Alright, so I've heard some allegations that people in this art thread are pompus, or can't take critiques blah blah blah. But honestly people's art threads are almost like little personal museums, or art shops...Do we really want to post art only to have a few posts later for everyone to tell us every little error or inconvenience so everyone goes back and stares at that stigma forgetting what we've accomplished as a whole? Still for those people who don't have the luxury or the confidence to seek elsewhere for whole hearted critiques, I present to you a critique thread.
"Critique. It’s one of those words that society has taken into one of the most negative connotations, and yet, it’s not meant to be a negative at all. In the art world, the idea of a critique is to examine the formal elements of a particular piece of art. It has absolutely nothing to do with passing judgment or assessing its validity, it is just a way to look beyond the obvious. It is an invaluable process within the artistic community and the responsibility to handle it properly should not be taken lightly." -http://goblinqueeen.deviantart.com/art/Tips-to-Critque-on-DA-16050999
Tips by Goblin Queen
1) A critique is not just about what is ‘wrong’ with a piece.
This is an unfortunate misunderstanding that I have seen perpetrated all too often. Simply pointing out each and every thing you consider to be a flaw in a piece of art is not a good critique. A good critique is balanced and addresses many if not all of the formal elements, expressing both good and bad, what you feel works, and what doesn’t. This may seem to be an overly ‘pc’ approach to some, but if you focus on the negative, the person you are trying to help is likely to tune you out without taking in your meaning which accomplishes nothing for either of you. Remember, this is something the person has likely poured hours of work into and understandably, they may be rather attached to it and if all you have to say is negative and they see some good, they may discredit your perfectly valid points. A balanced evaluation is the best and most proper approach. Try to address the elements you think were carried out well in addition to the one’s you felt maybe could use some work.
2) Remember to leave your personal tastes behind.
If you are going to evaluate a piece of art, you have to be able to approach it from a totally neutral perspective. If you don’t care for a particular genre or style, to give a good critique, that needs to be left out of it. That is not to say you are not entitled to that opinion, but I’m sure the artist is well aware that there are those that will not care for the style/genre of their work and there is no need to say so again. As mentioned before, you want the person to be receptive to what you have to say and if you start out with an obvious prejudice, they will likely discredit anything else you may have written. Again, this is of no help to anyone and defeats the purpose of the critique.
3) Be constructive with your criticisms.
Unfortunately, this is a very ambiguous area. How do you say something bad in a good way? Well, to start out with, saying something is ‘ugly,’ ‘annoying,’ and/or ‘bad’ is not constructive. It gives the artist nothing to help them improve. Again, your ultimate goal is to help the person you are lending your time to and if all you do is slander their hard work, they are unlikely to listen. If per say you find something lacking in a piece, it is far better to try to focus on why you find it lacking and express it that way. Saying a color feels a bit too bright is far more helpful than saying it is ugly or wrong. By focusing on the source of your gut instinct, you are both helping the artist because it is much harder if not impossible for them to try to guess why you had a certain reaction.
4) Similarly, do try to be honest.
It’s all well and good to be polite, but also not to the point where you are being untruthful. Don’t hold back your opinion, just try to keep in mind how you would like it expressed to you if it was your own artwork being commented on.
5) Also important specifically here on devART is the level of critique the person has indicated they desire. Obviously, if they say ‘do not critique,’ they do not want it critiqued for many possible reasons. If they ask for an ‘advanced critique,’ then fire away, but still keep in mind that you want to be respectful in doing so. More ambiguous is the ‘critique welcome’ option. Keep in mind, this is the only middle ground deviantART has set up. While the person is not asking you to refrain from a more in-depth look at the work, they are also not specifically requesting it, so try to keep that in mind.
6) Use maturity and tact in your comments.
Of course, this may fluctuate depending on the age of the artist that produced the work, but if you are evaluating a serious nude, then it is not generally good form to make jokes about body parts, etc. Understandably, one of the most natural responses in people when they are nervous or uncomfortable about something is to make a joke, but think first about whether it is appropriate or not. If not, it might be better to say nothing.
7) Saying nothing is perfectly alright.
If you really just don’t like a genre like anime, or abstract expressionism, or portraiture and do not think you can comment without those prejudices influencing you, it is perfectly alright to say nothing at all about the piece. To have an opinion does not mean it has to be expressed at every opportunity. As mentioned before, the artist already knows that there are those that do not share their same interests. Simply telling them again with no consideration for the formal elements of the work does not help them at all and isn’t the end goal to help the artist? Be prepared that the artist may not agree with you.
That does not mean that they do not respect your opinion, but just as you do not necessarily agree with the choices they made, they might not agree with yours. In the end, art is very subjective and each person will have their own taste. You can offer a suggestion, but don’t take it personally if the artist decides against it. It is not that they are unwilling to hear criticism, they just don’t happen to agree with that particular suggestion. Remember, all you are offering is an opinion. It may be an opinion shared by many, but in the end, it is only an opinion and the artist is the one with the end say.
9) Do not try to pass judgment on the ‘validity’ of someone’s chosen means of expression.
There many different forms of art out there, some I like and some I don’t, but if it is of no harm to others, then I have no right to say what is and isn’t ‘art.’ Someone else might choose a different means of expression than I would, but that does not make those feelings they are expressing any less valid.
10) Try to look at the age and level of the artist.
On devART, there are many different ages and skill levels. The scale ranges from professionals to amateurs to hobbyists. You may want to be a bit less harsh with a 12 year old or someone that is just doing art for fun than with an aspiring professional that is trying to hone their skills to break into the field.
11) Be willing to put your money where your mouth is.
It is not a necessity, but a very nice addition if you can see that the person offering suggestions understands what they are talking about and can demonstrate it in their own work. As I said, this is not a necessity, but I’ve always found I’m far more receptive to taking suggestions from professors and other artists whose work I respect. It shows that they understand what they are saying on both a theoretical and practical level.
12) Do not, I repeat do not use the critique/comment area for promoting your own work.
That is extremely bad form. That’s like coming into someone else’s gallery show with fliers for your own or coming to someone’s wedding and trying to upstage the bride, it’s just not done. Mentioning that you have dealt with a similar theme/character and even comparing and contrasting the two is generally accepted, but to use the space to link up your own work is very disrespectful. Obviously, if the artist is interested (and I would hope they are as I’m always interested in seeing how different artists have approached the same subject), they can come over and find it in your gallery, but it is impolite to impose.
13) If you are going to ask a question, be respectful of the artist’s time and read the description first.
Nine times out of ten, the question has already been answered there. After all, they were nice enough to take the time to provide all of the information you might need to properly understand a particular piece, if you ignore it, then you are showing disrespect for that original time spent and the time they now must spend answering it again.
Now, in the end, these are only suggestion to help both you and the person who you are critiquing. Just like with a critique, you might agree with some or none of these and ultimately, how you approach it is up to you. These are just my own observations and things I have found help me from both ends in terms of understanding where someone else is coming from in offering a critique and helping them understand where I’m coming from when I am offering one. Maybe these tips will prove useful for you and maybe they won’t, but it’s something to think about in anycase. Assumptions bad critics make
There is one universal and objective measure of how good and bad anything is.
That the critic is in sole possession of the skill for making these measurements.
Anyone that doesn’t possess this skill (including the creator of the work) is an idiot and should be ridiculed.
That valid criticisms can and should always be resolved.
- Focus/impact area - An effective focus/impact area makes the difference between a picture and a work of art. The impact area gives the viewer direction and establishes a sense of priority for all the other elements. A focus/impact area means that the artist has been able to capture what in real life is selective seeing - we can only focus on one thing at a time, the rest is seen through peripheral vision. Does the work have such an area?
- Mood/feeling - Does the work convey a mood? Decide if it is merely rendering of parts or if there is a sense of interpretation and feeling.
- Creativity - What has been done better, or differently, from the ordinary? Was creativity used in the selection of subject and/or use of materials?
- Composition - design - Are there interesting shapes - both positive and negative? Is there a variety of shape sizes? Are the picture elements arranged in a dominant design scheme - for example with rectangular or diagonal emphasis? Is the design based on one or several geometric forms and, if several, do they work together? Does the design work with, or against, the subject? Does it attract attention to itself (i.e. the arrangement takes over the subject)? Is the composition balanced?
- Composition - counterpoint - Evaluate the complexity of the subject and the selection of shapes used. Look for a dominant element, subelements and repetition of elements. Is there variety/counterpoint? In general, the more complex the better - without going over the top. Remember the rule: ”Diversity within unity”.
- Value - How has tonal value been used to convey mood, depth, dimension, and impact/focus? Look at the composition of general tonal areas.
- Color - How has color been used to convey mood, harmony, and depth? Does the color scheme fit the subject? Has color been used to establish a focus/impact area? Check for the use of color fundamentals like complementary or analogous color.
- Other fundamentals - Evaluate the use of other fundamentals (besides color and value) such as perspective, edges, and style. How does perspective help to convey depth? Is perspective used creatively? Are hard edges used to pull elements forward and soft edges used to integrate elements in the scene? How is style used to promote the intent/mood?
- Unity - Unity is what holds all parts together. Has color, pattern or technique been used to establish unity?
- Craftsmanship - This is where the technical skills such as drawing and the handling of materials are assessed.
- Readability/flow - Can the viewer's eye move easily into the work? How has the artist used shape, line, value, color, perspective, etc to guide you to the focus/impact area, to/from sub-themes and away from exit areas?
- Technical inaccuracy - Does inaccurate drawing make elements work against the logic or intent of the composition? For example, shadows that fall in the wrong direction, a sloping horizon, errors in perspective for realistic art.
- Lack of imagination - Poor selection of subject and approach. A dull subject rendered in a dull way.
- Lack of originality - Presenting a trite subject that has been painted a thousand times before.
- Content discrepancy – An element that is not in character with the logic or intent of the work. For example: the artist intends to make a realistic wildlife painting but shows the animal in the wrong environment.
- Style discrepancy - Inconsistent styles within the same work, or the obvious influence of another artist’s style in parts.
- Inconsistent quality - Landscape good, wildlife weak.
- Easy way out – The artist has obviously positioned a subject to avoid difficult detail.
- Plagiarism - The artist has copied another's work, or used someone else's photographs, and presented it as their own. (This also has legal implications.)
- Lack of interpretation - The artist was controlled by the subject. For example, including the shadow of a photo flash, or rendering a subject's eyes with effect of photo flash; a pleine aire artist has included an ugly object which detracts from their landscape simply because it was there.
- Poor presentation - How is the work presented? Is it free from the non-artistic use of coffee-stains, globs of paint, brush hairs stuck in dry paint, fingerprints, shoddy frame, poorly cut matte, sloppily painted edges of canvas, canvas shining through, poor/uneven varnishing, cracks, scratches, etc?
- Empty - No mood, message or feeling conveyed.
Now that you've got some reference, post some art you'd like some opinions on.
Also please, NAME YOUR PICTURE so instead of linking it AGAIN, you can just state the name of the art you are criticing