Drawing and Critique

Darlene Duncan made a comment on my blog yesterday that I loved.

“A comment without explanation does not help towards understanding or improvement.”

The goal of a critique should be to move towards improvement through understanding, that is what makes it different from a criticism.

I tell people all the time that there is not a wrong way to create, you should just start and do it.  It occurred to me that this comment might seem in direct conflict with the idea of critique, and might be in need of further explanation.

Improvement is a subjective standard.  When critiquing your artwork, it is important to understand the goal or ideal that you have in mind.  Do you want to be the next Rembrandt or the next Picasso, or maybe the next Arina Tanemura.  How you would improve when working towards those goals is vastly different. When I say that there is not a wrong way to create, what I mean is that all styles are valid.

So if I want to improve my drawing, How do I go about doing that?

eyes2 eyes4

Both of these eyes were drawn from the same source.


Each of us translated the same image into what was important to us. Yet on each of them there is something that differs from the original.  I learned that Anime eyes are often open edged,  that the pupils are even larger than I thought and high lights do have a hard edge.

I have spent years working on making highlights without hard edges, so  I did not notice that it has one, and I can say that I would choose to put one.

So if what I mean by improving is to make the eye more in an anime style, the biggest changes I would make would be in the overall shape of the eye.


What I had sketched in as the whole eyeball is close to the size of the pupil, but taller and narrower, while the eyelid slants down more.  By taking the time to look at what I had drawn in comparison to what I was working from, I gained an understanding of  how and why mine differed from the original.  Once I have that understanding, I can choose to either make mine more like the original or just draw eyes in my own way.

None of this changes the fact that I was happy with my original eye, and the fact that my eye was different from the one I was working from does not mean my eye was wrong.

I still maintain that the best way to learn to draw is by picking up something that makes marks, and using it to make marks. and enjoy the process because it is not a matter or right and wrong, it is a matter of learning and understanding. The learning and understanding will lead to improvement.


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