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Janel

Critique

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The need for this discussion has blossomed in a thread begun by Sergio who has been working on dead leaves. The post following this one was moved from that topic to here, to discontinue the diversion on Sergio's topic.

 

Lets us examine what every member understands about critique, criticism, constructive criticism, or the need for not just offering accolades whether deserved or not in each person's opinions.

 

I wish to point out that each carver on the forum is at one's own unique level of development, and needs our comments differentiated according to their growing abilities. Pointing out the failures of the forum members for a giving uniformly positive cheer for a successful step is not helpful. Let us try to give the members some tools to work with so that commentary following the posting of new works will be positive and not destructive, or benign in their compliments.

 

Janel

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I have moved the content of member "Claire" to this forum topic to seed the discussion begun on Sergio's 'dead leaves' topic. I was not able to figure out how to actually move her whole post with her name and links to her PM access, so have copied and pasted just the content here.

 

Janel

 

(Janel @ Feb 9 2010, 01:49 PM) *

Other members,

 

It really is not necessary to point out the shortcomings of the membership who are trying to encourage a carver who is improving as he carves, and is daring to put his work out for us to see. Encouragement goes a long way when aimed at someone who is showing signs of growth with each piece, as does constructive criticism. Pointing out the failures of everyone else is not constructive in this process. Let us please focus on the carver and offer suggestions and incite from our own experiences that may actually help the carver to grow. Is that not our ultimate goal here on the forum

Janel

 

P.S. I agree with Jim about a separate thread on the subject of critique.

 

 

With respect Janel, I disagree. Telling a carver wishing to improve their work that something is "perfect" when it clearly isn't (especially when that critique is coming from a established carver) does NOT encourage, it merely misinforms and ultimately hampers the carvers potential development.

Pointing this out as previous posters and myself have done is not only constructive but an absolute necessity if the the goal of this forum is in fact (?) to help a carver grow.

 

 

Claire

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Both encouragement and critique are important to the growth of any artist, as any art student knows from their own training days. There are ways to give a critique. Probably the best way is to involve asking questions of the person who has put up the piece of work. That, together with pointing out what jars in the opinion of the critique-giver and maybe some helpful suggestions, may well start off further thought processes for the artist.

 

Of course, the exercise means that tact needs to be employed, but sometimes a straight comment will get through much quicker. It's difficult to offer the latter on a talkboard because the recipient misses the tones of voice and inflections which may accompany them in real life and may then misjudge them as aggressive, but that's not to say it shoudn't occasionally be undertaken.

 

What is not helpful is encouragement only: nobody progresses far if that's the only response to posting a piece.

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Hi all. I think that critic is necessary to grow. Leon tell me a good critic , and in my mind i feel what he says. Since the begining, i know that this leaf is not like the first, it's rigid. The kind words are very sympathics, it help us to feel good. But when an other carver takes time to see what you do, compares your different works, and tell you his feeling, i think that it is a compliment. If you don't want critic, you don't show what you do ! And if sometime the critic is clumsy , don't worry and try to understand what want to say your speaker. I tell that because i think that sometimes i'm clumsy , i don't speak very well english and it's hard to say exactly what i think.

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Seems I did it again.

(Sergio your english is good enough, you have no idea how long it takes me to write a reply!)

 

What did I do?

It's true, I was wondering why experienced carvers did not mention or did not see what was wrong (or less good) with his latest carving.

I hesitated a long time to tell him, but wanted to help him. Perhaps I should not have said the 'nice' sentence, but yes, I was upset by the lack of help for Sergio. He deserved a good advice, he took it well. So yes, maybe you all should be a little ashamed!

(If you don't want to help, why replying?) No harm done to Sergio, don't know about egos.

 

Tell me not to criticize and I will shut up, that's a promise.

 

Leon

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Criticism done in the right way can facilitate growth. But don't just say I don't like your work, explain why and what you think should be done to correct the problem.

 

Unless you just criticize to be mean I think it will help us to be truthful.

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fkvesi -- wrote ---

 

{Of course, the exercise means that tact needs to be employed, but sometimes a straight comment will get through much quicker. It's difficult to offer the latter on a talkboard because the recipient misses the tones of voice and inflections which may accompany them in real life and may then misjudge them as aggressive, but that's not to say it shoudn't occasionally be undertaken.

What is not helpful is encouragement only: nobody progresses far if that's the only response to posting a piece. }

 

Very well said.

 

I do think that we live in an oversensitive world these days.

We tend to worry too much that we may offend another.

These very words ---

{It's difficult to offer the latter on a talkboard because the recipient misses the tones of voice and inflections which may accompany them in real life and may then misjudge them as aggressive, but that's not to say it shoudn't occasionally be undertaken. } --- should be well considered here.

 

Also, let us keep in mind the general "whole" of this forum.

As a unique a community as I have ever seen in my travels in life.

Those creating, sharing, jesting, helping caring. From all walks of life. Working through artistic problems, and language barriers.

That is something all here should be very proud of.

 

Oh, and there are those like me that come to drool over the marvels I see all you folks creating.

 

Don wrote --

{Unless you just criticize to be mean I think it will help us to be truthful. }

 

I do agree.

 

My wife criticizes me at times. I call it my ration of "Hot tongue and Cold Shoulder".

uh -- well there is always tomorrow Dear.

Did I mention there is also humour found on this forum? Oh yes - jesting.

 

Good topic Janel.

 

Bill

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Hello everyone! :)

I think the opinion of every of us is very important for a beginner.

I want to explain my positive opinion without critic.

First of all, Sergio is studying the nature, natural dry leaves, and he is elaborating his own style without imitation of style of another artist. It is very right way for a beginner who wants to have individualism in his work! His last leaf shows us that his skill is better. To discuss about design or composition is very difficult problem, we all have to think about many nuances, as (again) individualism, style, vision and etc. of artist, in order to not change his vision in way liked by another artist. Many artists - many tastes! ;)

The second moment, Sergio's leaf is co-ordinate with the Japanese philosophy of Art, Shibui. In Wikipedia we can read so:

"Shibui or Shibumi is a Japanese word which refers to a particular

aesthetic of simple, subtle, and unobtrusive beauty.

Originating in the Muromachi period (1333-1568) as shibushi, the term

originally referred to a sour or astringent taste, such as that of an

unripe persimmon. Shibui maintains that literal meaning still, and

remains the antonym of amai, meaning 'sweet'..........

Expert singers, actors, potters, and artists of all other sorts were

often said to be shibui; their expertise caused them to do things

beautifully without making them excessive or gaudy....."

The full text is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shibui

So, I don't have any critic, everything goes right in my personal understanding of this leaf! :)

 

Leon, your opinion is very important for us! It is interesting why You think so: "Your latest one is quite different, good technique but design-wise a mistake." Could You please make your thought clearer,

where is a mistake? It would be very helpful if You, Leon, show us your own work that might be a parallel example, as instruction how to decide the design task in a sculpture (leaf)!

 

Clair, it is good to see You in this very important discussion! :) Personally for me, it would be interesting if You share with us your knowledge in this difficult subject as dry leaves!

 

Sergio has a question, what dyes would be better for the dry leaves? Can anybody help? My experiments with dyes are more with mammoth tusk, I can only share just this knowledge, but I feel that

my knowledge how to stain box-wood is not enough and full, that's why I cannot give helpful advise. Let's wait the help of other artists working more with box-wood! :)

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Leon, your opinion is very important for us! It is interesting why You think so: "Your latest one is quite different, good technique but design-wise a mistake." Could You please make your thought clearer...

????

Sergio understood me, why should experienced carvers not?

 

 

(It's good to see that wikipedia is helpful to you ;) )

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In post #6 of Sergio's Dead Leaves thread he says, "I think I must carve leaves more tortured". Seemed to me that he was on the path of self-discovery before anyone else's critique.

 

Also,Leon, it seems quite dangerous when we consider our opinions to be so factual that others should be ashamed if they don't hold them too.

 

Jim

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hello Jim.

 

please do not mind me asking, but does this mean you do not agree with the arguments of leon?

it would be nice to hear about this more, would be of great value to the discussion.

 

regards, alice.

(i stil have not introduced me properly, i will do soon. language is difficult, as is computers!)

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In post #6 of Sergio's Dead Leaves thread he says, "I think I must carve leaves more tortured". Seems like he got the inspiration looking at Kodo's work before anyone else's critique to that similar effect.

 

Also, it seems quite dangerous when we consider our opinions to be so factual that others should be ashamed if they don't hold them too.

 

Jim

When carving, perhaps we should hold ourselves true to the artistic statement that WE want to put forth. (Abilities factored in of course).

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In post #6 of Sergio's Dead Leaves thread he says, "I think I must carve leaves more tortured". Seems like he got the inspiration looking at Kodo's work before anyone else's critique to that similar effect.

 

Also, it seems quite dangerous when we consider our opinions to be so factual that others should be ashamed if they don't hold them too.

 

Jim

 

Really Jim. If you do feel the need to offer a critique on where Sergio got his inspiration from, I think you should just say it straight up yourself rather than suggesting that somebody else might say something to that effect. Sergio has clearly stated that he did look at Kodo's leaves after Tom brought them to his attention, so its seems a bit petty to now try to make a point about it yourself.

 

I also note that you said in the Sergio leaf thread:

"I would suggest opening a separate thread on the subject of critique in respect for Sergio's thread.

Even though otherwise stated by Phil, it does appear, because of Leon's critique, that the subsequent comments are directed toward Sergio and the tone of his thread.

Jim"

 

I don't understand why you are now offering new critique on Sergio's work in the thread specifically created to discuss critique.

 

Claire

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Really Jim. If you do feel the need to offer a critique on where Sergio got his inspiration from, I think you should just say it straight up yourself rather than suggesting that somebody else might say something to that effect. Sergio has clearly stated that he did look at Kodo's leaves after Tom brought them to his attention, so its seems a bit petty to now try to make a point about it yourself.

 

I also note that you said in the Sergio leaf thread:

"I would suggest opening a separate thread on the subject of critique in respect for Sergio's thread.

Even though otherwise stated by Phil, it does appear, because of Leon's critique, that the subsequent comments are directed toward Sergio and the tone of his thread.

Jim"

 

I don't understand why you are now offering new critique on Sergio's work in the thread specifically created to discuss critique.

 

Claire

 

Claire, my point really was that Sergio had made a statement about being inspired to make his leaves "more tortured", regardless of my thought about where he got it, which to me is irrelevant, other than the timing. The real point being that he expressed his inspiration early in the thread, before the subsequent comments.

 

I'm not offering critique of Sergio's work at all, in fact, he seems to be quite capable of teasing out what he needs quite gracefully from all of this, and where-else he may, without comment on my part.

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When carving, perhaps we should hold ourselves true to the artistic statement that WE want to put forth. (Abilities factored in of course).

 

Mike, I couldn't agree more. If I understand you correctly, it's irrelevant to me where inspiration comes from, as long as it's coming.

 

Jim

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Thank you all for launching into this topic.

 

The topic again is: Critique, Lets discuss the concept here

 

The trail has led away from discussing the concept of critique, so please move forward and provide insight into the skills of offering critique to peers and students.

 

For instance, from the archives about three years ago:

Critique Guidelines, From various sources

 

Janel

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But this topic is about to criticize or not, not about inspirations.

 

Sorry if I skewed the premise of the thread, but I think that this goes to the heart of it. The question to me Leon, seems not only whether to criticize or not, it is, more importantly, how to go about it. Certainly technical mistakes can be corrected rather forthrightly. Critique in matters of aesthetics and taste I would say takes a great deal of sensitivity and understanding of someone personally, and I've come to think that it's nearly impossible on an internet forum. This is why I almost never make more than an encouraging remark unless it's explicitly asked for, not, as has been suggested, for reasons of confusing or discouraging others, and securing my own position. (a rather rude assumption without any evidence)

 

Is critique meant to correct or inspire? in one of my dictionaries the verb inspire is defined as: "fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something, esp. to do something creative." My own bias if I give a critique would be to inspire rather than correct, especially in the realms of taste and aesthetics that are almost entirely subjective. Such inspiration is to me the object of criticism but I can understand if others have a different view.

 

In giving a critique I think that what's most important is not what you say but what the other will hear.

 

Jim

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In giving a critique I think that what's most important is not what you say but what the other will hear.

 

Quite, unfortunately neither Janel, Natasha or yourself seem to be very up to date on current thinking on this matter. I suggest you start with Carol Dweck, a professor of developmental psychology at Stanford University and author of "Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

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Hi all, thanks for the information Natasha. Kodo's leaves is a "point", an aim, very far away for me, and i must get over many stages , my latest leaf is just one of these stages. The most important thing is : i'm happy when i carve ! and i hope for a long length

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A long teaching history learned me a lot about inspiring. I praise(d) only when deserved, I was/am always kind and nice, but there is a big difference.

Design is very good to teach, to learn. Like any other technique. It is not "but I feel this different", it's almost straight, down to earth. (This is really difficult in English, no excuse, I'm simply not good enough in it.)

 

"Is critique meant to correct or inspire"

Both or none, I ment it to help someone forward. Positive and polite, that's what counts.

 

"In giving a critique I think that what's most important is not what you say but what the other will hear."

Disagree. Even precisely formulating is no weapon against stupidity. Any speaker/teacher can do no more as trying to be as clear as possible.

Too many people will always and only hear what they want to hear.

 

"Critique in matters of aesthetics and taste I would say takes a great deal of sensitivity and understanding of someone personally, and I've come to think that it's nearly impossible on an internet forum. "

Beside that aestetics has almost nothing to do with taste, you are right. But please keep trying, lots of good teachers on this forum, show them!

I owe tcp a lot, really.

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I'm always very reluctant to offer any critique on the forum, primarily because I feel that a small low-resolution of someone's three-dimensional sculpture, which appears to me in two dimensions, usually out of scale, is not a sufficient representation of the piece. It is only an image, and in the world of sculpture, presence and proximity are very important.

 

There have been many times when I have seen a photo of an object, then seen it in a museum exhibit, only to have a completely different feeling from it in person.

 

Secondly, I am rarely clear on what the creator of the work presented really intended to do or say, both technically, and from an emotional or intillectual point of view. Without knowing, I am afraid that I might be pushing my own personal style as part of my critique. You are quite right, Leon, in that aesthetics are pretty much universal, though there are other specific influences which can affect an aesthetical critique.

 

Finally, although pretty much everyone here can functionally communicate in English, the language is VERY subtle, and direct at the same time. When I was studying French, I was in an environment where other people were learning other languages. As a result, I learned quite a bit about my own language from those studying it.

 

The most difficult thing about understanding English, something which frustrates the French to no end, is that so much of it is implied, much more so than in many other languages. That is to say, if an anglophone is speaking to another anglophone, much of what is being said is understood from a combination of sources (as Bill mentioned) including body language, subtle intonations, choices of wording, etc, and we usually just know what the other person means. However, when not fully understood, English can be taken the wrong way quite easily, and the point is completely misunderstood. We have seen this here many times.

 

This is why French is the language of diplomacy, not English.

 

Phil

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I have been reading this thread with great interest. These are very dangerous grounds on this forum, very few forums have much success with this topic unless there are very liberal moderators and the participants have very thick skin. People have a tendency to read what they want into what is written, others jump in with he said-she said, egos get bruised and then it gets ugly.

 

Guidelines or current thinking are great ideals but only in a classroom...not in the real world. It seems I remember not to long ago where a critique was given and someone got insulted...others jumped in to offer interpretations and opinions and all reasonable thought went out the window. The end result was the loss of two members. I for one learned a great deal from that one about members, tolerance, the process when written and the "theory " of the critique process.

 

It would seem to me that a critique given to a carver by another carver is between the two only. The one being critiqued can respond how they see fit. When a third party steps in and begins to defend or deny the validity of that critique is where the trouble really starts. It is up to the one being critiqued to accept or discard what is given. Other people arguing over the worth of the critique is irrelevant and only serves to muddy the water, create tension and sidetrack the entire process.

 

My very first post on this forum was a critique...did not go over very well then (partially my acknowledged fault, while what I said may or may not have been true the critique was not asked for in the first place) and I for one will be very careful to couch my words with the next critique I give. I will also keep in mind that there are some who will ask for a critique but really do not want one...and will not accept it gracefully if given.

 

If I do venture to critique someone's work I will keep in mind first and foremost that all people are sensitive about their work either because of or due to something in between insecurity or arrogance. I will try to bear in mind their skill level and time spent at carving, both influence the depth and tone of the critique. I will also try to ask a few questions before I assume anything, intent has great influence. Sometimes questions asked create more of a critique than statements. Honest critique does not have to be brutal or insensitive, it can be measured and constructive.

 

Of course these are just my thoughts based on my observations...critique if you feel the need.

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Well, I'm not a proffessor of anything, but I do want constructive criticism. As far as how to take the criticism, I would take it in and mull it over. If it helps me be a better carver, I'll accept it at face value. If it is critical of my design, I may or may not try to make the suggested changes. Design is objective, we may or may not like the same type things.

I truly feel that any criticism offered in a helpful manner is good for us if we can get past our egos.

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