How to Grow as a Woodworker: Invite a Critique

Our Guild had the pleasure and honor of being critiqued by three excellent commentators Tuesday evening, November 12. The three "jurors" this year were Liz Gans, co-director of the Holter Museum of Art, Janeen McCarvel, interior designer at Boxwoods, and Richard Notkin, a ceramics sculptor and former resident of the Archie Bray Foundation. Liz, Janeen and Richard shared their personal responses to the variety of functional and art objects crafted by our woodworkers.

This is the second year we have had a critique during the run of our woodworking exhibit, and it was again educational and inspiring to hear from three very different people who are all so knowledgeable in their fields.

Richard Notkin asked of the group, "How do you challenge yourselves?" I am not a woodworker, though I feel blessed to be married to a woodworker. Even so, I really resonated with Richard's question because I make a living as a designer and artist, and that's something I ask myself constantly. How not to become stale with my designs and my artwork? For me, being the recipient of a critique has been something of a challenge most of my life. It ain't always easy to be open to criticism, even if the criticism is constructive. If you really put your heart into your work, you are personally invested in it. And it's easy to take a critique too personally.

So .... I would say in some ways, the members of the guild who attended Tuesday night's critique were challenging themselves. And hopefully everyone took away something positive from the critique -- perhaps more self confidence, a renewed commitment to growth in your work, or maybe an affirmation that your woodworking is going in a good direction.

I hope the guild continues to invite critique as a regular part of our annual exhibits and as a way to challenge ourselves to look critically at our own artistic growth.

all photos Copyright © 2007 by Maureen Shaughnessy

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