Monday, January 26, 2015

Self Critique - Learning to Evaluate Your Own Work - Part 5

The name of this series "Self Critique - Learning to Evaluate Your Own Work" but hopefully there comes a time when you are ready to cut your work free and let it go into the world thus allowing other people to view and make their evaluations of your work.  This coming out could likely be in the form of a juried show.  This is a new way to explore your work and evaluate what you have done in relation to what a specific show prospectus states as their mission.  If the show is interested in geometric abstraction and your work is floral you will want to save your money and keep looking for a better match for your work.  If you do work with geometric abstraction then you might want to check out who is doing the jurying.  Informing yourself about the juror does not insure that they will accept your work but I believe it makes the experience of allowing another person or persons to make a judgement on your work more personal and hopefully more meaningful.

The thing you must work hard to avoid is allowing either a positive or negative outcome to a show entry to influence what how you feel about your work.  I just received a rejection notice for a show I entered.  I was disappointed but I know that there are only so many spaces for any given show and the jurors must make their best choices to fill those spaces with a cohesive and lively representation of what was entered.  I don't think jurors can say they are not swayed by their own prejudices about work they are judging but then that's in some ways what they are hired to do.  

I asked the artist I worked with on this survey if they entered juried shows and how much importance they give to acceptance or rejection.  Here's a sample of their responses.

Jane Allen Nodine:  Yes I do, and I have for over 30 years.  I have been fortunate to be selected for quite a few major national and international competitions, which gets my work out and away from my region.  I don't however give too much weight to competitions because I know the judging process is subjective.

Judy Langille:  Depending on the exhibition and how much I want to be in a show establishes how much importance I put on acceptance or rejection.  The first time I was in Quilt National I had to keep pinching myself in order to believe it.  I actually missed my oldest sons graduation from Law School in order to be there for the festivities.

Leslie Avon Miller:  It always feels better to be accepted than rejected.  Other than the emotional component though, I doubt it means much of anything once you have reached a certain level of expertise.  I think it's more about the judges and the specific show than it is about the quality of the work.

Leslie Riley:  I am pleased and honored when accepted into an exhibition and disappointed when rejected.  I am well aware of the subjective nature of a juried exhibition so I do not take the results personally.  Rejection does not devalue my art.  Shows are an opportunity for exposure and recognition.


I hope you have been enjoying this series.  Next week I will be wrapping it up with my list of points to keep in mind relating to Self Critique.

Thank you for stopping by
Studio 24-7!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Self Critique - Learning to Evaluate Your Own Work - Part 4

Have you ever had the experience of having an amazing day in your studio where you feel you are on a cloud and can do no wrong then have a spouse, friend or the delivery man show up, see what you are doing and with one off-hand remark bring your world crashing down?  If so, you are not alone.  I have listened to more than one conversation where a person describes that they really like to work with with abstract compositions but their spouse doesn't understand them and prefers more pictorial work so that's what they do.  What!!!!  Who's the artist here?  If this is where you are in your art life you have a long way to go to fulfill your personal vision and make your best work.

We are all tender about our work.  At least in the beginning when we haven't established a direction or build our art muscles but off-hand remarks or disparaging remarks by people we love and or respect (such as workshop teachers or other artist friends) can be painful and potentially damaging.  We can shrink back from our inspirations and discoveries to safer ground never to venture to these ideas again.  So I asked the artists involved in this project: Do you allow other people to critique your work?  If so, who?  How do you decide who has this priviledge?

Jeanne Raffer Beck responded regarding serious, invited critiques and says, "Each person who has given me input on my work has provided a clue or key to some question that I have had. I realize that artists vary in their aesthetics, focus and ability to communicate ideas, so I do temper their critiques with the understanding that I am the creator and need to make my own choices."

Several people mentioned critique groups or groups of artists to which they belong as being sources of feedback.  Judy Langille says, " I belong to two critique groups.  Some of the people are very good at this and others are not that helpful.  I have been in one group for many years so I have a lot of trust in them.  One of my sons is a painter and he is probably my most thoughtful and helpful critic.  He has taken the time to understand my processes and is very helpful to me in evaluating my work.  I sometimes wait to see him before I continue on a piece."

Another participant, Christine Mauersberger, had a slightly different response.  She felt it was important to have people who know her area and are aligned to textiles or contemporary art.  She further stated that she did not want to waste her time with people who are not actively involved in some form of formal art critique in their own lives.  She explained that she waits for people she respects and seeks opportunities to have private conversations.

Another question I posted was, "How Affected are you by criticism of other people especially if it is coming from someone you respect?"  I want to remind you that all of the artists responding are professional and have been working for many years in their chosen fields.

Jane Nodine said, " I'm an observer and I always take things into consideration.  Most of that material is filed away in mind, and then it percolates to the surface in the work process.  Criticism by others is not something of emphasis for me because I have my own critical standards and I'm my hardest critic."

Leslie Avon Miller responded, "I can be blown off course by mean spirited or misguided criticism, so I don't invite just any old person to comment on my art.  I learned long ago not to expect my family to get it.  I try to be curious, very curious.  Why do they think that I wonder? But that only comes a few days later."

Others mentioned connecting with other artists on Facebook, blogs and people they have known for years and whose opinions they trust.

The most important thing is to hold your ideas and creations close until you feel strong enough to understand and trust your own feelings of the worth of your creativity.

Thank you for stopping by
Studio 24-7.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Self Critique - Learning to Evaluate You Own Work - Part 3

A nice surprise for the New Year, I just noticed that this is either my 400th or 401st post here at Studio 24-7!  Wow.  I had no idea when I began that I would get this far.  I promise to stop when I don't feel I have anything interesting or meaningful to say or I just need to put my time into other things.

So Self Critique.  I've spoken a great deal about looking and studying what you have done but what are you looking for?  In my original questions to the artists involved I asked several questions relating to this.

1.  What kinds of elements do you look for in a successful piece?  Good composition?  Good color? A sense of content or theme? How the work fits into your body of work? etc. ( I should have said great composition, great color, content and theme and a relationship to your current body of work or a new direction)

While each of these questions can be answered with a simple response, the deeper answers are not so simple.  I think all of the mentioned elements are important and contribute to making a work of art complete and a work with quality.  While each element will be dealt with differently by each individual artists, each element must be there (in my opinion).  I have to say here that there is a world of work being made today that doesn't address any of these issues.  You can see this work in many of the still published art magazines.  Most of that work does not interest me and I cannot address its' making.

I am of the opinion that art always has content but that content may not make itself known until the artist is deep into the work.  Content does not have to be a "story" or a recognizable series of objects.  It doesn't have to be photographic or easily understood or recognized.  It can be flexible, elusive, secret or very non-objective. It can express feelings, emotions, relationships, dreams etc. etc.

As to design, the elements in your work will always have a relationship to one another but the design can be off handed or considered,  good or awful ... generally the good is more appealing and should support your ideas better.  

Color is an element that expresses emotion like no other.  It is also the element that most people use poorly.  If you want to be a good colorist you may have to do a lot of study, experimentation, more looking and use a very critical eye when looking at your work and the work of those you admire.  Are the colors quiet, loud, strange, ordinary, pale, bright, eye popping, subtle, and again etc. etc.  There is more to it than giving the color wheel a spin but that is a place to start.

Working in a series is a very positive way to develop your work and add depth to your body of work.  I'm not talking about a series which is made of 99 pieces so similar that one can't be identified from another but work that shows the development of an idea.  I will also say that how big the leap is from one piece to another by any given artist is very individual (even if it's 99 pieces you can't tell apart from one another).  Some people work in a very lateral way and others move forward quickly.  Either is great but jumping from one style or technique to another in every piece will leave you drained and with no direction.

2.  Is there a "something special" that completes a work that is more elusive than the identifiable elements of design?

This is a more difficult question.  Several of the artists responded that the "something special" was simply that there wasn't anything else for them to do.  This is where giving yourself time to view and absorb your work will come in handy.  Several also mentioned looking and experiencing a feeling of satisfaction or excitement.  I personally believe this "feeling" is some of the things that keeps us going.  I played golf for a brief time.  I recall one shot where I hit the ball in what is called the "sweet spot" and how amazing that specific shot felt.  It is sometimes what keeps golfers playing as golf is a difficult game.  So when you get it right in a work perhaps that is a type of sweet spot.  I think you also know when a piece is done when it pushes you ahead to a new work.  New York artist Pat Pauley responded , " Successful works are more than the sum of their elemental design parts.  But I would not be able to describe that!"  Rebecca Howdeshell says she is always looking for a resolution where every mark or design choice contributes to the whole.  She further states that if she feels the work has moved her forward in her search she is happy.

And lastly:

3.  When do you know a work is resolved?  What does resolved mean to you?

One good response to this was given by Rebecca, that you may feel a piece is resolved when it moves you ahead in your work.  I often think of my life's work as a road or path.  Sometimes the path peters out or you don't like where you end up or every piece leads to another and it is exciting and fulfilling.  The important thing is that it doesn't become stale or ho-hum.  There are artists whose work is so expected that I just can't look at it any more.  My personal belief is they just don't have anything more to say but it has gotten very comfortable in one spot (especially if they have received recognition for a specific way of working.)  If you complete a piece and you aren't sure if it is all you want it to be then likely it isn't all it should be OR you need to spend more time with the piece.....we are back to looking.

Happy New Year to each of you and thank you for spending time with me here at
Studio 24-7.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Santa With A Gun Is Not A New Concept

A poster from the Office for Emergency Management, War Production Board, circa. 1942 - See more at:

This week I saw a news report about a billboard out west somewhere featuring Santa hold an assault rifle.  The business which sponsored the ad said it was a positive image as Santa didn't have his finger on the trigger.  Give me a break.  Why can't people leave somethings alone and let us have a moments rest from all the violence in the world.

This morning I was looking for an image to feature here for the week and found a sight that has an interesting history of how Santa Clause has "evolved".  The images are in the public domain and there I found the one I've posted here.  It reads, "In the U.S. Second World War poster below Santa takes a radical departure from the jolly red suit and dons the dour shades of war. - See more at:".  I guess the billboard wasn't so unique after all.

Thomas Nast’s most famous drawing, “Merry Old Santa Claus”, from the January 1, 1881 edition of Harper’s Weekly. - See more at:

I'd like to say that I find the idea of an "armed" santa offensive.  I prefer the idea of the jolly ole elf puffing his pipe (with tobacco) giving toys to good little boys and girls not being used for propaganda of a government agency or a commercial business.  There is nothing wrong with enjoying a fair tale even if for a little while.

Merry Christmas to you all and my all your holiday dreams come true.

Monday, December 15, 2014

"The 100" Fundraiser for The American Cancer Society

Leaving the Solar System
Terry Jarrard-Dimond
Fabric, charcoal, ink and stitching - 15" x 15" - 2014

Join me for "The 100" to be held on Wednesday, February 4, 2015. The goal for this fiber fundraiser for the American Cancer Society is to raise $10,000 in one day.   My piece "Leaving the Solar System" is one of the 100 pieces being offered.

How do you participate? All the details are here:

It's really an extraordinary line-up of international fiber artists. I'm sure you will want to be one of the very exclusive 100 patrons.

Fiberart For A Cause has already raised $240,000 through the generosity of fiber artists and patrons.

Thank you for stopping by
Studio 24-7
I love hearing from you and appreciate your comments.
Be sure and checkout this excellent fundraising event!