How to Ask for and Receive Critique

Tips on how to ask for and receive critique for artists.

Often amateur artists don't know how to ask for critique and more often, they don't know how to receive it in such a way that they can get the maximum benefit from it. There is certainly an art in providing critique which is a topic for another article however, it's equally important to know how to ask for critique in such a way that you maximise your chances of getting useful, actionable advice.

The first few tips will focus around how to ask for critique while the remainder will deal with how to make the best use of the critique that you receive and some situations you may encounter in getting feedback.

Warning: Image Heavy Post Ahead

A while ago, I put together an Imgur album showcasing my work from the age of 13/14 (2004/2005) to present. I stupidly uploaded this in anonymous mode and came to realise that I couldn't actually update this, so I'm moving it to its new home here on my blog so that I can update it as I go and keep the link handy.

Naturally, this post showcases the best of whatever I drew at the time. I'm slowly going through the process of digitising my sketchbooks which can be found here: Digitised Sketchbooks

2004 - 2009 (Age 13-18)
2010 - 2015 (Age 19-24)
2015 - 2017 (Age 24-26)
2018 - 2019 (Age 27-28)

Formal Art Education and Self-Directed Learning

My thoughts on formal art education and self-directed learning.

A few days ago, I came across an article espousing the benefits of auto-didacticism (the art of self-directed teaching and learning). I found myself nodding in agreement with some of their points but they were hidden behind a much longer rant about the evils of formal education. I've seen a lot of hate on the topic of formal education lately and while I kind of understand it, particularly with the current state of US education, I don't think it's a very fair assessment in most cases.

I'll preface this by saying I'm an Australian, whose university (college) education was paid for by the government, with no expectation to pay it back until earning a reasonable living wage. I'm aware of the financial burden that people in other countries experience in trying to gain an education and have tried to be mindful of this, however as always, your situation and mileage may vary.

I studied illustration design at university, digital painting at a concept design school, and have self-directed my own learning using online resources (such as Drawabox). Each of these offered something different and had its own pros and cons to contend with.

Draw A Box - Lesson 4

Draw A Box - Lesson 4 - Insects and Arachnids - Time Taken: 26 Days.

Cover Image

Lesson 4 is the lesson I was dreading the most and I think that's true of the majority of people that do the Drawabox course. That is, lesson 4 is insects and arachnids. This lesson was kind of an interesting combination of hard surfaces and organic animals. It was interesting from a technical standpoint, unfortunately it was incredibly difficult for me to look at the references for any significant amount of time. I live in Australia, so most of these bugs have the potential to pop out from nowhere and murder me. This is the first lesson with no exercises at the start, which is unfortunate, because I could've used some in drawing insect legs. Uncomfortable recommends an approach using sausagelike forms connected by balls which I found very hit and miss, particularly as my accuracy with my shoulder on the smaller sections left much to be desired. That said, if for some ungodly reason, I decided to draw insects again, I'd definitely be trying to incorporate the sausage forms a lot more.

Draw A Box - Lesson 3

Draw A Box - Lesson 3 - Plants - Time Taken: 41 Days.

Cover Image

From Lesson 2, I moved onto the next logical step… Lesson 3. Finally, I have escaped mechanical skills hell and am onto drawing real things! It was not without its challenges even though it was a territory much more familiar to me. The lesson opens with a couple of exercises much like Lesson 1 and 2 except that they're specific to the business of drawing plants. The first is to draw a page of leaves and the second is to draw a page of stems. I struggled somewhat with the leaves as flat objects existing in 3D space. I did quite a few pages of this but didn't go overboard like I did with my Lesson 2 sausages with contour ellipses (I did about 50 pages of that because I wasn't getting it). I don't feel like I nailed it down in the end so it'll be something I need to practice. Similarly, I had trouble with the stems in the same way I had trouble with the ellipse sausages - I have trouble seeing the ellipses turning in 3D. I did about 10 double sided pages of this one morning before breakfast… yeah, you shouldn't do that. It's a bit hard to control a pen when your hands are shaking from hunger. Anyway, I moved on from it and thought I'd just wing it with the plants, which turned out to be the right thing to do because I got the hang of them when drawing my plants.

Draw A Box - Lesson 2

Draw A Box - Lesson 2 - Time Taken: 87 Days.

Cover Image

After submitting my 250 box challenge, I was cleared to start [lesson 2]( Where lesson 1's focus is on straight lines, I'd say lesson 2's focus is on organic and curved lines. The lesson starts out with organic forms (I'll call them sausages) with contour ellipses and lines, it then moves on to adding texture to these from reference images, before tackling form intersections; both geometric and organic. Lesson 2 is more involved than lesson 1, but less so than the box challenge. I spent around three months on this lesson and that was… kind of my own fault. I'd in no way recommend anyone spend as long as I did on some of these exercises. So let's look at lesson 2.

Draw A Box - 250 Box Challenge

Draw A Box - 250 Box Challenge - Time Taken: 69 Days.

Cover Image

Once I finished [Lesson 1](, I was instructed to tackle the 250 box challenge because my boxes were, frankly, woeful. You might be thinking "250?! Why would you draw that many boxes?" or if you're familiar with the Draw A Box curriculum, you might be feeling my pain. The intention of drawing 250 boxes was to improve the student's understanding of 3D space. This unique form of torture started when a student kept bothering the creator of Draw A Box with questions and, in an attempt to get the student to leave him alone, instructed them to draw 250 boxes. When the student returned after drawing 250 boxes, they said that it helped them with their understanding of 3D space and so, it was then a task routinely assigned to those following Draw A Box. So, it was with that knowledge that I started the 250 box challenge.

Draw A Box - Lesson 1

Draw A Box - Lesson 1 - Time Taken: 51 Days.

Cover Image

Way back, probably 2-3 years ago, I found a community on Reddit called /r/ArtFundamentals which I subsequently subscribed to out of interest because the lessons looked interesting and ended up following their Facebook page as well. Fast forward to around October 2017 and the Facebook page posted up a link to their Discord server, which I'd started using heavily a few months back for online gaming. I decided to join up to the Discord server, was greeted by some… odd characters… and nearly a year down the track, I'm still hanging out there. What was interesting was how long it took me to actually start the lessons, even though I was hanging out on the Discord every day. I was offering critique to those that asked because whilst I can't draw very well myself, my degree trained my eye pretty well. It wasn't until late January 2018 that I actually sat down, set aside my preconceptions of my own skill level, and attempted the first lesson on