Maryland Pastel Society newsletter


Summer, 2010

Summer 2010

Green Umbrella by Michael McGurk

I hope you've all been able to make the most of these long summer days… there's so much out there in summer to inspire: family trips to the beach or maybe the mountains, meadows with flowering trees and grasses, color-soaked fruit and veggie stands, people taking lunchtime walks through the Inner Harbor, and much, much more. Whether painting outdoors (in the shade!) or in a nice air-conditioned studio, I know you've all been busy, and I have to admit the annual July critique meeting is my favorite! I always look forward to seeing the new work people bring in, the new directions they're moving in, and the new techniques or materials they've been trying out.

The 19th century French painter Ernest Meissonier said "I have a critic who is more exacting than you: it is my other self." The ability to assess one's own and others' work critically, dispassionately, and with kindness is an essential skill for any artist. When applied to our own work, it helps us become fundamentally better artists. When applied to the work of master painters, it helps us begin to understand how they achieved such wonderful results. And when applied to the work of our colleagues and friends, it helps us strengthen those bonds by creating a mutual support and learning system based on shared knowledge and trust. At the very least, this skill helps us answer that most crucial question you have to ask of every new painting: "Am I done yet?"

So this year we're going to take a slightly different approach to this annual event, in order to engage each of you more fully in the critique process and help strengthen those important critiquing skills. We'll begin with a short introduction covering critiquing goals and "etiquette" and explaining the hand-outs. But instead of signing up on one or more lists to passively have your work critiqued, you will be assigned to one of four critique groups where two facilitators will lead the assembled artists in a group critique. The first artist up will place his or her paintings (no more than 3, please) before the group, and the group will offer their insights and reactions, using the handouts provided. Once everyone's had a turn, the facilitators will ask each artist to choose one of his or her paintings to be included in a group "show" and then will lead a group discussion of the collected work. In this way we hope not only to help you hone your critiquing skills, but we're also hoping to reduce the amount of confusion, noise, and random milling around these meetings always seem to entail and to ensure that everyone who wants a critique gets one (which has not always been the case in the past).

So bring 1, 2, or 3 paintings for your colleagues to critique, bring your empathy and creativity, and definitely bring a tasty snack to share! As always, we'll be drawing names for the "food prizes" right after the business meeting. That's Saturday, July 24, noon to 4pm, at the Glenwood Community Center in western Howard Co. See you there!

Deborah Maklowski
MPS President