance: "I am not looking for a critique but would like to share my paintings with you."    Or, "I am only interested in what you like about the painting that I have submitted here."  Or, my personal favorite, "I'm posting these paintings for your pleasure and not for any negative feedback."  Something along those lines.  Summer
    Flatty
  • One idea is to give two specific positive comments on things you thought were done well, and, if you have them, one or two constructive comments in regard to areas for improvement.

    I always appreciate constructive feedback as I am trying to improve as much as possible. I like positive feedback most when it's specific because that gives me an idea of exactly what others might be seeing and appreciating in my work.

    The challenge with this is that providing specific feedback takes more time and energy.
    Bancroft414
  • I pretty much hold off unless the person posting asks for suggestions or asks a specific question.  I remember wet canvas used to have different "channels" where one extreme  was "just look" and the other was "just rip it apart". Which they did. 
    Julianna
  • I agree that it would be helpful if the artist made a statement of sorts. But most often I think the forum in general follows those guidelines even if they didn't know about them. The artist may not specifically ask for a critique or comments for each posted painting but will have in the past. That's what I go by. If they've never asked for feedback AND if they've not responded positively to feed back from other commenters then I would be reluctant to offer criticism (Don't forget that everybody here paints better than I do so I'm reluctant to comment anyway. I just try very hard not to let that hold me back.)
    Bancroft414MoeyMichele
  • SummerSummer -
    edited August 26
    A suggestion.  How about a Members Critique Preferences thread that would be ongoing.  It would look like: Summer - Critiques, emotional reactions, and humor welcome from any skill level.  Members would not have to recall another member's preferences, because this thread would be available to access.  Just a thought.  Summer
    KaustavMartin_J_Crane
  • I pretty much hold off unless the person posting asks for suggestions or asks a specific question.  I remember wet canvas used to have different "channels" where one extreme  was "just look" and the other was "just rip it apart". Which they did. 
    Hey @Martin_J_Crane, how did the "Just rip it apart" pan out?
    Julianna
  • Folks

    Much of the difficulty with criticism is how it's framed. If asked, say what's good, suggest improvements.
    I agree with Kaustav, any help provided on the Forum is valuable. The ethos here is a learning and growing spirit of representative realism. Mark is the best teacher, we Forum painters owe it to him to be the best stimulus to new starters, assist with problems and provide inspiration.

    Denis 
    BoudiccaBOB73Julianna
  • edited August 26
    @dencal I also feel that criticism is not easy. We judge technical aspects but tend to overlook other things. New guys need good criticism but too much criticism might make them feel discouraged. It is important to let them know what are the good things that they did as well. There are a few parameters of judging a painting:
    1. Was it painted well? (technical skill and knowledge)
    2. Was the artist expressive enough? (both visually and spiritually)
    3. Does the painting represent the artist or not? (uniqueness)
    I guess these guidelines could help the critic to understand what's in front of them.
    Bancroft414
  • I've found immense value in feedback/critique from this forum. Not only for my work, but reading comments and recommendations for other's work. Having a critical eye is a huge benefit to any artist and I'm learning more than I expected just by reading the more experienced members comments.

    When I post a painting I usually list areas of concern for me, and welcome feedback. The only time I feel a twinge of 'errg' is when someone criticises something that I already know isn't right. I hear in my head.. "I know that! I haven't got to that yet! I was just going to do that!" Kind of like when your mom reminds you to do something you were just going to do!  :s ;)

    I'm always impressed with the level of kindness and quality content the members of this forum offer each other. As you said, @Boudicca clarifying ones expectations/intent whenever posting a painting is probably the most effective way to ward off any unwanted comments. Maybe this thread will do the trick in helping newbies in that regard. Thanks for posting!
    ForgivenessBOB73Bancroft414
  • SummerSummer -
    edited August 26
    I hope this thread will bear fruit and not wither like the others have on this topic.  And, especially, I, and I think we, don't want to overstep any bounds here.  Do we have to involve/invite/bother administration?  Not necessarily.  But it would be nice to do so just to get feedback.  It's just a thread and a test to see if it can be useful to us.  Any one of us can create it and time will decide if it lives or dies.  Participation is voluntary.  We have two votes so far.   :)   
    ForgivenessBarbara
  • @Boudicca I'm grateful you posted this. I'm very new yet. I've found most feedback to be encouraging and constructive. I try to make sure when I post a painting that members know I am new at oil painting (so there isn't an expectation of superior work) and I think in one post I asked for 'gentle' critique. I know best if I feel emotionally receptive to corrective feedback on a particular work. I'm also not 100% set up in the Mark Carder method yet (working on it). 
    I have found that most critiques are judicious and kind. I think these are excellent guidelines and I'm happy you opened the floor to discussion.
    BOB73Julianna
  • Boudicca said:
    I pretty much hold off unless the person posting asks for suggestions or asks a specific question.  I remember wet canvas used to have different "channels" where one extreme  was "just look" and the other was "just rip it apart". Which they did. 
    Hey @Martin_J_Crane, how did the "Just rip it apart" pan out?

  • Ehh, I never had the guts to post anything of mine there!  It was so rough in there that the positive comments were discouraged!  There were "nicer" more balanced channels that I posted on. This was when I was focusing exclusively on drawing. Haven't posted there in a long time. 
    Boudicca
  • New tally: four votes in favor so far.  :)
  • Summer

    A conditional yes from me. The condition being that there are some guidelines for the thread.

    Denis

    SummerBarbara
  • Is it a thread or a new category?
    Julianna
  • SummerSummer -
    edited August 26
    Boudicca said:
    Is it a thread or a new category?
    Just a suggestion, but I would at first create it as a New Discussion with a few guidelines as Denis suggests.  Later on, if administration sees fit, it could become a new category or even a section on everyone's profile page if the idea is useful.  Summer
    Boudicca
  • SummerSummer -
    edited August 26
    I have revised my line to read: Summer - Critiques, emotional reactions, and humor welcome from any skill level.  Can we have some other samples of members lines to get an idea of how to formulate the guidelines?

  • SummerSummer -
    edited August 26
    It looks like on the MCP page we would be leaving a comment in the 'Leave a Comment' section and customizing it to fit our overall situation which could be edited in the future if necessary.  The post with the actual painting(s) would have additional and more specific information if necessary.  Hmm.  Sounds good to me.  :)
    Bancroft414
  • SummerSummer -
    edited August 26
    Now on to the guidelines.  Be concise, calm, and honest would be my recommendation.  And, I like this from @kaustav ;
    Kaustav said:
    @dencal I also feel that criticism is not easy. We judge technical aspects but tend to overlook other things. New guys need good criticism but too much criticism might make them feel discouraged. It is important to let them know what are the good things that they did as well. There are a few parameters of judging a painting:
    1. Was it painted well? (technical skill and knowledge)
    2. Was the artist expressive enough? (both visually and spiritually)
    3. Does the painting represent the artist or not? (uniqueness)
    I guess these guidelines could help the critic to understand what's in front of them.
    Summer
  • I like to give encouragement to painters like me who have expressed concerns on whether their art is good. The encouragement comes in the way the critique is framed. There were more than a few painters who posted paintings and never came back and those were the ones that got little or no feedback. I would love it if we simply continued what we have been doing. Like I said earlier in this thread we have been following the guidelines ( @Boudicca 's original article) anyway. Maybe If an artist posts a painting and isn't clear abut wanting feed back we simply ask in the comment if they wanted a critique. I wouldn't be opposed if someone critiqued my critique either or if I offered some advice you knew was incorrect. That would be beneficial for the painter too. 
    RenoirBarbaraRonna
  • @BOB73 - as a newbie, you have been very encouraging and always seem to comment, especially when newcomers post. Yours and others comments have been incredibly encouraging to me simply by acknowledging that I 'put something out there'. It takes a lot of courage for most of us to post for the first time.

    Now that I know this board isn't full of snobs or elitists, but artists of all levels and experience who give encouragement and solid feedback, I feel quite confident to share. Sometimes I feel like I share too much, but I really do need feedback to grow. I also like that someone here said that even those posters who are novices should comment on paintings as well as we all have some kind of reaction to a painting. It is absolutely true that we become so submersed in our painting that we have no objectivity. I take photos with my phone of whatever work I am doing simply to get that objectivity. But there are certainly times, like my most current painting, that I have no objectivity at all. I am stuck.

    As a newbie but a moderator of other forums,, I must say, this is an excellent forum and so far, it seems self-regulated. I feel truly fortunate to have found you all!!!!
    FlattyBancroft414BarbaraJulianna
  • @Renoir, You've made my day. Thanks.
    Renoir
  • @Bancroft414 - spot on! I appreciate the feedback from my kids and husband, but grow the most from the feedback of other painters. All of you know the challenges and process and some of you have overcome hurdles I have not. And by the way, congratulations on surviving your dissertation...gives meaning to Nietzsche's "That which does not kill us makes us stronger", doesn't it?
    Bancroft414
  • SummerSummer -
    edited August 26
    Guidelines:  Be concise, calm, and honest--for starters.  We could also include a brief guideline in our individual posts.  I liked other guidelines suggested earlier as well.  :)
    Bancroft414
  • BOB73BOB73 -
    edited August 26
    You reminded me of an important aspect to all of this, @Bancroft414. That is with all the suggestions and recommendations one may get in response to their paintings, it is still up to the artist to use or not use the advice. And I agree with you, this is most definitely the best art class ever.
    Bancroft414Barbara
  • SummerSummer -
    edited August 26
    This is true with a lot of things in life, but it's better to keep the lines of communication open and suffer the one-off one, than risk losing the important next one that might be on its heels.  I hope this makes sense.  Probably a brief summary of the important points in the guidelines would help.  
  • SummerSummer -
    edited August 27
    Are we getting close?  Heading under New Discussion: Members Critique Preferences 

    Guidelines (recommended by Denis): http://m.wikihow.com/Critique-Artwork

    (Posts from individual members from here on down which can be edited and even removed at later dates.)

    Thank you everyone who has gotten us this far.  If this works, it could eventually become a New Category or even a designated section on the Profile pages where new members could make their preferences known straight away.  Summer


  • How will newcomers know to go there and add there preferences before they post a painting? 
  • SummerSummer -
    edited August 26
    @BOB73 ; I assume you are referring to the Profile page idea?  If you are given an opportunity to make your preferences known as soon as you sign up, you would assume that others have the same option on their profile page.  Just click on the image icon of another member to see their preferences on their page.  All this is still in the theoretical stages, of course.  Thanks for your question.  Summer
    BOB73

  • BOB73 said:
    How will newcomers know to go there and add there preferences before they post a painting? 
    The New Discussion thread idea for Members Critique Preferences will be kept alive and visible from simple use by members and therefore can be seen by the newbies.   Sounds a lot like Google's algorithm of math destruction, doesn't it--haha.  Summer    
    BOB73
  • @Boudicca : Thank you for starting this conversation. I think it is one of the reasons this forum came into being. We might not have an immediate friend or family person, who is into oil painting, and where else would one go for critique, suggestions, queries.... Apart from this forum, I show my paintings to some of my close friends and family members who seem to be genuinely interested. They are usually in awe of anything I show them, as oil painting isn't as commonly pursued in any of my circles... So this forum has been very valuable for me...
    And as someone said, its good if its mentioned in the post if the person is looking for a critique or not... As sometimes a person may be too exhausted after completing a painting, and might not want to go over it again... 
    For me, I do look forward to workable suggestions, things i might have overlooked. And sometimes I just keep the little faults in the painting to myself, and change it if someone points it out to me in the comments. As this means that something is actually wrong and its not just artist's curse.
    Bancroft414BOB73
  • This is a great thread.  I agree with everything that has been posted so far.  I really appreciate @summer 's contributions.  I think I have reached a certain point, technically, and I need something different from how to blend or check values. I want to talk about how to take my work to the next level.  If I need technical advice I ask and it is received.  There is no question this forum is a priceless source of good guidance for that part.  I am happy to receive any of that advice without question or contradiction.  But I feel a bit starved for some of the more esoteric commentary on composition, perspective, depth and etc.  I invite that discussion on anything I submit.  I cannot tell you how thrilled I was that @PaulB analyzed my latest project and gave me a technical analysis that supported the design decisions made to that point, which this group helped me make.  It is probably not for everyone, but where I am concerned, bring it.  If I am particularly sensitive about a piece, I won't submit it.  There are several you haven't seen.

    Bancroft414BOB73Renoir
  • Folks

    Have a look at these guidelines. Perhaps a link at the top of the thread.

    Denis


    SummeranweshaJulianna
  • Wow Denis. Can't we just say "great job, keep going!"? That's very informative but quite formal too.
  • SummerSummer -
    edited August 27
    Folks, Are we ready to try this idea?  Or, are we still thinking about it?  @Boudicca, as originator of the thread, would you do the honors and launch the idea in New Discussion calling it Members Critique Preferences?  I will do it if you like.  @dencal ; I like your guidelines link a lot.  It could look something like: Guidelines: http://m.wikihow.com/Critique-Artwork   I'm looking forward to reading all preferences submitted by my fellow members old and new as time goes on and adhering to your special requests.  I believe a lot of good will come from this.  Thanks Boudicca for starting this thread and everyone else for contributing to its success.  Maybe these preferences will have a place on each members Profile page someday.  Fingers crossed.  Summer   


    RenoirJuliannaRonna
  • BOB73

    I have seen the toxic atmosphere created when critical comments escalate to hurt and insult ending In obscenity and exclusion.

    Giving a critical review is difficult and for many receiving a critical review is difficult. These guidelines set up a framework for both parties to understand the scope and purpose of a review. They are guidelines, not a script or template.

    "Great job, keep going" ain't going to provide much help to fix a problem or suggest improvements.

    Denis

    KaustavBOB73Julianna
  • Over to you @Summer

    @BOB73 and @dencal

    I see both points of view. The guidelines may seem formal however I too have seen critiques disintegrate into brawls. With the information above I think it gives a clear understanding of the process. There is a responsibility on the behalf of the painter to give clear information about their painting- size, support medium, intent, to enable the critiquer( I don't think that's an actual word ) to give an informed critique.
    Its a bit more involved that just banging a painting up and seeing what happens, and both sides benefit, practising critiquing paintings of others helps to improve your own work and everyone benefits.
    Summer
  • edited August 27
  • SummerSummer -
    edited August 27
    Ha ha you guys.  Lucky for you I know how to fall on my face!  :)  
  • SummerSummer -
    edited August 27
    Okay, it seems to have a mind of its own now.  Thanks everyone.   
  • Summer said:
    Okay, it seems to have a mind of its own now.  How can this be improved?  Anyone? 
    Not sure what you mean @Summer
  • @Boudicca ; I'm not sure either.  How does it look?
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