The Value of Critiques: Ready or Not, Here I Come!

by victoriadanner on July 27, 2009

I have been reading the thread on Orchid about critiques with great interest. I think there is an opportunity here for all of us to learn something. People offering their work for review as well as those offering the critique stand to benefit. It can teach the principles of art and the elements of design required for a well executed piece and it can teach how to give a critique.

I can’t put it any better than Donna Wilson did in her post, so I will simply reprint it here.

The Value of Critiques

From: Donna Wilson

Dave makes a good point here:

> It seems to me the value of a critique depends somewhat on the
> person giving it & the respect the recipient has for that person.

When I was in art school 10 years ago each project completed for a class came with a critique by students and instructor. The basic fundamentals of art were taught with particular emphasis for each media… Elements of Art: Line, shape, form, color, texture, value, depth, space Principles of Design: composition, rhythm, pattern, repetition, unity, emphasis, balance, composition Works were critiqued with these fundamentals in mind. Critiques were done in the impersonal mode and were based on the above vocabulary and concepts. We never said “I like… or you didn’t…”; critique was all about the work. In jewelry classes, the workmanship was also discussed. As Dave said, there was respect for the recipient and everyone knew that the critique was not personal; it was to help the artist do better work. In the classroom setting, everyone had the same background. In other settings, critique could work as long as those giving the critique adhere to the same principles.

Donna in VA

So, let’s try to adhere to these principles and to get this ball rolling I am offering up my own work.

A little background info might be relevant. I taught a couple of cold connection workshops this past winter and it got me jazzed up about making some new cold connection work of my own. Sometimes I’m really into texture and this became one of those times! Here is one piece I thought was pretty successful. I’d like to hear what you think is successful and what is not about it




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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

victoriadanner August 1, 2009 at 7:47 pm

Your comment about being brave was very sweet. I guess it does take a bit of bravery to open up like this on such a large forum! Basically, I try to trust the moment- and the folks here.

If I’m a bit fearful of something I think may, in the long run, benefit me or others, I try to face it and plow forward. I have to say, I have discovered some wonderful things by doing so-but not always pain free btw !! I asked myself what I think is the worst thing that could happen- and- can I handle it if it happens. I figured the worst that could happen here is a bit of minor ego death and yeah, I think I can handle it 🙂

Mary Partlan August 1, 2009 at 1:19 pm

Having recently completed some classes on riveting, cold connections and texturing I enjoyed viewing your bracelet, which I like very much visually. However, like most bracelets I see and like, I would hesitate to buy it because of the weight balance. When the center is the largest and most visually attractive part the weight invariably pulls it to the bottom, or underside, of your wrist after the first few minutes of wearing – leaving the clasp as the most visible piece of the bracelet. Your clasp is attractive, but I don’t think you meant it to be the focal point. I try, whenever possible, to weight my bracelets near the clasp so the prettier center piece remains at the top.

I realize this is more a personal pet peeve of mine, and I see it in most commercially sold jewelry stores, but that doesn’t make me wrong and them right. You and others are of course free to disagree with me.

Jamie King July 31, 2009 at 7:50 pm

Thanks for being so brave.

Victoria Woollen-Danner July 31, 2009 at 6:17 pm

I think if you click on the photo and when it appears click again and it will get bigger. If that doesn’t work for you, let me know and I will try to figure out what to do next!

Elaine July 31, 2009 at 4:28 pm

Hi Victoria, the pictures are really not big enough. Could you please post them larger? I’m really not sure what I’m seeing.

Thank you!

Beth Wicker July 31, 2009 at 8:30 am

The repetition of the main link elements works well. The bar over the main element does not tie into anything else in the composition. Repeating this somewhere in some way would strengthen your composition.

The silver spirals do repeat, but are so different in form and in line from anything else in the composition that they really stand out. I would prefer to see other similar things to tie them in and tone them down, or have them removed entirely.

The silver showing around the edges of the link pieces is erratic, but not sufficiently erratic as to work visually for me. As someone said in a post on finishing, the human mind wants to find patterns. I feel that your links either need to be uniform, or so erratic there is obviously no pattern, and the amount of silver on the edges falls between those extremes. That said the roughness works very well with the overall textures in the piece.

I have a BA and an MFA, have been an artist and have taught for over 30 years from pre-school through college level. I am experienced in painting, printmaking, papermaking, fiber arts, and jewelry.

Victoria Woolen-Danner July 30, 2009 at 1:38 pm

Thanks for taking the time for your critiques.

Donna, I think I should solder the links you mentioned. The jump rings are actually pretty substantial but of course would be better soldered closed. I was worrying about the effect heat might have on the bracelet so I avoided doing it, even when I knew should! – it helps to hear someone point out something I know needs attention but was feeling a bit lazy about and ignored. I have to give myself pep talks occasionally, such as “you’ve put this much time in it, don’t get lax about the details now!!”

I don’t think the center ball will catch on anything. My test is to run the piece over my clothes and see if it catches. A very loose weave sweater might be a problem however.

I’ve never used the double spirals much for links on bracelets so the wire was hardened before I made them hoping it would help strengthen them and folded them as close to their base as they would go. I was a bit worried about them catching on something and coming up,too.

Helen, the bar was purely for decorative interest and to add a bit of silver for balance. I also wanted to set the center piece off a bit from the other links. btw, I make the center link first then draw from the elements I used in it for the others. I did feel putting the strip on the other, smaller links did cover up too much of the fold formed copper.

Thanks again and if anyone else has comments I would like to hear them.

Donna Wilson July 28, 2009 at 12:39 pm

Critique was done in class in this way:
Good repetition and rhythm in the forms. Variety in color, pattern, texture and value (patina) adds overall interest to the bracelet. Unity and balance are working well. Unusual links add visual interest. Good use of rivets as both a decorative and uniting element. To consider: could the balled wire on the center element catch on clothing and could the domed silver links pull apart (the separation visible makes them appear weak)?
Background: 25 years in the classroom; I teach university level Spanish. Have taught workshops in etching, hydraulic pressing and enamels.

Helen Hill July 28, 2009 at 10:31 am

I really like the contrasting colours of the different metals used and I love the various textures used in the piece – fold-formed, hammered, etc. I also like the fact that it has five elements rather than an even number – much more pleasing.

The only thing I’m not as keen on, is the “bar” piece across the main element of the bracelet. I’m presuming that is there more for engineering purposes? For me, it may have looked better with more of the fold-formed copper showing, as in the other elements. Just my opinion, others may like that piece.

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