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The Useful Critique


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#21 Chris Campbell

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 08:19 AM

hey that could be a good thing! a forum section where you put your stuff in for comment...i think for the most part people would be nice, hopefully sincere.... and if they are not, a mod can spank 'em


See, there's the catch ... A built in desire for everyone to be nice ... So, what if you think the piece is clunky, badly designed or poorly glazed? Is there any nice way of saying this? Or do the negative opinions need to stay silent in order not to be "spanked". I truly wish there was a way of doing this ....
How about ... If you want to post an image you have to agree not to kill the messenger??

Chris Campbell
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#22 JBaymore

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 09:12 AM

See, there's the catch ... A built in desire for everyone to be nice ... So, what if you think the piece is clunky, badly designed or poorly glazed? Is there any nice way of saying this? Or do the negative opinions need to stay silent in order not to be "spanked". I truly wish there was a way of doing this ....
How about ... If you want to post an image you have to agree not to kill the messenger??


Go Chris!

If everyone reads back through the whole thread you can see how this discussion has developed and reached this point. Chris is again making the most salient point about the whole problem with this concept.

Sometimes "being nice" MEANS saying that the particular piece is very unsuccessful. Doing it in a way that is as tactful as possible, but saying it nonetheless. To NOT say what should be said is doing them a disservice. It is not being nice to them. It is actually being deceptive.

In fact with some people (very infrequently) you have to say it in pretty darn blunt terms sometimes for them to "get it". Subtelty with that kind of person doesn't work well.

I (and all other faculty members I know) spend a lot of time building trust with students exactly SO that you can give them input (both reinforcing and more negative) and they will take it in, digest it, and act upon the feedback. How I handle the first critique of the year with a freshman class of intro students is VERY different from how I handle the last critique of the year with that same group. How I handle a critique with the senior ceramics majors whom I've known (and most importantly, who have known ME) for 4 years is VERY different for even that last critique with the intro freshman.

Trust and relationship matters.

So I am back to the "trust thing" I mentioned above in other posts. To do this in an online environment is very difficult because of the lack of trust building that must go on before a really meaningful critique dialog can exist. The same kinds of issues exist when you submit slides (what are they... I should say "images") for a juried exhibition and you sometimes get the (highly rare) feeback from the juror. It is a "critique" but it is not all that deeply effective.

("Who the hell is PotMan743 and what does he know about good claywork anyway.")

If you are in an isolated location and looking for good feedback on your work, at the least go take some extended workshops occasionally. Or if you are a Potters Council member (hint , hint), get involved in the mentoring program available to members...... where you can get matched up with an experiened person and can build a long term trust building relationship. THAT would likely be far more useful to you.

best,

.........................john
John Baymore
Immediate Past President; Potters Council
Professor of Ceramics; New Hampshire Insitute of Art

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#23 Kohaku

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 09:27 AM

[quote name='JBaymore' date='23 October 2012 - 06:12 AM' timestamp='1351001577' post='24076']
[quote name='Chris Campbell' date='23 October 2012 - 09:19 AM' timestamp='1350998368' post='24071']If you are in an isolated location and looking for good feedback on your work, at the least go take some extended workshops occasionally. Or if you are a Potters Council member (hint , hint), get involved in the mentoring program available to members...... where you can get matched up with an experiened person and can build a long term trust building relationship. THAT would likely be far more useful to you.

best,

.........................john
[/quote]

Option #1 is something I'm looking into.

As for the mentoring option... I did sign up... but no match.

I do understand your point about trust, though. Personally, I think that online critique could be useful, even if levels of candor and balance were inconsistent... but I've got a pretty thick skin...
Not all who wander are lost

#24 Edith Marie

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 11:28 AM

[quote name='Kohaku' date='23 October 2012 - 07:27 AM' timestamp='1351002431' post='24077']
[quote name='JBaymore' date='23 October 2012 - 06:12 AM' timestamp='1351001577' post='24076']
[quote name='Chris Campbell' date='23 October 2012 - 09:19 AM' timestamp='1350998368' post='24071']If you are in an isolated location and looking for good feedback on your work, at the least go take some extended workshops occasionally. Or if you are a Potters Council member (hint , hint), get involved in the mentoring program available to members...... where you can get matched up with an experiened person and can build a long term trust building relationship. THAT would likely be far more useful to you.

best,

.........................john
[/quote]

Option #1 is something I'm looking into.

As for the mentoring option... I did sign up... but no match.

I do understand your point about trust, though. Personally, I think that online critique could be useful, even if levels of candor and balance were inconsistent... but I've got a pretty thick skin...
[/quote]


Hello everyone,
My head hurts from reading everyone’s opinion and rebuttals. First I would like to add, the Mentor/Mentee program is an excellent idea, there are Mentees waiting for Mentors, where are all the Mentors? Second, who on this forum is a Mentor, if you aren’t a Mentor, why not? Being a Mentor is a place to critique, encourage, enjoy, and share some of your knowledge with a Mentee. Think about this, once a Mentee now a Mentor, is an excellent outlet for new Mentors, but first advance members should step up to the plate and be a Mentor…..I am also waiting for a Mentor, let’s see it has been six months now…..still waiting…..and lastly, something my mom would say to us girls growing up….”It is not what you say, it is how you say it”.

By the way, "Duckie" is my nickname not a "handle"......just saying.....

Edie.



#25 Idaho Potter

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 07:32 PM

I have signed on as a mentor, but haven't been partnered with a mentee, as yet. You mentees--have you been offered a partnership and turned it down for some reason? If you are an advanced member sign on as a mentor so you can share your expertise. If you have an MFA or if your diploma is from the school of Hard Knocks and Many years, you are needed. Share what you know.

Most of the time, people want the TRUTH, not a sugar-coated opinion. One of my summer high school mentee produces beautiful looking vessels, but are not suitable for knowledgeable buyers because they are lethal weapons with a rough foot. He doesn't like turning/trimming--considers it a waste of time. His regular school-year teacher and I have both told him that the only way to move forward is to learn all aspects of pottery. His knowledge of glazes is superior to mine (I buy commercial glazes) and his work looks fantastic in photos, but that's not enough to get him to the next level.

This is where I think a critique breaks down. Unless work can be handled, no critique can be complete. Enough! I have stated all this before.

Suffice it to say that most critiques on these forums are casual and limited. Most are given with a good heart and a willingness to see others succeed. As John says, the basis of critique has to be TRUST. If images are submitted, we all (including Newbies) can respond to shape, glaze finish, perhaps photographic skill (which I sadly lack), and anecdotal incidents from our own history. Beyond that, you need someone on a more personal basis.

Shirley

#26 yedrow

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 11:17 PM

I would love to have my work critiqued, I've never had that done beyond people choosing to or to not buy a piece. That being said, I'm kind of dubious as to how this would actually happen in a forum setting, based on past experience in forums.

A real critique would mean real work, at least some real work. Most forum activity is leisurely in my experience. It is also easy to poison the well. Some people have observations, and some have opinions, they aren't the same thing. And, there are different focuses like pottery or sculpture and different aesthetics/styles that don't necessarily cross over or interpret into another style well. Compound that with the fact that art is emergent and may not be scrutable in one instant as the thing it will become in a few years. What if you, the mentor, tell someone to not do a thing that will "make" their work years later? How invested are people in online forums in the success of people they will never meet?

There are points to be made about any given person's work. To be of any value they would have to be specific. For instance, a simple jar can have nice lines, or a good ratio of height to width, or appropriate surface, and such. But you can't really get far off the trail without getting stuck in quicksand. For instance, a great bit of advice for people wanting to sell pots is to make them bigger, brighter, and wider (can't make it right make it big, can't make it big make it red/blue). But artistically that is a dead end and I suspect commercially it is ultimately a dead end too. So, do you tell someone to starve for ten to twenty years and then make good stuff? Or, do you tell them to fast-track themselves into a dead end set of difficult to break habits? Maybe the person really only wants to know how to make a mug that sells. How then can you tell if a critique has value from person to person?

There is certainly value in a good critique. But it isn't like a good weld. One person may make a good critique and then make a bad critique using the same standards. Multiple critiques would probably be helpful since they could be averaged out. I think a 'practice' jury or something to that effect with volunteer judges that convien when there are at least a dozen or so might work. Perhaps any given forum member might submit one piece of work a month and other forum members could critique it. I was once a member of a writing group where you earned the privilege of viewing your reviews by reviewing other people's work. Perhaps something like that could be instituted. If I had thirty reviews I could take the top five and the bottom five, discard them, and get some meaningful input from the middle.

Joel Fink, senior craftsman, Silver Dollar City.

#27 OffCenter

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 09:59 AM

I would love to have my work critiqued, I've never had that done beyond people choosing to or to not buy a piece. That being said, I'm kind of dubious as to how this would actually happen in a forum setting, based on past experience in forums.

A real critique would mean real work, at least some real work. Most forum activity is leisurely in my experience. It is also easy to poison the well. Some people have observations, and some have opinions, they aren't the same thing. And, there are different focuses like pottery or sculpture and different aesthetics/styles that don't necessarily cross over or interpret into another style well. Compound that with the fact that art is emergent and may not be scrutable in one instant as the thing it will become in a few years. What if you, the mentor, tell someone to not do a thing that will "make" their work years later? How invested are people in online forums in the success of people they will never meet?

There are points to be made about any given person's work. To be of any value they would have to be specific. For instance, a simple jar can have nice lines, or a good ratio of height to width, or appropriate surface, and such. But you can't really get far off the trail without getting stuck in quicksand. For instance, a great bit of advice for people wanting to sell pots is to make them bigger, brighter, and wider (can't make it right make it big, can't make it big make it red/blue). But artistically that is a dead end and I suspect commercially it is ultimately a dead end too. So, do you tell someone to starve for ten to twenty years and then make good stuff? Or, do you tell them to fast-track themselves into a dead end set of difficult to break habits? Maybe the person really only wants to know how to make a mug that sells. How then can you tell if a critique has value from person to person?

There is certainly value in a good critique. But it isn't like a good weld. One person may make a good critique and then make a bad critique using the same standards. Multiple critiques would probably be helpful since they could be averaged out. I think a 'practice' jury or something to that effect with volunteer judges that convien when there are at least a dozen or so might work. Perhaps any given forum member might submit one piece of work a month and other forum members could critique it. I was once a member of a writing group where you earned the privilege of viewing your reviews by reviewing other people's work. Perhaps something like that could be instituted. If I had thirty reviews I could take the top five and the bottom five, discard them, and get some meaningful input from the middle.

Joel Fink, senior craftsman, Silver Dollar City.


I don't think this is a good place for in-depth critiques like the back in forth that takes place at a university. Instead, if people posted pics of their pots on their profile page and people interested in critiques took the time to check out those pics and offered comments (light critiques), that would probably work. Also, this way you know how much weight to put on a comment. For example, if someone makes critical comments then you check out their profile gallery and they don't have anything there or it is god-awful crap, then you know to ignore their comments or maybe even be relieved that they don't like your stuff. On the other hand if you're impressed, you should pay attention to what they say and tell them what you think of their pots. And, if you don't like the idea of criticizing someone's work, you could just not comment on work that you don't like but let someone who's work you do like know it.

Jim
E pur si muove.

"But it does move," said Galileo under his breath.

#28 Chris Campbell

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 10:37 AM

Well, here's an idea ... we could open a topic titled "Critiques offered". Anyone who was willing to critique someone else's work would post an image of their own work so the person who wanted a critique could choose the person whose work resembled the goal they are aiming for. They could send them a personal message via the forum with the image they wanted judged. This way there would be some element of willingness to judge and willingness to hear. Granted we could not hold the piece or try to use it or worry about judging something from a bad photo ... but the two way willingness might lead to success.

Chris Campbell
Contemporary Fine Colored Porcelain
www.ccpottery.com

TRY ...   FAIL ...  LEARN ...  REPEAT


#29 yedrow

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 11:09 AM

I like Chris' idea (and work). I think it might also be a good idea to separate art from production. I think the idea should be as it was in the writer's group; to improve the chances of success of the artist. We have several experienced artists and academics as well as several successful on-the-ground production people. Critiques geared to getting the ceramicist gainfully employed are likely the only ones that will matter in the long run. How can we improve the success of our members? What common tricks-of-the-trade can be provided in a critique format to help new ceramicists (and old ones) to understand what is expected of them by their viewing audience.

Joel.

#30 Kohaku

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 11:48 AM

^^ I agree. I'm too much of a newb to want to launch a topic like this... but I will actively participate if it gets activated.
Not all who wander are lost

#31 JBaymore

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 01:57 PM

To throw a critiquing thought out.......

In my class critique sessions (the goal is to get STUDENTS talking in a productive manner) the phrase "I like" (or the usual variations like ... I love), is banished from being said.

Effective critiquing is not supposed to be about what personally one likes or dislikes.

best,

..............john
John Baymore
Immediate Past President; Potters Council
Professor of Ceramics; New Hampshire Insitute of Art

http://www.JohnBaymore.com

#32 Cass

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 04:28 PM

...and by the same token, comments can't be taken too personally...this is a stumbling block for many.

your work is not you...interestingly, people sometimes get the most upset when told something they had already thought themselves, but were hoping no one would notice

#33 Pres

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 10:47 PM

...and by the same token, comments can't be taken too personally...this is a stumbling block for many.

your work is not you...interestingly, people sometimes get the most upset when told something they had already thought themselves, but were hoping no one would notice


All too often a good critique is not something that just happens. People learn to give and accept. When I first started taking classes in college, I had never had anyone else comment on any of my work other than isn't that pretty or nice etc. My first critiques of drawings and painting were needless to say-devastating. However, it was in an environment where everyone but the prof was getting hit. At the end of the first semester not such a big deal. When I started critiquing student work, I remembered how I felt that first year. Tough, and yet I realized that I had had lots of critique training by being involved in the college critiques, so doing it for the high school kids went the same way. In the end they too came to understand the importance and yet the impersonal piece of work vs person. When dealing with online posts I believe that the same atmosphere does not exist, and that when pertaining to honest opinion what should be cream is only water.

Simply retired teacher, not dead, living the dream. on and on and. . . . on. . . .                                                                                 http://picworkspottery.blogspot.com/


#34 Chantay

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 04:35 AM

I am excited to see this topic discussed. I have been an artist for over 20 years. But my previous experience is all in 2d format, new to pottery. I have participated in other online art forums where critiques where offered. It was a waste of time, post after post of useless dribble. With the talented and highly educated (years!) persons on this forum I look forward to posting some pics of my work. I know there are a lot of people on this forum that are adament about higher education. Well, I am taking a college ceramics class and it was a huge waste of money. I have learned so much more simply from reading this blog.

-chantay
- chantay

#35 Frederik-W

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 09:03 AM

To Wahine/Chantay:

I sympathise with you if you received "dribble" instead of critique.

However I disagree with you if you think that "talented and highly educated persons" are more entitled to provide critique, and are above "dribble".
It smacks of snobbery.
I have read plenty of art reviews where higly educated "critics" provide nothing more than dribble, only difference is that they dress it up in academic pretense.
The fact that someone produces beautiful pieces of art, does not necessarily make him an art critic.
The fact that someone with experience and technique can give you good practical advice does not make him any better in terms of providing an opinion on aesthetics. You can make a very good pot and it might have little aesthetic appeal.

Art history is full of examples of talented artists who were not appreciated at the time by the critics and the people who were supposed to know.


#36 Chris Campbell

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 09:45 AM

Sorry, but the two posts above prove why it doesn't work online ... Someone posts an honest take on what happened on another forum and someone else takes offense at a small part of it. It is impossible to post an honest but maybe not "NICE" opinion.

Chris Campbell
Contemporary Fine Colored Porcelain
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#37 yedrow

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 09:51 AM

Hmm, "In The Gallery," by Dire Straits pretty much sums up my trust in relying on narrow sources for artistic opinion.

Harry made a bareback rider proud and free upon a horse

And a fine coal miner for the NCB that was
A fallen Angel, Jesus on the cross
A skating ballerina, you should have seen her do the skater's waltz


Some people have got to paint and draw
Harry had to work in clay and stone
Like the waves coming to the shore it was in his blood and in his bones
He was ignored by all the trendy boys in London yes and in Leeds
He might as well have been making toys or strings of beads
He couldn't be, no he couldn't be In the gallery, no no, in the gallery


And then you get an artist says he doesn't want to paint at all
He takes an empty canvas and sticks it on the wall
The birds of a feather all the phonies and all of the fakes
While the dealers they get together
And they decide who gets the breaks
And who's going to be, who's going to be In the gallery, in the gallery


No lies he wouldn't compromise, no junk, no string
And all the lies we subsidize that just don't mean a thing, thing
I've got to say he passed away in obscurity
And now all the vultures, they're coming down from the tree
He's going to be, yea he's going to beIn the ga-gal-galleryGal, in the gallery


Harry made a bareback rider
And a fine coal miner

#38 Chris Campbell

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 10:02 AM

Great song but what "narrow sources" are you referring to? Can you define what makes a resource narrow?

Chris Campbell
Contemporary Fine Colored Porcelain
www.ccpottery.com

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#39 Kohaku

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 11:34 AM

So- I certainly recognize the reservations... but I'm still intrigued by the possibility of an online critique group- especially in light of my comparative isolation in the Idaho gulag.

Here's what I'd like to try...

I'm interested in pulling together a group of people who are interested in one fairly specific sub-set of ceramic endeavor- 'functional raku'. (The creation of raku objects that fulfill a targeted purpose- and manage to transcend the limitations of raku, such as porosity, leaching of oxides, comparative fragility, etc.). Objects that can fall into this category (with careful design) include (but are not limited to) drums, lanterns, urns, planters, fountains (note- the last two probably require some integration of raku and hi-fire components).

Here's how I'd propose this would work...

1) One member of the critique group serves as an informal moderator, and keeps a list of participating members
2) Objects for critique submitted to the gallery, with notification of the moderator
3) When an object is posted, the critique group is notified via PM
4) Critiques shared via PM
5) additional images shared via PM as needed for clarification
6) No more than one object submitted per month per group member
7) People who participate agree (obviously) not to be antagonistic or vicious... but participants also agree to retain a thick skin and not argue about critique (requests for clarification are OK). Non-compliant participants are removed from the group.

Can I get some feedback from the senior members as to whether it would be OK to try this (or suggestions for improving the system)? If people are on board with me trying this, I'll post a separate thread in this forum...
Not all who wander are lost

#40 Chantay

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 12:37 PM

Frederik-W, and all,

However I disagree with you if you think that "talented and highly educated persons" are more entitled to provide critique, and are above "dribble".


There are many ways I could have stated my feelings on this topic, obviously I need to elucidate. When I stated that I felt that the persons attending to this forum were, 'talented and highly educated,' I was attempting to express my deep sense of respect for the many people here. I find the persons here exceedinly well versed on the subject of ceramics/pottery. I believe that knowledge extends to all areas of the art and buisness. I believe, 'highly educated,' persons includes both academia education along with the self educated. The persons on this site have a great apitude for the making of ceramics along with a wealth of knowledge on all aspects of the subject that is astounding. Because I know the aforementioned information, I feel that when asking for input on my work I would receive useful and valuable responses.


Chris, You can't mother the world. If your old enough to post on this forum, your old enough to sort through the information and deal with it approprietly, IMHO.
The generosity of the persons here with their time is astonishing.


-chantay
- chantay




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