Panel Discussion: The Insightful Critique

How do you critique a painting? What can you do to get more from critiques? How can you critique your own work? On February 21, 2004 at the Los Altos Library, SCVWS sponsored a panel discussion featuring four local artists who are oftened called on for critiques and show juries. The discussion was moderated by SCVWS President Cindy Blain. Since SCVWS members have been showing increased interest in forming critique groups, the discussion is summarized below.

SCVWS would like to thank our distinguished panelists for their invaluable advice: Barbara Abbott, Mike Bailey, Millie Bishop and Charlotte Britton.

Ground rules and diplomacy: How do you approach a critique? What is the goal?

What attitude should the artist being critiqued bring to the critique?

How does one critique a painting when one is at a loss as to what to say or the painter is a very new beginner?

How can one critique friends' artwork (when they ask) and stay friends?

How do you work when judging for a show?

Critiquing emotional elements:
Should you critique emotional elements of a painting?
If so, how do you critique formal elements versus emotional elements?
"Authentic" is a word one hears with respect to critiquing: what do you think 'authentic' means and how do you gauge it?

If they ask for the truth, what do you do?

How do you critique yourself?

What about critique groups?

The Panelists

Barbara Abbott

Barbara was a Professor of Art at Louisiana State University & University of Pennsylvania at Edinboro and taught watercolor, 2D design, painting, color theory, sculpture and printmaking.

In Louisiana, she was a Juror for state art grants (individual artists and projects)
As the Gallery manager at LSU, she organized regional juried exhibits, managed selection of, and a national search for, artists to show in the gallery. She has exhibited watercolor paintings for over 30 years in many solo and group exhibitions, winning numerous awards. She's lived in Utah, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and now California.

Besides her painting, Barbara also creates large artwork for Public Art Commissions - her public art pieces have been commissioned by the city of San Jose, Santa Cruz and Shreveport, Louisiana -the latter funded through a National Endowment for the Arts Grant. She has her BFA and MFA…her MFA is in printmaking. Barbara's work is represented at the Winters Gallery in Carmel.

Mike Bailey

While long attracted to art, Mike did the sensible thing and got his BS in Engineering & Business. In 1988, Mike began to paint as a hobby, but then got serious about studying art and began reading a lot of books and taking a lot of workshops. For the past several years, Mike has taught "Watercolor Beyond the Obvious" for the University of California Santa Cruz Extension program and since last year, through the watercolor society. Mike shows his work at festivals, private showings, open studios and galleries occasionally.

Mike is an active and prolific painter, who is in his studio almost daily. As he says to his students, "Even if the muse doesn't show up, you're there". In Mike's words: "I live a life that most people dream of. I travel to Europe to paint, have wonderful artist friends, show and sell my work and have a fabulous home life."

Milly Bishop

Milly is a signature member of the Society of Western Artists. She is also a member of Allied Artists West, a group of professional artists who exhibit together here in the valley. Milly is a past leader of this watercolor society.

Besides teaching and giving critiques, Milly has been a juror for many Bay Area art exhibits by groups like the Los Altos Art Club, the San Carlos Art Group and Society of Western Artists. She has participated in over 50 group exhibits, receiving many awards and had several solo shows as well. Her BA is in Education with a minor in Art, while Milly has continued her art education via lots of workshops. Milly also offers critiques in a one-on-one situation.

Charlotte Britton

Charlotte is a signature member of the American Watercolor Society, the National Watercolor Society and the California Watercolor Society, and has received awards from all three groups.

Charlotte has taught watercolor since 1973, and will return to Italy in 2005 for her 10th session of teaching with LaRomita Workshops and is currently organizing a group painting trip to Holland and Bruges in Belgium this spring. Her painting trip to Spain with a group of fellow painters was featured in the Winter 2002 issue of Watercolor Magazine. Her work has also been featured in earlier issues of Watercolor, Watercolor Magic, and she is included in several books on watercolor. Her paintings are on display at The Painter's Place in Larkspur, the Main Street Gallery in Pleasanton, and Art & Soul in Alameda.