Why do I need to get more objective about beetroots?
First, because "The Beet Parade" is another one for the kitchen garden series I'm developing about vegetables. I think this one is finished but if anybody wants to suggest tweaks please pipe up - I've definitely got to that stage where I need a bit of objectivity. Such as in relation to whether or not a row of beetroots makes a good picture?
I've also been umming and erring on the ground/background for ages. I started off knowing what I was going to do, changed my mind half way through, then had another think and went back to the first plan - but with more trepidation - and some tweaks. Art can't always be a completely planned process - you have to be able to respond to a piece as it unfolds - sometimes it tells you what to do to finish it off properly.
(While I'm on the topic of drawing veggies - do take a look at a recent post in Richard Bell's Wild West Yorkshire Nature Diary - on the topic of a small single Veg. Bed - complete with drawings of his raised bed, carrots and spinach!)
Second, this post is about looking at some of the ways in which we can get a more objective perspective on our work.
People who just say nice things all the time (sometimes known as "kudos comments") might make us feel good but they don't always validate work or help the developmental process. A traditional way of getting an objective perspective has been to be a member of a small peer group of artists (traditionally operating offline) who would meet to discuss art matters and each other's work. Larger societies of artists can also be very helpful although some who have belonged to art societies dominated by one or two individuals may disagree! One problem is that lots of people are disinclined to say exactly what they think about a person's art in any form of public forum (online or off) or on blogs.
In my opinion, the development of our critical faculties and elimination of kudos comments is a very necessary part of anybody's artistic development. For that we need to have processes in place which help to provide objective input in a constructive and ideally well-informed way.
Six ways to get a more objective perspective about art
Here are six ways that I use to get more objective about artwork generally and my art in particular:
- put a piece of art on my blog or a forum. It's always really interesting to hear people's perspectives on a piece - especially when you know something about an individual's own art. However, as highlighted above, due to comments being public there is always the concern that people try to find the positive but omit the negative; and/or
- put artwork across the room within my eyesight but not necessarily in my eyeline. The general objective here is catch it unawares! As if I was seeing it for the first time in a gallery! Of course, this strategy is spoilt completely by the way I lean my head round the door in the morning, (having just woken up ie. post bathroom/pre dishing up cat breakfast stage) just to see if it really looks exactly the same as the night before or whether it has somehow metamorphosed into something so much better. Or to see if it has woken up too and is now speaking to me and telling me what to do. Always spoilt by my cats pointing out that I'm looking in the wrong direction and their cat bowls are behind me - and they're empty!!! A variation on this is to put something in a frame and hang it on the wall - it's amazing how different some pieces look when matted and framed; and/or
- put artwork away or turn it to the wall. I do believe that whatever abilities we have in evaluating and assessing our own work sometimes desert us if we've been looking at one piece for too long. I find the acid test is to put the artwork away and then not look at it again for some weeks or months. I can then instantly see whether it is any good or not the next time I look at it - or how to fix the problem I couldn't even see. OK - so you win some and you lose some - but such is life! and/or
- read and study objective assessments of the work of other artists that I'm familiar with or can see. It's one of the reasons why I find it very helpful to go to lectures, read books and visit websites and posts about other artists. Listening to or reading the views of a variety of people mean that I get to hear lots of different views - which can be both stimulating and, at times, confusing. However I do like knowing more about different perspectives and it does help me to develop my own critical faculties.
- take workshops run by professional artists. I found this to be very helpful to start with and continue to value this very much when the workshop is delivered by somebody with good knowledge and judgement who can articulate what they see (which is not necessarily the same as liking my work!). However I do sometimes wish there were also more opportunities for groups of artists to get together for painting without tutors/with peer review; and/or
- show my artwork to my Fine Line Artists cyberchums - On the whole, people are generally much happier to comment in private - especially when they know the person and their work and have seen its development over time. I know I value my (private) online art group very much. My chums are a fine bunch who come to the role of art critic with different backgrounds and from different perspectives. However they are not averse to saying (out of the public eye) exactly when, in their opinion, I've 'laid an egg'. Which means that I value when they say something is particularly good that much more! I know that both listening to more detailed views and needing to explain my views in more detail has helped me with assessing work. It's also made it easier to say "I like it but I don't know why!". I do recommend a private group of constructive chums who don't pull their punches in the art crit stakes as a very helpful adjunct to any process of development.
What do you think are the pros and cons of different approaches to getting a more objective perspective?
Note: This is another post in the Gardens in Art project and I'm listing other blog posts on 'Making A Mark' below.
Links to posts in the Making A Mark - Gardens in Art Project" (August 2007)
- Gardens in Art - Scope and Resources
- Gardens in Art: A new squidoo lens
- Gardens in Art: 2 bookshops and 1001 gardens
- Gardens in Art: In the gardens of Impressionism
- Gardens in Art - Resources for Artists (squidoo lens with lots of links to more information)
- Gardens in Art: The Order Beds at Kew Gardens
- Gardens in Art - Pastel paintings of gardens in Spain
- Gardens in Art - the concept and art of the garden
- Gardens in Art - Drawings and Paintings by Van Gogh
- Gardens in Art - Are you a veggie?
- Gardens in Art - The Painter's Garden