Amy on writing

What It Isn’t

Lets talk about constructive criticism.

Constructive criticism is a respectful, actionable suggestion for improvement. Its purpose is to draw attention to something that could be done better, or to draw attention to a solvable problem. It is best to give constructive criticism when it is asked for. And possibly if it is offered, and only given when the offer is accepted.

Constructive criticism isn’t criticising for the sake of your own vanity or to be deliberately unhelpful. That is destructive criticism. The main difference is how the “crit” is delivered. Although both ways are meant to oppose or challenge you, being destructive is hurtful, unnecessary and makes you look like a petty asshole.

Coming from an art background, constructive critiques are the most valuable resource you can have. Your peers can guide you, shape you, help you rise or hold you back. In an industry that is subjective, it’s helpful to learn how to offer criticism in the right way.

Sometimes critique is easy, you have a definite thought and passion to help the recipient improve, that’s awesome. But it doesn’t always work that way. So how do you remain tactful and helpful when the work is horrible, or helpless? Is it best to pass and shut up? That depends. If you are tasked with critique that someone has asked for, I feel it’s the responsible thing to respond honestly. If you are appalled by the work, focus on what would make it better, not why you hate it.  All of this seems very obvious doesn’t it? Like common sense? I wish it were, I’ve been on the receiving end of some pretty harsh criticism, and I felt horrible about it, not only about my work, but about the person who gave it to me. I lost respect for them. They didn’t leave their baggage at the door and lost all credibility with me and some of the group.

So, constructive criticism, what it isn’t is your opportunity to make someone look bad or to make yourself look better. If you are driven to do either, you may have some soul searching to do.

Never let anyone dull your shine.

Thoughts my WP’s? Been on the giving or receiving end of destructive crit? How did you cope?

Tell me all about it. I love it.

Cheers, Amy

image- Golden Gate Bridge at night

Oil on canvas by me.

16 thoughts on “What It Isn’t”

  1. Everyone doesn’t read the same prose, see the same picture or hear the same tune. Our vision or hearing is coloured by who we are. and what associations an art form has for us. Just because a majority of people seem to appreciate one example of art or craft (or not) doesn’t make it the only interpretation. Some things are harder to understand than others; that doesn’t mean they are less worthy.
    Some people are blind and deaf to the subtleties of art – that’s their loss.
    Some people are just trolls – that’s their problem, not yours.
    Love the pic.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hmm, I made a sandcastle once and was told by my father it would never survive the encroaching tide as I had not used bricks. Did this amount constructive criticism? I grudgingly had to admit that he was right as the Atlantic surf wiped away the granular battlements. I was about 10. I can’t remember if he offered me a ‘shit sandwich’ along the lines of “Gosh, that’s a great castle, Martin: Of course, being structurally transient it will be washed away by the first wave of oceanic attack, you numpt : never mind, it’s authentic portcullis and ramparts will stay in both of our memories forever.” Point is, 45 years on and I’ve not built a single sandcastle since…. No, it’s true. The point is that one must be aware of the capability of the criticizee to accept the critique, no matter how well intended or valid.

    Amy, I do not know enough to be critical of your fabulous picture of the Empire State Building. Like all the work you have shown us, it is striking, full of life and, somehow, movement.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Poor little Martin. You should go and make a sandcastle man. Seriously. It’s pretty fun, fleeting or not. Yes. It’s really not constructive criticism if it isn’t asked for or offered and not accepted. Most kids aren’t running around saying “tell me what you really think.” Although maybe they should. There would be less celebration of mediocrity maybe 🤔
      Cheers from the Pacific, not Atlantic. 😁

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Poor little Martin? At last I’m understood! On your advice I grabbed my bucket and spade, knotted a handkerchief for a hat and rolled my trouser legs up to expose my shins, socks and sandals to the sea in true ‘Brit on holiday’ mode. It was only when my plastic spade shattered on the tarmac that I remembered that my home county of Berkshire is land-locked in the mid-south of England. While my efforts to produce sandcastles were largely thwarted, my miserable efforts were at least wholly protected from even the most stroppy of seas. I fear that my crappy castles have left me open to criticism of all types. Do you know of any good builders yards who may supply sand of suitable quality? PS Pacific? Pah! You’ve not suffered the terror of a REAL ocean until you have had chill, flabby Atlantic seaweed unexpectedly caught between your chill, flabby toes in an ill-advised paddle in the shallows around the British coast.

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      2. Having a sandbox in your yard is all fun and games until… you have a sandbox in your yard. Worst idea. We have one at daycare and frankly we may just as well set it up in the living room. There is sand everywhere always. Sadly. The pacific is no picnic in Northern California either. Even the on the nicest beach day the water is borderline arctic. Hawaii tho. That was delightful.

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  3. I really think it depends on the relationship you have with the one offering it. I have seen way too many strangers on WP giving condescending “advice” to others that just makes them look foolish quite frankly. The few times I have done it, was to someone I had developed a little bit of a friendship with, and also in a private email. Plus, they had asked me for it as well.

    And I am truly gobsmacked by your art! I think it is stunningly beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

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