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Friday, September 23, 2016

The Crit – Part One

Klimt Salome
de Kooning Woman V
I was a music and then art major in college.

Critiques of my flute chops were a simple matter of How's her embouchure? Is she hitting the notes? Sailing though smoothly/seemingly without effort? It was all about technique, skill.

The art department was different. It seemed like there was an assumption on most profs respective parts that all us lovely studenten types had mad skillz and knowledge already; that we were just there for a radical assist in freeing up the creative juices of our brains.

Maybe true for some but most of us budding Klimts and Tàpies were at the start of our learning paths. We had raw talent and were just beginning to really understand and absorb how to use the paint, charcoal and ink to bring a model’s pose or a spark in our imaginations to life.

I wanted to learn technique – HOW can I accurately represent human form. I wasn’t ready to go full metal Estes or Rothko. Yet.

I remember one particular end of term advanced drawing crit. The instructor seemed to fancy himself molto cutting edge, on the verge of breaking big in Art World. Considering that we were in a small Appalachian backwater of a college town AND his work, at the time, was more gee-this’ll-look-good-over-the-sofa than contender for a Whitney Biennial, it's an understatement to say that he was delusionally full of himself.
Tàpies Lesperit-Català

In any case, for this full class crit, I presented four small drawings. They were hyper-real pencil drawings – close ups of different body parts, muscles and limbs of athletes. I was proud of what I’d accomplished. He’d hectored me all term for being too free with my line or some such. Nothing I did made this player happy. Meanwhile, one of his fave hipster boychiks could piss on an 8"x10" sheet of Strathmore and he'd swoon with praise.

He told me that I should’ve drawn a Sunkist label around the navel. Vaughn also loudly and clearly, in front of the entire class, voiced his doubts that I’d been the pencil magician who created the drawings. (I most def was) He then gave me a D for the term.

Another by Kevin – the man had monster talent
Angry? Me? Oh yeah, there was serious steam and heat comin' off yur faithful scribe's tête.
painting done by Kevin Scott in college

Now, I’d heard that he was besties with the woodworking department's new teacher. Dude was up for tenure and I was on the student committee which was advising the department heads on whether the guy was all that and a bag of chips or not. He was decidedly not. We strongly and unaminmously suggested NO.

Hmmm, was that D meant as tit for tat? Did this doofus just not like me (animosity rolled off him in waves)? Maybe a little of both? I went to the department chair and complained – clear and firm. It was one of the first times in my life that I stood and fought versus my uzsh tactic of ignoring the beasts and walking away. The department chair asked me what grade do you feel you deserve? I thought A! but, in a moment of insecurity, said B. That’s what I got and the idiot teacher got a talking to.

Later, before I graduated from that ego ridden, emotional cesspool, the prof cornered me in my studio and attempted to justify why he gave me that D. You see, he says, he wanted me to challenge the grade, to stand up for myself. He felt I was too timid and meek – too much a thrall to my best friend. . HAH! Gee, rilly now? Nice try asswipe boy but there's no gold star in your future. You've failed Machiavelli 101.

I asked him why didn’t you just talk to me about this? Present your concerns and offer support? And then I walked out.

Rule numero uno in giving someone – a student, friend, coworker – a critique, get your goddamn ego and emotions the fuck outta the way. If you can’t? Don't do the eval.

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