It is not enough to be inspired or to even carry through with the work. In order to be truly successful, an artist must be able to evaluate and critically judge their own work.
Critically judging your work isn’t criticizing or hunting for flaws. True critical reflection is the systematic analysis of what you have accomplished combined with goal setting to make improvements. Think of yourself as your own best friend. Would you tell your best friend that their work ‘sucks’ is ‘marginal at best’ or needs ‘serious improvement?’ No. You would gently give sound suggestions and encouragement. Think of self-criticism in the same way.
A critical artist, for instance, can view a figure drawing from their collection and notice areas that need improvement. Perhaps it is the structure of hand or the proportion of features. By analyzing their own work, the artist is able to grow and further develop.
In my own practice, this means critically analyzing key components of a piece. Is the subject appropriate? Are the proportions correct? The values? And so on. Each finished piece is as much a learning tool to the artist as all of the practice pieces, sketches and roughs that came before.
In #BlueHolocaust, for example, I noticed something wasn’t quite right with the portrait of DeAunta Farrow. I new the subject and the proportions were correct. Those had been well planned long before the paper was cut for the piece. It was only after taking a photograph of the art that I was able to see my mistake.
The value of the ultramarine was lighter than the value of the turquoise. It was creating a distortion of the eye, making the ‘lighter’ color seem darker. By adding another layer of ultramarine, I was able to solve the value problem and save the painting.
Critical assessment of ones own work is vital to the artist. The artist may accept constructive criticism from others and should constantly be striving to improve themselves. But the artist is under no obligation to conform to the rules and conscriptions of critics. The very act of creation (be it sculpting a stone or inking a page) is an act of subversion. It is unsurprising then to find the artist breaking beyond the bounds of conformity.
But in order to effectively create, the artist must understand how to evaluate their work and balance that with constructive criticism.
Be sure to share your latest project in the comments below.