Tuesday, January 27, 2009


It's been a busy week - I'm halfway through an artist residency, having the usual mix of fantastic time and frustrating moments with the students and staff, and its just been zipping by. But amidst the lesson planning and commuting, I took time last night to attend a local artists' association critique evening.

I always enjoy critique sessions, even when it's my work under the eagle eye of a juror. It's a great opportunity to see what others are doing, to stretch your own ideas and to sometimes test your own opinions against those of an "expert". The juror last night was Delores Ribal, a very talented artist and a very gracious lady. I fared fairly well, enjoying her comments and taking a few suggestions to heart as well. I will confess, it was much more interesting to hear her comments on other artists' work and fortunately my "share" of the evening was very short.

This weekend, I flip hats again and will be at a writer's critique session which I am looking forward to because it is going to be a real switch from my normal group. Sometimes its just fun to get some fresh insights. I am regularly involved in several writing groups, both online and locally and appreciate each of them for the unique flavor they bring and for the generosity the other writers offer in sharing their time and expertise.

I highly recommend critique groups. They knock the corners off the rough spots and polish the unrecognized burrs out of your work until they shine with genuine skill and confidence. Of course, one of the things you learn is whose opinion you value and whose you will respectfully ignore. Mixed genre settings often make it clear pretty early which opinions you will value and incorporate into your own work. But even from the "out-genres", you can get some real insights.

Do you have a critique group? I recommend you find one - either on-line or in person. Sometimes, you may feel the need to thicken your skin a little but in the long run, the benefits will far outweigh the abrasions.

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