Thursday, October 29, 2015

How to Self-Critique Your Art

Art Lesson Du Jour
Spend Less Time on the Ropes to Make Better Work
(dedicated to my champion students)

Fact: It's a simple truth that every painting and drawing are a series of corrections. 

When taking a jab at art, each mark is our best guess in relationship to the other marks we've made. It's the best mark we can make right then, at that moment in time. We make it knowing full well that it is likely to change, and that's ok. Later in the process we will know better. 

Problem: Panic, strong emotions, and harsh self-criticism will defeat the creative process. 

I often see students in a knock-down, drag-out with themselves when things aren't going well in a drawing or painting. Their critique of the work becomes a criticism of self. It's easy to allow the critical voices of one's insecurities or the nasty voices of others into your head. I've been there and done that as well. Trust me, when you let those guys talk, no constructive critique is going on! 

When I see my students hitting below the belt I say, "Hey, don't talk to my student that way," "Would I say that to you?" or "Would you say that to anyone else in your life?" Of course the answer is always "No!"

Panic too can creep in during frustrating moments. We live a fast paced life with instant gratification and the sheer time required to look and see properly can make an artist feel panic. The brain is constantly yelling, "This is taking too long." We feel certain that everyone else is figuring this stuff out with more agility and speed than we are.

All this self-doubt and emotional thinking clog up the creative process, so that's why it's important to have a strategy in place. 

Your brain without a plan.
Solutions: Click READ MORE  below for answers. 

1. Have a checklist of constructive bullet points to get you back in the match. Skip the "I'm a bloody pulp, time to throw in the towel" phase by going through the list.

2. Defer negative thoughts to a later date. If you have difficulty simply putting the thoughts out of your head. Try this, say, "Yes, maybe I suck as an artist but I'll think about that tomorrow. Right now let me check these values, angles, color, edges, etc..." And it works because tomorrow never comes. 

Drawing Checklist:
  • How does that angle compare to vertical or horizontal?
  • What is the height to width ratio of the subject?
  • Choose a unit of measurement and see how that compares to other things in the composition.
  • Think not of adding details as the drawing progresses but of making corrections in more specific ways.
  • Think of your drawing as a puzzle with inner connected positive and negative shapes.
  • Etc.
Painting Checklist:
  • Is your drawing correct? Refer to the drawing checklist.
  • Check the values.
  • Have you painted the reflected light in the shadows too light?
  • Are the colors true to the subject?
  • Are the edges too hard? (Hint: the answer is yes)
  • Have you considered transparency and opacity?
  • Have you used too little or too much paint?
  • Have you correctly painted the color temperature?
  • Etc.

You'll be doing knock-out paintings and drawings in no time, or rather, soon. They'll still take plenty of time. Happy painting and drawing. 

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