Critique

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Second to the lived experience of the student, critique is the most important aspect of teaching art. Like drawing, critique is a craft that is subject to different schools of thought and can be addressed in terms of technique.

When doing a long drawing, the students should be encouraged to take a break and review their work. They should stand as far back from their drawings as the room will allow. It is also advised that they turn their drawing upsidedown. Artists have been doing this for hundreds of years: it helps reveal any inconsistencies in the structure of the drawing.

At the end of the exercise, the work should be displayed. If it is pinned to a wall, then all work is to be placed at the same height (which should be just above average eye level). Alternately, if easels have been employed, then they may be positioned so that all may see what is upon them. In a drawing circle, this will simply require that the easels are turned to face inwards. If nothing else, this gives the students a chance to enjoy each other’s work.

Critique comes in two parts. First there is diagnosis, which addresses any shortcoming of the work. This is followed by prescription, which addresses what needs to be done to address the shortcoming. Separate to this, the student is to be made aware of anything positive that they have achieved in their work.

In teaching, the summary is a life-saver for the easily confused student. Clear and concise summaries should follow any extended critique.

Some students become demoralised following critical feedback. The teacher is therefore to be mindful to temper critique with encouragement. That being said, they would not be doing the student any favours if they protect him/her from all criticism. Learning is necessarily a painful process and is a lifelong commitment to being humbled by a knowledge of one’s shortcomings.