The Give And Take Of Critiques

MT McClanahan

An artist and perpetual thinker, MT McClanahan finds inspiration through connecting ideas across a broad range of topics. He especially enjoys philosophy and how art and life interconnect. He is the founder of TPT and his paintings can be seen at

4 Responses

  1. Dawn Fetty says:

    When I have been critiqued in the past…I feel like people are just trying to be “nice”…and I walk away feeling like I’ve wasted my time…Honesty with kindness…and I can even get that everyone will see things differently…but honestly, I’ve given up on critiques….

    • Dawn, don’t give up on them, I personally think they help. If you respect the person’s opinion giving it then I would welcome it. If they are a serious artist they will give you honest feedback.

      Expectations are important here–I wouldn’t expect most people to give me honest, helpful feedback (unless I specifically urged them to). I see a “critique” as a more formal affair. If you expect a good critique and just get warm fuzzies, then I would feel the same as you I think–disappointed.

      I am always reminded of the words, “With many advisors”, meaning it helps one succeed.

  2. Steve says:

    As an instructor, it has been my goal to make sure that the critique is a dialogue. I found myself 1) looking intently at the work in question (and it was always about the work, not the artist). 2) Asking about the the work and listening intently to the answers. 3) Offering to share what I see, 4) listening to the questions the artist asks, 5) Offering suggestions and seeing together, where they might lead.

    I try always tob ask if this was helpful and to suggest that if it wasn’t, to throw it away. (Almost impossible to do, of course, but necessary to undermine the pretense that accompanies a “critic”.

    It was, is, and should be hard work if both “critic” and “artist” are to benefit.
    Just my opinion.

    • And a great opinion it is Steve. How one approaches something is important–I like the idea of it being a “dialogue”. But should there be any pretense? If I were a student taking a critique I would humble myself to that teacher’s advise, and at least try to see things his way. It always bothered me when I would advise a student on something and they would argue with me to the contrary. A give and take is fine, but some would never let their egos allow them to see.

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