Recently I wrote about the process of critiquing our own art, and I used a painting I’d recently finished as an example. As I went through the critique process, I quickly realized that — in my opinion — the painting wasn’t finished at all.
Some of you agreed with me; others liked the painting just the way it was. Since I write and schedule blog posts well in advance, I had already made changes to the painting when that first post appeared last week.
I do hope no one is too disappointed with the final results. I was pleased with the painting, and people who have seen it have liked it. I was recently asked to display several paintings at our local community center, and this may be one I choose.
Here’s how the painting looked before:
The problem was that everything I wanted to convey through this painting rested in the little farm scene I had wanted to include. At first, though, I couldn’t get the farm painted right, kept wiping it away, and finally called it done.
After doing the critique, though, I felt the painting definitely needed something more. I still wasn’t able to paint a farm, but I did get at least one farm building painted in, as well as a few trees. If you look closely, you’ll even see a fence. Yeah, I’m getting better at painting fine lines.
To me, it’s a definite improvement, so it goes to show how important it is for us to look at our work with a critical eye. I did change it a bit from my original plan. Instead of having the farm scene near the center, I moved it to the left and also added a wider road than I’d originally planned. It seemed to work.
Yet did my improvements satisfy all I was trying to do with this? In some respects, I think the painting still falls a little short of my lofty visions of communicating feelings of isolation, the smallness of mankind, the power of nature, and above all, the idea that we can find hope even in dark moments.
Or maybe I haven’t improved it at all. Maybe I’ve taken away from the beauty of the storm clouds. I’m not going to spend a lot of time, though, wondering if I did the right thing or not. To me, it felt right, and what I added to the painting gave me more of a sense of completeness. I’m ready to now to call this finished.
Through this process, I have learned how valuable a few moments of thoughtful analysis can be, and critiquing my work will be a definite part of my artistic process from this point on. I’ve learned too, that others will sometimes see our work in different ways. That’s part of what art is all about.