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Asking your opinion

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Asking your opinion

Mesaj  Admin la data de Dum Mar 01, 2009 3:33 pm

February 27, 2009

Painters who give workshops will know what I'm talking about. You can walk into a room with a bunch of folks busily painting, pick up almost any work-in-progress and, after a minute or two, put your finger on things that will improve it. Sometimes this snap opinion happens so fast that the student is a bit upset. "Why didn't I see that?" they ask.

Fact is, any other set of eyes--providing there is no corrupting axe to grind or personal itinerary in need of stroking--can do the job. Different instructors opt for different approaches. Some, when asked, condense to two or three verbal tips. Others chalk in or point out potential modifications. Still others appropriate the student brush and demo on the job.

In light of this, I'd like to do a little experiment. Last night I started a small sketch of a remembered woodland creek. We've illustrated the painting in three stages at the top of the current clickback. For those who might care to join in, I'm interested in getting your quick opinions and suggestions. Even if it takes Michelle or Samantha all weekend to tabulate the results, we're going to find out our degree of agreement and disagreement. I want you to know that I wasn't thinking of this experiment when I started painting the thing, nor was I trying to lay compositional or other traps for people to find. I was simply trying to paint my best and bring the thing along. It's not a work of genius. Like all my efforts, it's an exercise.

This being said, we have also to look at the usefulness of getting the opinions of others in the first place. What does it serve? How harmful is it? In the long run, does the exercise encourage the creator and the critic to eventually reside in one person?

We also need to see the problems when trying to verbalize non-verbal activities. Further, we must be concerned about the problems associated with any sort of questionnaire. Are we really able to say what we actually think? Come on, we don't know each other that well. Be frank.

I've always suggested to artists that they teach themselves to be their own best critics. This is what I feel to be the mark of a true pro. Like you, I've sat on a few committees. Do committees ever work?

Best regards,

Robert

PS: "All of us, at certain moments of our lives, need to take advice and to receive help from others." (Alexis Carrel) "Good but rarely came from good advice." (Lord Byron)

Esoterica: The more I struggle, the more I believe that it's simply a matter of making small gains. As in any pursuit, there are days when there are none and days where there are some. Keeping things simple and digging up two or three improvements at a time seems to me to be a significant key to progress. Further, I believe brief input is best--whether widely broadcast, confided to an individual, or generously given to the eager and receptive self. "Whatever advice you give, be brief." (Horace)
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Current clickback: Conspicuous consumption contains reader responses and live comments on Thorstein Veblen's ideas of beauty, expense, rarity, and the business of demonstrating wealth. It also includes two shots of a painting up for slaughter.

Read this letter online. Please feel free to give your own insights, opinions, and if you wish, a critique on Robert's unfinished effort. Illustratable comments can also be made at rgenn@saraphina.com.

Facebook: Michelle Moore, 20, who manages our free links, thought my face would be okay for Facebook. She put the letter there too. Please go here. Now she's done it again for twitter.

If a friend of yours is trying to subscribe to the Twice-Weekly letter via Constant Contact, please let them know that as well as subscribing they must confirm their subscription by replying to the email they will be receiving from Constant Contact. This is to prevent it going to people who really don't want it.

Featured Responses: Alternative to the instant Live Comments, Featured Responses are illustrated and edited for content. If you would like to submit your own for possible inclusion, please do so. Just click 'reply' on this letter or write to rgenn@saraphina.com.
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