Critical Thinking

waiting, photograph

“We all have our limitations, but when we listen to our critics, we also have theirs.”

Robert Brault

It is important  to remember that critics have limitations, just as artists do.  They come with their own histories and prejudices, which they mostly cannot help but have color their critiques of our work. Often we do not know what these are, so it’s hard to interpret what we hear appropriately.

The same is true for artists and their art – each of us has our own background and experiences that inspire and define what we create. Most of our viewers know little of this and, thus, can only interpret our work based on what they see combined with their own insights. And in some sense, that’s fine – it doesn’t matter that they don’t know why we did something.

And that is true for how an artist uses a critique – while it may be interesting to know why the critic says what they do, ultimately it’s up to us to take the words in and see what truth they have for us.In that way, we become a little less constrained by their limitations and are left to do battle with out own.

5 responses to “Critical Thinking

  1. Good to have you back at your blog Bob! I always have tried to take critiques with an open mind, open to the possibility that not every concern or tip may really apply to the photograph in question and open to the fact that there’s always someone more experienced than me as well… I like how you’ve approached this, wouldn’t have known how to word this at all till now. Thanks… I particularly love the bright figure in the foreground of this image, makes it nicely inhabited.

  2. Nice work! Interesting background architecture. It really commands your attention, but that lone figure and the cherry (magnolia?) trees brings it back.

  3. Bob-

    Such thoughtful words on the failings of criticism. Without critics creation would be pure between the artist and the viewer. On what ground do they stand? What limitations can they really impose, when we have the frame to set limits?

    The small figure in this piece has more weight than the building!

    Your new site looks great (so does Susan’s). I hope to make it to your show in Healdsburg soon.

  4. Hi Robert,

    In working with other artists, especially when they critique new paintings, I have to watch this closely because my experience and why I paint a given way is my own style, and at times a critique can overlook or dismiss this very important aspect, if I am not careful I can misconstrue this to mean what I did was wrong, and for me what I was doing is just great. I think the discovery of painting is unique to every artist and we all have something to share, and something very special we say with our art, irregardless of the monetary value the art world places on our work. Thanks for the good insight.

    Jim Springett-wildlife artist

  5. Amazing how important the person is to this image. As you know I don’t consider myself too skilled at critique, so I’ll just say “a very pleasing image to view indeed.”

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