Friday, June 29, 2007

C & C - Comments & Criticism (or Cackling and Cawing)

"The Novelist" - 11 x 14" colored pencil on board
Copyright 2007 Maggie Stiefvater.
Crummy after dark photograph - better one in the morning.

As I finished up this months-in-the-making still life tonight and got ready to shoot off a crummy photo of it on my desk to my support group Fine Line Artists, I started thinking about how lost I would be without their artistic input. Without their heckling and guidance, I would still be an artistic tadpole with both legs and tail. So I wanted to point any artists who were still looking for a support group to where I found mine:

This is a great but huge forum where every medium and subject matter is discussed in subforums. They number thousands of artistic members, all tightly moderated so there are no rabid foaming at the mouth discussions or commentary on people's private parts, etc. I really encourage any beginning or intermediate artists to head over there and do what I did: lurk and read the forums until you find one that interests you, then make some friends. I still post over there (my ID is piper2) but when I want the down-and-dirty commentary, the tell it as it is, I ask my Fine Line friends, because they'll give it to me like it is. I have someone similar for my writing.

This is really crucial for an artist, writer, or musician that are still finding their feet. Family are just too damn nice to tell you what you need to hear.

So find yourselves a buddy, folks, and watch yourself improve. And please, let me have C & C on my latest, "The Novelist." It's gotten wildly mixed reviews from the very beginning and I'd love to hear what you had to say.


Jo Castillo said...

OK, here it comes. First, I like the light, the colors, the shadows, the theme. Lovely painting. The tiniest nitpick I have is .. and it may be the photo, you said it isn't great .. is that I can't really tell there is liquid in the cup. I know because of the shadow on the paper, but I can't see it. Maybe a tiny bubble, a tiny elongated one like the liquid is pulled from the edge by tension, on the edge or a stronger line on the spoon. All in all it is so good and I didn't notice that until you asked for close inspection. :)


Lisa B. said...

I like it. It's quiet, thoughtful, and tells a story- ok, a short story. Early morning, a cup of tea, and a sleepy writer begins the day. Great sunlight!

A lot of people start their day with a hot drink and a journal entry. I find it appealing, but I'm not normal, either. ;)

Anonymous said...

Hi, Maggie, I very much like the over all piece. The colors are good. Two things bother me though: The spoon handle is slighty distracting. It confuses my eye because it doesn't read clearly that it is above the book. Perhaps a little more shading? Second, the pen - it leads my eye out of your image. I think it's a nice touch, but isolated down at the bottom by itself with no overlap, it seems like a late entry into the talent show. Perhaps if it were up on the notebook pointing toward the tea?

Just my two cents,

Stacy said...

Maggie, I really like this one. The bright light is fantastic as are the reflected colors on the page. My eyes are first drawn to the cup of tea and then travel to the pages of writing. Being nosey, I of course want to read what they say (and I would try if I was standing in front of the original). The only part I'm not sure of is the left side. I would be tempted to crop it in at the first light line. I don't really see the area to the left of that anyway and the crop would make those two corners more interesting.

-N- said...

So how did you actually form your support group via WetCanvas? I'm a WC-a-holic (username Polygon, and that's where I found a link to your blog) and would love to find a similar group. Did you approach folks who were at your level and sufficiently critical privately, or is there a secret forum for finding support groups that I haven't found yet? I love the encouragment at WC, but find it can be a little too positive at times. Although I haven't used the critique forums much yet (although I participate on them) because my work is still sufficiently flawed that I can usually figure out my own usually glaring mistakes! :-D

Anonymous said...

How thoughtful of you to share where you found a support group!!! Thanks!

Katherine said...

Heckle heckle!
C&C stands for Cyber Chums - you know that! ;)

The really great thing about having a buddy group is being able to say you don't like something - and why - and nobody takes offence. After all, it's quite often a question of perception and taste at the end of the day.

Having to deal with other people's honest and sometimes very direct comments on your work means that you have to develop your own skills in evaulation - to sift wheat from chaff (nobody ever said we always offer good comments!) and to work out for yourself which comments to take seriously - and work on - and which ones to be polite about - and ignore.

Maggie Stiefvater said...

Jo - DARNIT why didn't I ask you sooner? A bubble would be a great idea but I've got no layers left on the cup.

Lisa - thanks. I like the "story" element to still lifes.

Laure - I darkened and blued the journal page and added some color to the spoon to bring it forward after reading your crit.

Stacy - I actually agree with you on the crop. If this wasn't pastelbord, I'd probably chop an inch off the left.

N - I just posted as one of the regulars until I found some people whose comments "clicked" with my critiquing style. Then we started to send PMs back and forth to each other and it just seemed natural when we said "we should do this with e-mail." Gmail's threaded mail style makes the hundreds of emails we send every week easy to keep track of.

Angela - yep!!

Katherine - right-o. The beautiful thing about my cyber chums is that we can withstand an almost unlimited amount of ribbing and critiquing. :D

misti said...

At first I was going, what is wrong with this? It's beautiful, and then I started reading the other critiques and saw some of what they meant. I didn't understand how one person didn't see the liquid in the cup. To me it was clearly liquid. I do think it is a little eye crossing where the pen points to the cup, the cup handle points to the spine of the journal and the spoon points towards the journal as well. All thispointing makes me want to write in a journal and to find out what is written on that one! Overall I think technique is great!