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Read to the end for our Master Oil Painting Thanksgiving fun! #Thanks4Critique



Who’s your Kristie?

Don’t know who Kristie is you say – then you probably haven’t watched my videos.

Kristie is my wife, and my greatest source of honest critique for my artwork!

She comes in to critique my paintings and spot flaws and problems that I miss.  As an artist, I can suffer from a bit of tunnel vision as I create.  It’s her fresh eyes that let me know when I’m done with a piece.  Nothing comes off my easel unless it’s “Kristie Approved” (I should probably get a stamp made to add that to the back of my paintings).

I must admit, there have been times when I was less than excited after hearing her comments. In fact, I sometimes get pretty glum because something I may have just spent hours perfecting ends up being good as a practice exercise, but not good for the painting.

Occasionally I am so attached to a special place in my painting that when she gives the thumbs down I actually question her judgement – “are you sure you weren’t knocked off your horse as a kid by a tree that looked just like that one, and now you’re taking it out on my beautiful tree?”

Other times I get the feeling that something is wrong, but worry that I don’t have the skills or vision to improve it. So, I resort to ‘it’s good enough’ or “with all the other wonderful parts of the painting nobody will even notice.” Or even worse, I leave it because I’m afraid I might mess up the parts I like about the painting if I try to fix it.

Kristie forces me to overcome my fear of losing what I love about the painting and reminds me that fear always stops progress and learning. She may not always know the particulars of what needs to be fixed, but she knows when something is wrong and gives me the courage to make the change.

Don’t expect your ‘Kristie’, or friend, to offer any great insights about how to fix your artwork either. A good eye can spot needed changes, but that’s not the same as knowing how to make it right.

Kristie may come in and tell me, “It’s just not working”.  When I ask her what I need to do to fix it she says “I don’t know, you’re the artist, figure it out”.   Not always music to my ears, but nonetheless – after I throw an inner-child tantrum – I pick up my brush and figure it out, because she’s right, I am the artist.

Being an artist can be a solitary experience.  It’s nice when we have a mentor, friend, or family member that will give us straightforward and honest feedback.

The dictionary defines critique as: ‘evaluate (a theory or practice) in a detailed and analytical way’. Sounds good huh?

Yes, critique originates from the word ‘criticize’, but a good art critique will never be demeaning.

As artists we can get a bit sensitive to anyone ‘attacking’ the creative expression of our hearts – our artwork. That’s why we, and the person/s we choose to be our second set of eyes, need to understand the true nature of a critique. It is something that will help us grow our skills and knowledge as artists, and will hopefully be a positive experience.

We are in control of what influences we allow in our studio space – let’s make them positive – even when we need a critique.

And let’s express on a regular basis how grateful we are for those who give us counsel, courage and confidence to climb this precarious path.

It’s important for us to realize that being asked to offer a critique can often feel like they’re being asked to slap your friend – they usually don’t relish the experience.  Kristie has endured many a moment of me going from excited to show off my work to “where’s a good corner for me to curl up in and die?” Fortunately, she loves me and continues to endure the torture.

I am very grateful for my Kristie!

Who’s yours?

Here’s our Thanksgiving challenge to help us grow as artists:

  1. Create something beautiful this week.
  2. Ask your ‘Kristie’ for an all-out honest critique of your work. If you don’t have someone yet then ask anyone that you trust (friend, co-worker, neighbor, sibling, etc).
  3. Make the recommended changes! It doesn’t matter how much you love the piece, or how bad you think their advice is, just do it. They may even be wrong, but learning to let go and accept criticism will make us all better artists.
  4. Post your before and after critique images on using #Thanks4Critique. *For the 6 Week Course and Monthly Members post to the closed Facebook group Mastering Oil Painting instead

Happy Painting!

PS. Part 2 comes next week!