Thursday, February 23, 2006

Criticism: who needs it?
The March 2006 copy of ‘the Artist’ carried a depressing letter from a man who endured devastating criticism of his painting at a local Art Society meeting. The experience completely destroyed his confidence.

I cannot understand why amateur Art Societies persist in holding criticism evenings; in my experience they achieve very little. What usually happens on these occasions is that several members chip in with often contrary opinions and anyone looking for consistent constructive advice rarely gets it. The situation that exists in a well run class or workshop where the tutor offers advice and comment on a one to one basis is far more helpful.

Interestingly the correspondent described the friendliness and willingness to share ideas that existed in the Dunedin Art Society in New Zealand in the 1960’s. I can verify that the same spirit prevails in the new millennium. I’ve made three visits to New Zealand and met members of Art Societies in Dunedin, Taupo and Thames. Sometimes I ‘gatecrashed’ unannounced but I always had a warm welcome. They were interested to see how a Pom with an English watercolour style handled the strange young evolving landforms of their country.

Once attuned to the excitement aroused by what your eye likes painting comes naturally. A more experienced and sympathetic painter occasionally looking over your shoulder to nudge you in an appropriate direction is all you need. Criticism given in a room full of people which makes you colour with embarrassment – you don’t need it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would have to disagree, I think critiques are always useful, part of being an artist is to grow a thick skin to take the rejection, not just by ones peers but from galleries etc. It goes withthe territory. However it seems a very poor art group that is unable to provide helpful criticism as opposed to just criticism. I frequent an online forum at where friendly critiques are given.

Ken Gillam