by Clara Lieu
There are many high school students who have strong drawing skills, but few know how to think critically and speak articulately about their artwork and the artwork of their peers within the context of a group critique. The vast majority of students who I have taught at RISD Pre-College have never experienced a group critique before, so I know it’s my job to introduce the students to the idea of a group critique. Group critiques are an exercise that takes a lot of getting used to, and even then, it’s still challenging for many students for several reasons. Critiquing artwork is a skill that takes time and experience to develop, and every single critique is completely unique.
Presenting and speaking about your artwork in front of the entire class can be really nerve wracking, and discussing the artwork by your peers is tricky. I know that many students worry about the social backlash that can sometimes occur if someone doesn’t take a comment in the way it was intended.
Anna Campbell was one of the rare students I’ve had in my Pre-College classes who was able to dive right into group critiques and offer helpful, constructive comments to her classmates. She was encouraging and supportive of her classmates, but was also candid and honest. Anna’s presence during group critiques was very important to the class: I thought about her as an “engine” who set a serious, focused tone to the conversation and who also inspired other students to participate at the same time. She offered thoughtful and clear ideas during group critiques, and was able to provide helpful suggestions for her peers with enthusiasm.
On top of her terrific critique skills, Anna was also extremely versatile in her artwork. In my Design Foundations course, she was just as confident creating work in a bright, graphic style (as seen in her playing card designs below) as she was creating dramatic, foreboding images by drawing with color. Anna combined her techniques with innovative concepts as well, something few students in high school think to do. The drawing above was her depiction of how she organizes her friends in her head. The image she developed had an unusual, surrealistic look, and portrayed her concept effectively.
Let’s hear from Anna now:
Hi! I’m Anna, freshly out of high school and about to move from Chicago to Providence to attend RISD this fall, where I hope to study illustration. In addition to being an artist, I’m an avid reader, collector of odd words, and ice cream enthusiast.
Though I’ve always expressed myself via drawing and faithfully filled sketchbook after sketchbook, I didn’t really think of art as a viable future option until my junior year of high school, when I began probing my interests and researching more.
It was my amazing experience at RISD Pre-College in the summer of 2015, where I studied under Prof Clara Lieu, that solidified my decision apply to RISD. (I wasn’t accepted to Hogwarts, so I figured art school was the next best thing) The mix of constructive criticism, skilled professors, and fellow artists I found there made for an incredibly stimulating learning environment and one of the best experiences of my life. I’m excited to share that same mix of awesome with others looking for educational art resources through Art Prof!
ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts which provides equal access to high quality art education for people of all ages and means. Imagine all of the resources here on our blog, except exponentially bigger, in greater quantity, and in more detail. Our Kickstarter campaign hit its $30k goal on July 19! Get info on our future launch by subscribing to our email list.
Ask the Art Prof Live was a weekly live video broadcast on my Facebook page where I provided professional advice for art students and professional artists. Ask the Art Prof began as a written column in 2013 and was featured in the Huffington Post from 2013-2015. See the full archive of columns here. I discussed being an artist today, art technique & materials, work strategies for artists, career advice, teaching art, and more.
Video Critique Program
I offer 30 minute video critiques on 8-20 artworks for professional artists working on a body of artwork, and for students working on an art portfolio for college admission. Watch sample video critiques and get more info here.
Youtube Playlist: Video Critiques on Art School Admissions Portfolios
Youtube Playlist: How to Draw a Portrait with Charcoal and Cross-Hatching
Youtube Playlist: Crit Quickies, 1 min. critiques on artworks