Once we get through the beginner stage in our art life, we can benefit from honest and constructive critique of our work by our peers. It is helpful to us at many levels but needs to be handled carefully. Our tender young artist self can be easily bruised and battered by criticism from the wrong people.
The wrong people to ask for art critique include our spouses, close family members and non artist friends. They are usually the closest at hand and are convenient, but don't do it! They will either praise our work excessively or, in the case of engineer spouses, tell us that our lines are crooked and totally miss the point of our artwork. In either case, this is not helpful to our growth and development as visual artists.
The best way to get honest and constructive critique of your art is to join an art group that includes a regular art critique session for members. You can also ask a noted artist for critique and pay them a fee to do it. This can get expensive however.
We recommend gathering together a group of at least 8 other artists. The group should include at least 2 artists of advanced ability and knowledge, the balance of the group can be more intermediate in their skill - they will offer valuable knowledge and insight. Sufficient diversity of style should also be covered in the group.
How to Give Critique: If you have something to say about the work of art being opened for critique, we recommend finding at least one positive thing to say first. Even if the painting is terrible (in your opinion) - try to find one good thing to say before offering the criticism. Give advice in small doses - maybe offer 2 things that could be done to improve the painting or composition. Art critique is intended as a teaching tool to help the artist grow and improve. It is not intended to make anyone feel bad or discouraged. Tread carefully!
How to Receive Critique: This can be hard, especially if you've not experienced it before. Try to remain open to suggestions - don't be defensive. Your peers are trying to help your growth as an artist. Part of the deal is learning to get a thicker skin. This will stand you in good stead later when you decide that your artistic vision is to be defended against all critique! Witness the French Impressionist painters and the chorus of negative feedback they received from the viewing public in the early days. Receiving critique also helps us to form our own opinions about what is important in our art work and why we do it the way we do.
Comments or additional suggestions? Let us know!