One of the greatest challenges of creating a painting is the process of self-critique. Not only is this process important for the work itself, it is an essential component to artistic growth. One of the advantages of an academic setting is that college and graduate students sit through numerous critiques of their own and others work. If you haven’t had the benefit of that type of experience, or still feel weak at self-critique, here are some guidelines to follow.
1.If you are going to critique or make judgments about the art, stop all work and step away from it.
2.When you are actively working on the art, don’t worry overly about problems. If you find yourself hesitating about what to do next, stop, walk away and give the work a break. You can always start a new piece if you’d like to keep working.
3.It is important to have more than one work in progress at a time. Working on more than one painting at a time allows you to view the works comparatively and will help you stay consistent.
4.At a distance, use your hands like a frame to visually isolate quadrants of the painting. It is easier to find problems when they are separated from the whole.
5.If the painting gives you too many problems, don’t be afraid to scrap the whole thing. Sometimes fixating on something will hold back your progress.
6.Become a scientist. Study the work of an artist whose style is similar. Compare their work to yours. Ask yourself what makes their painting so effective. To better understand their process, create a copy of the work, paying carefully attention to how the painting is layered.
7.If the painting has a focal point, does it capture the viewer’s eye?
8.Use a sketchbook to create small studies before you paint and to keep notes of work in progress. Writing is an essential component to tracking and expanding your artistic growth.
9.Hold the painting in front of a mirror to see if it looks as good in reverse. This process will often reveal weak or flawed spots.
10.Turn the painting in different directions. Doing this will allow you to make more objective decisions about color and value.
11.View the painting from many distances to determine how compelling it will be from across the room.
12.If you have a digital camera, taking a photo of the painting can be helpful if your computer will allow you to manipulate the digital image. For instance, viewing the work in black and white might show that your range of value is not great enough or if the work has problems with contrast.
Above all with self-critique, don’t let anything hold you back.