When giving feedback on someone’s artwork, I like a sandwich. That’s where you start by saying something that’s positive. Then address the area that could use improvement. Close with another complimentary comment. It could be an Oreo cookie, if you prefer sweet analogies to savory ones.
We Stand As The Face Of Time (12"x24", mixed media on wood panel, $600, available at time of posting)
For example, one could say “I love the color palette you’ve used in this piece. It’s got a great, moody feel to it. Overall, the composition works well. This figure here, however, seems a bit disconnected to the rest of the piece. Perhaps if the shape overlapped these other figures, or it faced into the center instead of out to the edge, it would be more integrated. Then my eye would move completely happily thought the painting. It's got areas of rest and areas of detail. Nice Work”.
For more formal or in-depth critiques, I follow an accepted process that I’ll touch on in my next post.
When asking for feedback, give the critic direction. The more specific your request, the more beneficial the critique will likely be.
- Instead of “what do you think?”, try “I was aiming for a very ethereal feel. Do you think this piece conveys that?”
- “I’m so thrilled to have completed this 8’x8’ painting. It’s by far the largest I’ve ever done. I don’t want any critique - I just want you to applaud a massive effort successfully completed.”
- If you want deeper, thoughtful analysis, give the person some advance notice. For example, “I appreciate that you know a lot of my work, and have seen its development over the years. I would really appreciate it if sometime this month you could spend an hour looking at my most recent work, and give me some thoughtful commentary on the new direction I’m taking. I’ll provide refreshments.”
Next up: a look at the anatomy of a formal critique.