Val posted an entry on "Feedback vs Criticism" (Sat. Dec. 3) that interests me.
She says, "But we then got to thinking about asking for other people's opinions to firm up one's own thoughts about work in progress."
This kind of interplay of genuine support and ideas is quite important; however, Val also notes that sometimes what we get is false praise. Hmmmm.
Aren't most of us bothered by this? Not that I want anyone to tell me they don't like it, unless I specifically ask. Even then, I'd rather have suggestions (assuming it is still a work in progress and not a finished piece). What would you do? Do you think ___ should be ____?
The following bit was what I commented on Val's blog:
"I think everyone has these thoughts. Sometimes we want help; sometimes we don't. When I asked for help on "Asian Blues," I got what I was looking for. I did not want to know if people liked it or not (I didn't like it), but could it be saved, and if so, what might help...
Most of the comments affirmed my own thoughts, but some ideas offered me a fresh perspective. Both were useful because sometimes I'm uncertain and need a more experienced nudge and sometimes my thinking becomes circumscribed and refuses to admit new ways of looking at things."
The topic was so good, I had too much to say and wanted to think about it some more.
My personal feeling is that if you don't like it in general, and you haven't been asked for constructive criticism, do your best to avoid much comment. If you have to say something, there must be something you like and can point out. If you have been asked for suggestions, then the "what if..." or "have you thought about..." approach should put helpful options out there.
Sometimes I have opinions about a piece that I'm looking at (love the color combination, the way a design element makes sense to me, a technique that is effective) and sometimes, I just don't. Don't know why the piece doesn't appeal and may be just too lazy to try to reason it through if it doesn't jump out at me. Also, I'm extremely inexperienced in both art and quilting so if the impact isn't positive, I may not know why.
When I reached the point of total frustration with "Asian Blues" (I wanted to use those fabrics) and asked for suggestions, the responses motivated me to keep working, completely change the design but keep some of the elements, and eventually complete a piece that is special to me because of what I learned. One thing learned was not to let myself get locked in to a concept.
Val says, " Yet as a teacher I have to give feedback on students work and it has to be painfully honest. I always try to make it constructive criticism and not just a bald statement of fact. Good critiques can be instant learning curves and provide the impetus for a big step forward. Sugary or no comment at all just keeps one in the cosy warmth of the place you are at. "
Teachers have an obligation to challenge and guide through constructive criticism. Val's statement about "Sugary or no comment" is not an acceptable option for a teacher whose job it is to help students improve and does so by applying her knowledge and experience. A sugary comment/no comment response is a cheat to the student.
What if, however, the relationship is not student/teacher? How far do you think people should go in commenting on the work of another? And should you refrain from giving even constructive criticism unless asked?
If you decide to discuss this on your own blog, and I hope you will, please leave a comment so we can visit.