Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Art of Critiquing

This isn't going to be published so I thought I would pop it on here as you've already read the previous installment.

The Art of Critique

In the previous issue of the newsletter I sent in a list of criteria to think about as we look at rugs, draw and buy patterns. I also sent in a photo of a rug I designed, with a snowman, remember ?
I want to revisit that rug, go find your last issue.. I’ll wait. Ok...

Take a good look at the rug. Read over the list of design elements and principles. Fasten your seat belts. I’m going to do something very few people are willing to do, I’m going to remove my rose coloured glasses, get rid of the personal feelings I have about this rug and my part in it and I am going to take a hard look at it and critique it. Before I start this I want to assure you anything I say about this rug is not to be interpreted as me bashing me. It is me trying to become better at what I do. If I can’t separate my thoughts from my hooking I will continue to hook the same thing in the same way over and over. For me life is too short for that. I want to learn each time I make something, for this to happen I need to change the way I look at things. When I take that action the things I look at change too. Here we go .

I have horizontal lines repeated in hat and ground.
I have curved lines in snowman and in ground
I have a wide range of values, light to black.
I used interesting colour, even unexpected, to portray each thing, with repeats varying in value.
The shapes are repeated, off center and varied.
I used pattern with coal, and snow dappling.
There is a sense of calm through using no element of movement.
Almost everything was on the cool side of the colour wheel.
There is great size and colour contrast, as well as dominance with the big snowman, tiny bird.
There is gradation and repetition in the size of the snowballs.

How much thought did I put into making this happen ?
Barely any because like you I already intrinsically know when something looks good. This will vary from person to person. For instance I’m never as happy looking at angles as I am looking at curves. This is only about my personal taste. I can and will react favourably to a great design no matter the subject because my eye loves beauty ( it is a built in human talent ). I sharpened this inherent aesthetic skill by vigourously critiquing my design results with the ideas presented here.

Could my rug be better ?
Of course.... I could have implied depth of field by placing things in the background, like trees or other snowmen. I might have provided a light source and shaded the snowman, had shadows. More colour could have been used. I could have implied movement or action, more of a story with a fallen piece of coal,or the bird might be landing or flying or the hat crumpled with a snowball smudge on it or berries on the arm branches, foot prints in the snow... but I’m learning..... yes, I’m learning.
Often we rely on others to help hone our skills. We are frequently told how beautiful our creations are. People will often tell me that’s not what they are looking for, they want to hear what could be done for better results.
It is a difficult task to find someone who you trust enough to lay bare your creations. It is also difficult to speak up and be the messenger, who knows what damage could be done to friendships or psyches ? It is important to recognise there the world of difference between criticism and critiquing. Criticism is about the person delivering it, about control. Critiquing is for you, it is a gift from the other person, it can be a surprising one even slightly painful but it is never debilitating as criticism frequently is. One is for growth, the other holding back. You can feel the difference. It’s good to find someone who is equally vulnerable, who is exposing their work as you expose yours, in the same way, with the same objective. Until then try to be as impartial with yourself as possible about what you are creating. Once we can accomplish this everything in our creative mind is possible.
Please use these ideas in any way you wish to further your rug hooking.

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