Monday, February 1, 2010

Learning and Growing--Signing on for a Critique Service & a Work in Progress

I have just begun working with an exceptional painter, teacher, and mentor, Linda Blondheim, via her e-critique service. The photo shows one of the works in progress I sent to her for suggestions. I know which parts of this painting I feel need to change and what I still plan to do with it--it will be fascinating to hear her reflections. Hopefully, in a couple of weeks or less, I will be posting the finished version for you to see.
I have taken several classes and workshops from Linda in her charming studio, out in the countryside near Gainesville, Florida. Every time, I came away encouraged, energized, and bursting with new skills and insights to apply to my painting. Although she is too busy to offer such classes right now, she still teaches via the Internet. One of these days, I will take one of her e-classes, but her e-critique service fits my schedule and needs better this winter and spring. Each week, I will e-mail Linda images of a few pieces I am working on along with particular questions I have about them. She will then analyze and critique them, returning not just her verbal commentary, but scanned images of the works with alternate possibilities sketched in. Then, I can get back to work. Linda is respectful and understanding when I decide not to follow a suggestion, but most of the time, her pointers are right on target and help guide my process in a direction that feels right for me. If you would like information about her many services and products for artists, click on "artist resources" on her web site.
One of the teaching qualities I appreciate most in Linda is her sensitivity to each student's own style and vision. Some art teachers seem to think that all the students should precisely imitate their style and technique, sometimes even their subject matter. That approach may be helpful to some students, but drives me right out the door. Of course, I know that I have a lot to learn, and I humbly work to improve and grow with every session at the easel. However, the best sort of teacher for me is one who guides and encourages me to develop freely in my own unique creative direction.
Question of the day: What inspirational teacher or learning experience stands out for you?


  1. You are too kind Mary. Thank you so much for describing exactly what I try to do for all of my critique clients.
    Linda Blondheim

  2. You are welcome, Linda. I'm glad you feel my description reflects your goals. It certainly reflects my experience of your generous and beneficial guidance.

  3. I hate critiquing a painting, Mary. Always have. I suppose because I sometimes get my feelings hurt when it happens to me. Of course, well stated constructive criticism is one thing and that I can take. I know a good teacher gives just that. As far as your question, I had a drawing prof, whom I then had again for watercolor painting back when I was at PLU in the mid to late 1990's. He always seemed to appreciate my vision and his critiques were always spot on. Many times he would pencil line on paper the way it should be right over my own drawings, which helped immensely. That all said, apparently I still can't transition what should be drawn with what actually extends from my hands! LOL

  4. Mary.... you are so lucky to be taking a class with Linda!! Her work is fantastic!! I've never heard of e-critique..... it's very cool! Have fun with it!!

  5. Thanks for your reflections on the arts of teaching and critiquing, Autumn. I don't think you need to make any apologies for your drawing skills--like many artists, you are probably your own most demanding critic.

    I completely agree with you about LInda's work, Manon, and she is also a super teacher and "critique master". I know I'll have fun with it and also that I'll work hard and grow to a new level in some of my skills, from basic composition and values, to the techniques that come further along in the development of a painting.

    It's great to hear from both of you!

  6. Mary,
    Thanks for your stop on my blog, I appreciate it. You are right to seek any help needed, we all need it. I highly recommend healthy critiques because with out it we do not grow. We need the courage to see what might need change. When I was in art school doing something over always had wonderful results of learning even if the piece was not perfect. Your doing wonderful work and with the help of these critiques can only get even better. Blessings. PS check out my new project "the flying moleskins".

  7. Thank you for stopping in and for sharing your insights, Dominique. I appreciate your encouragement and hope to keep on learning and growing as long as I live.

  8. This is going to be another great painting Mary. It is so nice to have someone to mentor us. In the begining when I started doing macro photography I had one too and it helped me a lot. Nice to see what you look like and good luck on Facebook. Everyone have asked me to join too but I hardly have time to blog anymore let alone tackle anything new. :)

  9. A great teacher is the best! I like your painting and your enthusiasm. I sense you are a lifer when it comes to learning.

  10. Thank you, Joan; I rather like this painting myself. Yes, having a mentor is priceless. Something to remember as we move along and have opportunities to mentor someone else.

    I know what you mean about hardly having time to blog anymore, but please don't stop. Your blog is amazing!

    Grayquill, I think you have read me right. Of course, that's how I always feel when someone makes positive comments!! Learning is a great joy for me, and clearly, for you, too, as evidenced by the fascinating stories on your blog.