After I said that I thought one of my "crossroads" tops wasn't good enough and needed to be fixed, Shannon left a comment: "I wonder if you would be willing to share some of your critical thought processes or just general thoughts about what makes something good or not. I struggle with this pretty often with my pieces. Sometimes it's very clear that something isn't good, but when it's not so obvious I have a harder time. I also really struggle with differentiation between pieces that are "good" and pieces that I just like. I would love to hear your thoughts on this!"
Shannon, thanks for asking -- this question is one of the all-time big ones for artists, right up there with "what is art?" Every artist, in every discipline, struggles with this every time a new piece is made. So developing your critical eye is just as important a skill for an artist as actually learning to make things.
Sometimes you can learn and practice this skill by joining a critique group, or taking an art class where critique is part of the routine. Sometimes you can learn a lot by reading comments from critics or teachers, or from books. I have been a regular reader of the magazine Art in America for many years, as well as the art section of the New York Times. I particularly enjoy the show reviews where at least one piece is pictured, along with the critic's comments.
Unfortunately, there is little published critique in the fiber art world, since Fiberarts magazine folded several years ago. So you may get more out of discussions of paintings, sculptures, mixed media or installations. The elements of "good art" apply across all mediums, so if you learn to detect good or bad composition or color use in a painting you can also detect it in a quilt.
Here's the quilt I showed last week and said I needed to go back and improve it:
Here's my favorite miniature of the week: