Saturday, December 1, 2007

Combox Crit

Tim Jones of the blog Old World Swine has come up with a wonderful idea I am here imitating: a "combox crit," as he calls it, of his paintings.

A critique (or "crit"), for those unexperienced in art education, is the capstone of a studio course wherein the artist's work is openly analyzed by a group of his professors and fellow students. Both strengths and weaknesses are discussed, with a view toward improving the artist's ability to recognize these as he is working.

Mr. Jones has just conducted something very like this on his blog.

He writes:
I thought I would see what might happen if I invited readers to offer combox critiques of certain of my paintings. You don't have to be an artist or a collector or anything, just offer an honest critique. The usual rules of combox etiquette apply, of course. Brevity is the soul of wit. Be as specific as possible. Give reasons for your response... "I don't like it" doesn't really help. If you just don't happen to like the kind of work I do, save it. This is about the merits of the individual piece.

Also, if you just really like a certain piece, or want to compliment my work in general, save that, too. Comments like "Wow, I can't even draw a stick man..." are appreciated, and all... just not for combox crits.
So, please, fire away. I eagerly wish to hear your honest assessement of this painting. It is titled, "Forerunner," and depicts St. John the Baptist or St. Elias.

1 comment:

Dave said...

John the Baptist's iconography is probably my favorite of all the saints. I am most irritated by Christian art in which the edges are too smooth and the complexions and colors too glowing. The Baptist is the antithesis of all this: rough, dirty, and shaggy. I am especially enamored of the wall mosaic of him in Hagia Sophia, where he is at the left shoulder of Christ Pantokrator (Mary is to the right).

So I am inclined by temperament to admire your painting, and indeed I do. The rough, shaggy quality is everywhere apparent, and the scratches and thin streaking that characterize your work are here especially appropriate. But the roughness does not interfere with the saintliness, as the halo (left mostly undefined by the corners of the canvass--though with circularity hinted at by a vague line) makes clear.

The focal point of the painting for me is the eyes, and they are very expressive. The largeness communicates a kind of childish wonder or naivete, while their vague, shimmering quality makes them appear sad. The contrast of the sad childish eyes with the roughness elsewhere is a delight and makes me think of John in ways that I had not before. I have always thought of him as a man of violent temperament--but such men may hide inside them the fearfulness of a child.

If I were to offer a criticism, it would be that there is a kind of fatness in the face, which does not fit well with John the Baptist. But this is not necessarily a bad thing, since it caused me to throw off my assumptions about the subject when I first saw the painting. The fatness also works well with the childish quality of the face, and perhaps this is the intended effect.

I hope I have made it clear how much I like this painting--I have also also enjoyed thinking and writing about it.

I hope my thoughts are useful to you.

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