As you may have seen a few weeks ago on my Instagram feed, my husband spotted an error in one of my pieces. Thankfully he caught it in time and I was able to fix it before it became a more difficult problem. This is one of the reasons that I LOVE frequent peer reviews and critiques. It is always helpful to have a second set of eyes to look at a piece and tell you what is off. Usually I find that I’ve been looking at something for too long and can feel that something isn’t right but can’t really place a finger on what it is. This is where critiques come into play.
For critiques I’ve found a few helpful sources.
- One is my grandma. Back in the day she worked as nurse in a hospital. She has always loved all things medical so while she hasn’t worked as a nurse for a long time it is still at the forefront of her mind. I know that if something isn’t right proportionally or anatomically she will spot it pretty quickly. She is who I turn to with most of my character studies or complex illustrations where the person doesn’t feel quite right. Since my grandma is not practical to be used as a resource I’d recommend finding and befriending someone who is trained and familiar with the human anatomy. This can really be a HUGE asset to both beginners and experienced artists when working with the figure.
- Another resource that I’ve found helpful is local art groups. I’m terrible at keeping up with them and getting out of my house but when I do it has always been a fantastic experience. To find your own group check out Facebook art groups or even your local galleries to see what events are going on around you. Most cities are teaming with groups of artists who are in your area who like to meet up, discuss art, and hang out. By engaging with local artists you will make connections, learn new skills, as well as be able to get necessary feedback on your work when the time comes. These groups are especially helpful when it comes to critiques on composition, lighting, and color use.
- Ask a friend. If you can’t meet up with an artist friend/group and can’t seem to figure out what is wrong with your piece, ask a friend. Even someone who isn’t trained in art can usually point out pretty big errors in your work. My husband has notoriously shocked me with what he has pointed out in my pieces (like the time I drew the wrong food on a leg. That was an embarrassing day) when I get too caught up in my work.
- When all else fails, ask an online community. I personally feel it is best to get critiques in person since communication is a lot more clear and direct and the artwork is always slightly different when scanned in vs seen in person. However, when all else fails or when you have a SUPER short deadline this is a surefire way to find help. I’ve used the forums on DeviantArt, Facebook illustration groups, and the Forums at SVS Learn to get feedback on my work. Depending on the level of the group you may get some really in depth feedback on your piece and how to improve it.
Where do you go for critiques? Were any of these ideas useful to you? Let me know on my Facebook page!