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Thread: Overly positive feedback - an issue?

  1. #1

    Overly positive feedback - an issue?

    Am going to put this out here for public discussion. Thought of it a couple weeks ago, and at that time, I resisted posting anything about it, but it's come to mind again, so why not? See, when I browse the Gallery forum here on the Ambient Design forums for ArtRage and look at other folks' paintings, I also see that other people have left fawning and overly positive feedback or comments towards some of the paintings that (quite frankly) do not look as good (or expertly done) as indicated by said feedback. See what I'm getting at here? While I do recognize that some people do put forth their best effort with their paintings, sometimes the feedback provided exceeds the actual quality (both subjective and objective) of the paintings themselves. What's wrong with handing out feedback that reflects on the paintings as they're done and at the level which they were composed?

    In my view, it's fine if someone leaves a comment for a painting that isn't quite a true masterpiece as long as it's not negative or compliments the effort itself (i.e. "good job," "looks like a good effort," along with some constructive criticism), and NOT something like, "So beautiful! Wonderful painting! So skilled!" Not saying we should tell it like it is or anything like that, no, but I am saying that overly positive praise or feedback should be saved for paintings that truly would take anyone's breath away (art in the eye of the beholder be damned), or represent a concrete degree of artistic mastery over the subject at hand. And I am not going to cite specific examples of what I'm talking about here; I do not want to have anyone's feelings hurt. It's just a pattern that I've noticed in the several years I've perused these forums. How can anyone hope to improve without accurate feedback?

    And isn't that what these forums are also here for? To help each other? Help ourselves improve? Thoughts? Thanks.
    Last edited by Omnimaxus; 02-07-2013 at 02:15 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Huntsville, On., Canada
    Quote Originally Posted by Omnimaxus View Post
    In my view,
    We all see things different and in my view perhaps the painting is well worth saying it is beautiful, beauty also includes not only the finished project but the effort and feelings the painter puts into it

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    I see that the gallery board is divided further into sections - one for showing your work, and another for critique. I am new here. New to art and new to Artrage. Just a stumbling hobbyist! And though I knew that what I had made and posted in the gallery was simple and even poor, I enjoyed making it. The encouraging and positive comments kept me going when I might have been discouraged and packed it in.

    Maybe the "fawning" comments you saw were made out of kindness, recognising that the member whose work was being praised needed encouragement. Had the original poster put their work in the Critique section, then they would have expected and welcomed all helpful comments, including those which pointed out flaws in design or technique. Even so, a kind tone is preferable.

    I suppose, too, that until you know a person better by further interaction on the forum, it might be kinder to hold back on negative critique, especially when it is not asked for, because one would not know how the artrager might take it. Later, it may become more obvious what their personality is and how much they would welcome direction and critique.

    Personally, I am not qualified to comment on artistic merit. I can only say how a painting makes me feel, or what aspects I like about it. Generally there is usually something positive to say. If not, I say nothing.

    it is an interesting discussion you have started, Omnimaxus. I have opened up just one facet. But just to finish, I must say that what attracts me to this forum is the wide range of ability, skills and depth of understanding of art. It seems to me that whatever level one is at - beginner, improver or advanced, there is something for us all. And, as you suggest, we can all learn from each other. There are some "less advanced" members here whose spirited work and words uplift me. And many true artists who have brought beautiful things to my vision and inspired me to enjoy trying to be better.

    i look forward to hearing what others think!

    i see just jean has slipped in a comment while I was typing. "beauty also includes not only the finished project but the effort and feelings the painter puts into it". Yes, I agree.
    Last edited by grayflo; 02-07-2013 at 02:57 PM. Reason: Response to justjean's comment

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    I understand the question, but frankly don't you think that the comments are between the commenter and the artist?

    Forums operate on a lot of different levels for different people, and these have evolved into the style of comment that you see because that's what people want here. . . so far.

    There is a critique forum here precisely for the kind of thing you're talking about -- to learn and I suppose to teach.

    This isn't a school class. You're not paying anybody for people's expertise. There are plenty of places out there that can provide critiques as hard as you please.

    I would recommend that if YOU personally want criticism, and I mean real criticism, say so in your thread when you initiate it.

    This is about using the program here and has turned into a place for people of all levels. One person's crit could be another person's feeling so bad about their work that they would be ashamed to post anything ever again. And again to be frank, that's bad for business, if that perspective makes more sense to you. This is a software site. Imagine posting a painting and having 12 or so people telling you all these conflicting things to change in the work. Why on earth would anyone want to ever run that gauntlet. Just because a person leaves criticism doesn't mean it's worth anything. They could be way off or be trying to pull the artist in their own personal direction which may or may not be worth anything.

    Maybe at some point (or maybe not) you may see that people operate on many levels, and what is more, Art is totally subjective. And there are too many kinds of Art and definitions to list. By which standard do you feel you have the authority to comment? -- I say that with respect. It's a fair question that gets to the heart of the matter.

    If somebody is tapping into something inside them and is learning to voice that part of them, and if their technique doesn't measure up to whatever (Andrew Loomis or Bougerreau or Morris Louis or Jackson Pollock etc), then there will be a mismatch. It's not always about mechanical technique.

    And as to criticism, if you kind of gauge the level these people are at based on their paintings they produce, and come in within reason, it's probably fine. I criticize all the time along with supporting their energy being put into their personal expression. And if they're happy, believe me, I'm happy. (Just an FYI, I'm not working for ArtRage.)

    I hope this makes sense. I look forward to seeing you in the forums more.

    Edit: I see two people posted while I was responding. hahah Lots of redundancies here. But that's a good sign.
    Last edited by D Akey; 02-07-2013 at 03:22 PM.
    "Not a bit is wasted and the best is yet to come. . ." -- remembered from a dream

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    New Zealand
    Like the others I take your point, but I don't feel qualified to teach and not really to criticise in the sense of an "art critic" or an "art historian." There are other forums where mostly professional artists hang out and the criticism is more vigorous there. But again it's really helping each other out. "This is the technique I would have used and that gives better results" etc etc.

    Largely these forms here revolve around friendship and support and I like it that way. Showing your art to others is very exposing and we all need confidence to do that. I find I get that here and at other forums too.

    Last edited by hypotaxis; 02-07-2013 at 04:01 PM.
    Visit my gallery here.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    I remember from years ago, a documentary about a well known and much loved Australian artist Lloyd Rees. He did give lessons at some stage in his life and when he died, someone reflected how he always found something kind to say about each of his student's work ..... even it was to say, 'That's lovely paper!'.

    Social media is so full of criticism, where no-one is answerable. It makes for a world that can be very unkind.

    Critique? Yes, if it's asked for, but to be ignored when you work hard at producing your best work, and have the courage to post, and then get torn to pieces? Come on......

  7. #7
    Thanks to all those who have replied. Listen, I do get what you're all saying. I do. Trust me. And I do get what a few of you have said about encouragement and all. I totally support that. But my basic point is, excess feedback should be looked at sincerely, and reconsidered. I'm talking about this from my perspective. That's all. There have been paintings posted on the ArtRage forums that've made me go (on the inside), "umm, okay," which was almost always followed by "uh, what?" whenever I'd see excess fawning by others heaping praise on them (the paintings). Some of the excess feedback bordered on being ridiculous.

    Don't get me wrong.

    There have been some paintings that have been actually pretty decent, and obviously had some effort go into them (which in itself is always appreciable as a feature of the painting itself), yes. But yet at the same time, there also have been times when ... look, let me put it this way. What I'm getting at is no different from say, what a parent does when their kid shows them a drawing (like a stick figure) that anyone in their right mind would say wasn't spectacular, and the parent goes, "Johnny, that's good," or "Hey, not bad, sweetie!," and NOT "Oh, JOHNNY! SO WONDERFUL! WOW! Why don't we have the principal hang this at school?!"

    Now, that? That's just too much. Doesn't do anyone any good, lest little Johnny. I'm NOT saying that the parent should be rude. More appropriately toned feedback would do.

    Anyway - look at the graphic below. The boy was one of my first paintings in ArtRage. It was done in 2010. The dog was done in 2013 (just a couple weeks ago). Significant improvement. Why? Because while I appreciated the positive feedback I received from others on the forum, I just knew I could do better, and opened myself up to self-critique. I encouraged it in a few posts, actually, and a few ArtRage members gave it to me. I don't know. All I'm saying is that if praise or feedback of a higher value is to be given, it at least should be truly earned, and not given away like water.

    That's all. Thanks.
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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    I actually quite like the first one.... and decided not to comment on the second.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Okay. . . I personally find the second one is laughable. Makes me chuckle anyway.

    Laughter is good. And so is moderate criticism. But, lad, so is praise. . .
    Stick around and you may discover why and how. Hint: Look past the painting to see the improvements taking place.
    "Not a bit is wasted and the best is yet to come. . ." -- remembered from a dream

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    washington, usa
    I think the reason Johnny's parents would praise him is because he had made some art and he had made an effort to create beauty and they wanted to encourage him as an artist and as a person.
    The opposite would be to totally discourage him because it didn't yet meet all the criteria of composition, balance, harmony, color harmonies, unity, rhythm, values etc.
    The total extreme of criticism was shown when the Impressionists presented their work at salons. The critics of the time harshly denounced the works... which, as we know now, are permanently now fixed in our culture and worth millions upon millions because their beauty is now recognized. Perhaps we as critics need to change more than the painters? As D Akey mentioned, it's not a teacher/student classroom setting. I know that I am not a great artist, but I certainly have improved because of ArtRage and the folks on the forum that have kept me motivated and encouraged to do more... even though it may not be that great. It has been wonderful to be encouraged to do more. A lot of us are older folks giving it a whirl, late in life, while we have done other things than art for most of our lives. So in a way we are like little children just starting out and need that encouragement. While some of the artists here are professionals and it is obvious when you see the quality of the work, most of us are not, but what we are is enthusiastic about art and making it. That's a good thing and a good thing to encourage I think. In your own words,

    "while I appreciated the positive feedback I received from others on the forum, I just knew I could do better, and opened myself up to self-critique." That's kind of how it works around the forum. It is also how it works in a school setting these days. The student is pretty much responsible for self criticism, study and improvement. I will sometimes give ideas as to how a picture could be better if I see it would really make a huge difference with the suggestion. I would still probably make the suggestion in a private message and they can accept or reject the suggestion. It's a pretty sweet and encouraging forum and not like other''s I've seen where they pretty much try to discourage folks. It's also interesting that while I might not like something for my walls, it might sell like crazy on Etsy or one of the other places like that. You never know what people are going to like and buy, because there are so many different folks out there and so many different things folks like. Some folks probably told Andy Warhol his stuff was just junk. It's worth a heck of a lot of money now for silkscreens of soap boxes and movie stars. Or Wayne Thiebaud who paints cupcakes and deserts in acrylics. Worth a million bucks if you have one. Or how about the guy who paints circles. Actually, he hires others to paint the circles now. So to wrap it all up. Don't worry so much about comments on others' work and continue on with the self improvement and evaluation and look to find the greatness within that just needs to be encouraged, unburdened and unlocked.

    Last edited by screenpainter; 02-07-2013 at 07:13 PM.

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