I’m not sure how other artists feel about this, but I crave it. Constructive criticism has catapulted my work into new realms on a regular basis. It has forced me to rethink my craft, improve my technique, and explore my subjects and work in ways that I could never have imagined in a silo.
I’m not talking about the “I like this,” or “I don’t like this” comments from viewers of my work. I appreciate and expect opinion, but true critique is so much more than that. I have never been formally educated as an artist, but from what I gather, the critique aspect of studio work in a Fine Arts degree is one of the most essential and valuable parts of a formal artist education.
One of my first experiences with such critique was actually during the panel review of my work the first time I applied for the Creative Pinellas Artist Grant. The critique was open to the public and held at Ruth Eckerd Hall, with the five panelists sitting on the stage. It was nerve-wracking, but one of the most pivotal moments of my art career.
As I sat there and listened to the panelists discuss my work, writing, and application, I was hot-faced in the audience, but determined to learn. I took notes and as I left that day, I already had ideas of how to do better. And that’s just what I did. I improved my work by exploring new techniques and subject matter; I fine-tuned my writing, mission, and vision; and I dedicated myself to research and discovery. Four years later, my work paid off!
I’ve attended other portfolio critiques and organized critique sessions with colleagues, but there is something about a panel of professional artists critiquing your work that is so powerful. I am fortunate to have had the opportunity twice in my career!