Do you ever look at a quilt you might put away that just doesn’t look finished? A quilt that didn’t make it into a show? Maybe it’s a quilt that is sitting in your studio right now and you don’t know what to do next?
Yesterday I attended a SAQA pod meeting. It’s a group of art quilters from Southern Nevada and Utah who meet on alternate months. As a group we decided to focus on critique. Each meeting several members bring work in progress.
We divide the hour into equal portions and allow members to provide feedback to a question the artist asks the group.Questions could be open ended; “Is this quilt finished?” or specific “How should I quilt these shapes?” We end the feedback with the artist stating some take away ideas. A comment(s) that they can use to improve their work.
As a facilitator of this group I encourage members to follow a formal process I used when I was teaching and while getting my masters in art. This method has become second nature to me. I find it invaluable.
The first step in the process is to take a minute in silence to look carefully. This might mean getting up close or standing back. Next the observer wants to look for the elements of design used in the composition. When giving feedback you can reference these elements. “The red organic shape in the upper left corner...”
Next you want to ask yourself how these elements are organized using the principles of design as your organizing idea.”The red organic shape in the corner is the focal point.” Understanding and using the design vocabulary is important to providing feedback that can be used by the artist to improve a composition or to correct a design flaw.
The last to steps are interpretation and judgment. In my master's program interpretation often identified the work by genre or subject and with a reference to another artist or art movement." The red and grey organic shapes look like a dry riverbed. It reminds me of the carefully arranged stones in a zen garden."
Judgement is the point where the observer gives constructive and specific suggestions or a clearly articulated summary. “The red shape creates a strong point of emphasis. I would add 3 - 5 smaller and less intense red shapes to create movement through the composition.”
In the future I will be posting some examples of this process on my YouTube channel and will have a workshop outline on my website.
Until next time.....