I'm finishing new pieces all over the place, and can't post them because they're presents and family members might see them here!
Expect a flood of "you haven't seen this, it was given to X" posts after the holiday, though. That will be fun. There is one piece I can put up. It'll be listed on Etsy shortly.
After I did my Too Small For Nearly Everything pouch, I started a modified Cellini spiral to hang it from, but the spiral just overpowered the delicacy of the netting on the pouch. It was like hanging a canary cage from a pit-bull chain. (I've been working on my metaphors. Or maybe that's a simile. I get those confused.) Good image, though, huh?
So I just made the spiral into a quick bracelet, using a gold-over-ceramic bead as a button closure. Question: is there some kind of formula to figure out how many beads on the loop closure? I always struggle with that. Many times I think I've measured properly, only to have the loop end up too tight once finished. One can always tighten a loop, but loosening involves unpicking and redoing the beading. Ugh.
I also wanted to talk a little about critique. To me, this means "tell me what you would have done differently, or how you see the balance of the elements, or what sticks out like a sore thumb, or whatever." Critique is necessary to growth as an artist (perhaps in other areas as well but we're talking art here), as necessary as practice, and access to materials and time.
I have to say that all the comments I've gotten about my December Challenge piece have been wonderful and supportive and much appreciated. I particularly like when people share their own struggles with design and execution. Not only does it reassure me I'm not alone, it helps me see how others overcome the problems they encounter, and gives me hints as to how to solve those or similar problems when I encounter them.
I really really really don't want this to sound like complaint, nor do I mean it to discourage comments (because golly, all those supportive comments feel great!), but good critique seems to be near impossible to find. I once joined a local art-quilter's group, seeking critiques of my work. Even when they had agreed to do so, people just couldn't seem to bring themselves to say anything negative about someone else's work, even when that comment might help that person improve their art. Or when that person has agreed in advance to take critique in the spirit offered.
I know there's a lot of confusion of critique with criticism, which has many negative connotations and can indeed be done in a spirit of meanness. Some people are very sensitive to any hint of conflict or negativity...particularly women of a certain age, who've been trained in our society's Cult of Niceness. In critique, one can pick apart the details of a work, while still thinking that work is wonderful, overall. Not Perfect doesn't in any way mean Not Good.
I work with my husband as an editor of his writing. Over the course of years, we've evolved a teamwork and critique method that results in writing far above what either of us could do alone. I started by never telling him his writing was good when it wasn't. Boy, talk about your inconvenient truths!!! That took some supremely diplomatic phrasing, as well as encouragement and admiration, even if it was only for effort. That way, when I did praise his work, he could trust that I was evaluating honestly. No BS, basically. Now, after much practice, his writing is of consistently high quality. I find myself editing more for typos and missed words than for issues of style or content. It wasn't an easy process, and required both of us to act like adults (way too tough, some days), but it has resulted in something of lasting value.
I would sincerely like to have that kind of critique and development teamwork with other bead artists. I need to get better at the craft and art of what I do, and I feel like simply stumbling around working alone isn't going to get me there. Perhaps I feel pressed for time. Seems like I need to move this along, having come to beading so late in life.
My question is, do any of you seek or participate in critique groups? If you do, does it help you the way I think it might help me? Where would I look to find such critique groups?