dsc_0004 Critique is hard.  No one really likes critique at first, and some never like it at all.  It’s scary, putting yourself out like that.  It’s one of the most important parts of making art, though, so starting in the 7th grade we do critique.  Critique begins with a presentation of their artwork answering: 1. What did you create and why did you choose your imagery? 2. What are the techniques you used to create your artwork, and 3. What are the things you like/would improve on your artwork?

After the presentation critique begins.  Critique is when we take our artwork, present it to someone (or someones) and then we ask for their constructive compliments and constructive criticism.  The key word being ‘constructive.dsc_0003

Constructive compliments don’t just
say “I like it”.  They say instead phrases
like “I like the way you colored x”, or “I like the way that you used contrast to make your object stand out from your background”, etc….  Only stating that you like something in general does nothing but inflate the ego.  We want the artist to be able to know exactly what is working, so that they are able to incorporate similar techniques into their next artworks.

The same goes for constructive criticism.  It does nothing but hurt feelings to say “I don’t like it”, “This is not good”, “your artwork doesn’t convey any feeling”.  None of those statements, or similar statements, help the artist improve.  They come across as personal attacks, and don’t offer any significant information for the artist to take with them.

dsc_0005Instead, I ask students to offer solutions to specific problems.
Comments could include
“I wish you had used coloring techniques we used to even out your
ackground”, “I wish you had added some more detail in the left hand corner because it’s empty”, “I think you could have taken a little more time with your lines”, “I think it would look better with more contrast”, etc….

Often it’s easy to take these dsc_0006constructive criticisms personally, but
it’s important for theartist to remember that all the comments being made are about the technical aspects of their artwork, not the emotional aspects.  No one is saying their artwork is not good, but instead that there are still areas to improve.

Usually after the first few critiques students feel much better about presenting and listening to what their peers have to say, and there is a feeling of trust that goes both ways between all my students.  Everyone understands that nothing is personal, and that we all just want the artwork to be amazing, to always be better.

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