Critique: The art of organized observation.

It’s on the strength of observation and reflection that one finds a way. So we must dig and delve unceasingly.”

Claude Monet

I belong to a critique group which meets once a month at a local library. Each member takes on the challenge of looking and someone’s art work in progress and helping the artist through their visual problem. As a group we take time to look in silence at the work. The artist is allowed to ask a question or pose a dilemma: What should I do about the lower right shape that seems to be too dark? What do you think about the color choices? Do I need darker values?

As a group we have come know each other as people and have been apart of each others artistic growth. It is without a doubt I would not be accepted into local, regional and now national venues if I had not joined a critique group.

Yesterday I attended a regional meeting of the Studio Art Quilters Association (SAQA) . At the meeting a member of the SAQA board and amazing fiber artist lead a critique session for a limited number of members. . The artist was Judith Trager. Before the session; Judith handed out several reference sheets to help guide us through the process one of which was a list of directions.

The first direction was to “Check your ego at the door.” As an artist you have to embrace the the challenge of getting to the best possible solution to a visual problem. This might mean hearing that your choices are not working and you may have to go back to the drawing board.

Judith carefully guided the conversation from looking at how the elements of art work within the composition and connecting that to the intention of the artist. At the opening she hung a small art quilt of a leafless tree with a bright orange sun glowing through it’s branches. It was by most standards a wonderful little art quilt and it was her quilt. Her first request of the group was to tell her what was wrong with the quilt. We provided several suggestions to improve the composition. Next she provided the reason for making the quilt(her inspiration) and connected that with the compositional issues. She modeled for the group what the process was designed to produce: strategies to improve your art. .

I brought a quilt to be critiqued that I thought was finished but had some nagging questions about. Judith gracefully brought up an issue with not seeing the apron immediately in my quilt “Sin is Necessary”. Sin is Necessary As I looked  with a new set of eyes I could see the issue. She also pointed out  not having some of the bottles which fill the lower portion of the quilt clearly in the foreground flattend the work. . They were jumbled together in such a way there was not enough depth. After the comments of other artists I had a very clear idea of what I needed to focus on when I returned to my studio. Both these problems are easily solved and the quilt is hanging on my design wall.

Having a someone help me improve my work and helping me look in a new way at work is invaluable.