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I think this is an excellent explanation of how to look at modern art, especially the work that lands in museums. The thing is that to me, this kind of art is academic art. Meaning, you often have to have education and understanding of historic art, and context to appreciate it. This is a great kind of art, but it does generally limit the audience. This doesn't make it any less amazing, but it does make it less accessible.
I think truly epic works of art often transcend their audiences to reach the general population. It's like any other form of creativity. For example, "Grapes of Wrath" by Steinbeck is a brilliant literary work that is generally broader read than another brilliant work by James Joyce "Ulysses". There is a good reason for this; Ulysses is much less accessible to the general reader. Additionallly, epic works transcend the time and place they were created to resonate with people regardless of the era in which they are viewed.
That said, I think the world needs both kinds of art, both the academic and the accessible. There's a time and place for both.
You don't necessarily have to know what you want to achieve with a piece of work. Some artists do, some artists don't. I vacillate between the two, actually, depending on my medium. And now that you list your influences and interests, I can completely see them in your work, it's really cool, and interestingly made the work resonate with me a bit more.
On to a critique of the work: one thing I would mention: I don't think the background, or "wall" markings need to be so uniform across the page. If you vary them more, with more gaps of white, it will create more movement around the picture, and will have the effect of making the solid, more blocked in spaces stand out more. ... If that's what you want. :) I know that when I did pen and ink work, I had this need to cover the page more uniformly, which actually made the piece more static. Additionally, it could help to lay on some more black in some areas, to move the eye more dynamically as well.
SO...on to more thoughts about all this...it's kinda long so I ended up separating it out a bit....
See, a lot of critiquing is about saying not "oh that will make x y or z "better"" but is about saying "this change will bring about such and such result." And the question is, do you want "such and such result." For example, I recall someone mentioning that the skull looks a little "cartoonish". In the creative art world, this is not a judgement call. The question is truly, were you aware that it is cartoonish? Is that the effect you were going for? Yes? Perfect! No to both? then perhaps you want to change it. Or perhaps you like it that way.
I understand about the yes men. I think that is the one major benefit of having taken art classes. It teaches you to critique art work, and also TAKE criticisms without it become personal. Generally the goal is to get away from phrases such as "I like x y or z" Or, at the least, figure out WHY you like them, so that technique is understood. This can be taken to an extreme, of course; It's part of the reason why art history books can be such verbosely dense to the point that they make little sense. I will never forget the description I read: "space where human refuse heap goes to be discovered" or some such (plus like 15 other words). What did they mean? City garbage dump. I mean, really?
Or perhaps all I wrote is just too much analyzing of art, which is totally cool, too.
In my experience, it's easier to trust someone's opinion about your art if they have history with your body of work, and have critiqued your work over time. I find that I trust a friend who's seen what I've done, and who's some times told me a piece needs changing, or there are elements that are good, etc. So when they say "that's amazing" it has past support. The first step to getting an honest critique is to show a body of work, and not just one piece.
Additionally, it also helps to explain what you were trying to achieve, because artist's goals can be wildly different. A good critique is tailored to you very specifically.
True...but there will be some sort of parameters of similarity, because we are human. We will have things in common....in general. As opposed, to say, comparing a human and an ant.
I love the erg (rowing machine...don't ask me what it stands for! hah.) Actually, what I love is outrigger canoeing, but the erg is the closest thing I can get to it in the gym. The most important thing is technique. It's great for doing distance training or sprint training.
I am working on being in the top canoe in my outrigger canoeing club. It's a racing team, and the best women are some pretty serious athletes. Last year, when I joined the team, I weighed 192 lbs. Now I'm at 160. I've got a long way to go still, but the journey has been pretty amazing.
I agree here. Compliment people in general, when you see something you like, with anyone. This way you develop the habit of not expecting to get anything from the compliment. And then if there's a positive response to it, all the better.
I think there are a variety of things that can be done, as other people have mentioned, such as being concise, and just listening. One thing that helps me is that my husband will call me out on it. He'll say "squirrel" when I drift in the conversation. If you have an SO or good friend that's willing to call you out on it, to start noticing it, that can be a good thing.
One thing I do is try and limit myself from telling stories that may (in my mind) relate to whatever the topic of discussion is, because 1. my story probably doesn't relate, or the connection is too thin to be understood and 2. people probably don't want to hear it anyways.
Another thing to remember is that it isn't inherently wrong to wander off topic in conversation, unless it is a directed conversation, such as a business meeting, etc.