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The best critique I had was an individual critique from a painting
professor while in undergraduate school. He met with each of his painting
students weekly. The student began the critique with an explanation of
what we were attempting to communicate (mine was usually some form of social
criticism), why what we were attempting to communicate was worth
communicating, and how we were attempting to communicate it vis-a-vis
formalist principles and art history. (Note: Prior to this class, I had
already completed technique classes, two courses in art history, and an
aesthetics course.) The professor actually took notes to be used in
subsequent individual critiques throughout the quarter, and then provided
information like: "Have you looked at so and so's paintings?" Or asked
questions like: "Why is this issue (content) important to you? Is it
important enough to sustain your interest throughout the quarter? Why this
color, pattern, etc. instead of another?" And he even gave technical advice, as
well. For example, "try pushing the brush loaded with paint instead of
pulling it across an area." We were required to keep a written journal of
our critiques and responses to his queries.
This was the mid to late 1960s when Pop and Post Painterly Abstraction were
in ascendency. The professor, by the way, was an abstract expressionist.
He met with each student once per week. The entire class met for open
critiques at mid-quarter and at the end of the quarter.
My worst experience was in graduate school, a drawing course. Again,
weekly individual critiques, but unless he truly liked your drawings,
he would throw them on the floor of your studio with the simple
admonition: "Start over." I never understood why, fully, or what he was
I usually worked large for drawing at the time (36" X "48") and the professor's
drawings were postage stamp size (no exaggeration) abstractions. They
exquisite. But they reflected his anal retentiveness. To this day, I
never draw before I begin a painting.
Good luck with your research.
Professor, Art Education
Ohio State University
Columbus, OH 43210