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Teaching & Learning Art Online: Art Critiques

Welcome art teachers!

While nothing will ever compare to an in person critique, online critiques really CAN work. You just have to find the right format for the class you’re teaching. In the video above and in the text below, I lay out several viable options for critiques. Check out our Critiques area too for examples!

Have questions or need more help?
Join the Art Prof Discord server, we have channels for educators in high school and college where you can get support and answers from other teachers! Prof Lieu checks in daily and will help out.

INSTAGRAM CRITIQUE

An Instagram critique is the most casual, brief version of a critique, if it can even be called a critique. A comment on Instagram is more a little boost of motivation for a student that actually can go a very long way.

From a teacher’s point of view, such a brief comment may not seem very effective, but for many students, it is the difference between whether they keep going or not. This page has more information on how to use social media as an artist.

Gouache Self-Portrait Painting, Julie Sharpe

“Nice olive greens in the face!” -Prof Lieu

PROS
• Casual, fast, and easy to type a 1-2 sentence comment.
Motivates students, in their mind, a comment has tremendous weight.
Ask students to tag you
Create your own hashtag (example: #proflieu)
Hashtag makes it possible for students to see what others are going
All you’ll need is to have the Instagram app on your smart phone.

CONS
You’ll have to check Instagram often, 1-2x daily
1-2 sentence comment is not substantial as a critique.
All your comments are public.

WRITTEN CRITIQUES

Written critiques are most effective in a group platform, such as Discord, where you can set up several critique channels.  Students can post images of their artwork and get feedback from others.

Set up an expectation that posting images means that you have to reciprocate and critique the artworks of others. Otherwise, you might end up with students who just post and don’t participate actively with other students. To see examples of how critiques in Discord might work, join the Art Prof Discord. (it’s free)

Pros of written critiques
• No scheduling required, can be done any time
• Write at your own pace
• Critique can be edited and refined as much as you want.
• Text files take up very little space in Google Drive/your laptop
• You can determine the length of the critique, anywhere from 1-3 paragraphs.

Cons of written critiques
• Typed critiques are more easily misinterpreted because the tone of your voice is missing
• Can be time consuming to write depending on your writing skills
• Maintaining a personal connection to students is tougher because they don’t see your face and can’t listen to your voice.

WRITTEN CRITIQUE EXAMPLES

Photograph by Zhao Yangchen

Critique #1
“Right off the bat, I’m so excited by your desire to experiment and try new things as an artist, which is just so important in pushing yourself. One area I think that you can push in this specific piece is perhaps how your concept works with your technique or the mediums you’re using.

For example, in your artist statement, you talk a lot about disguise and that’s a big concept in this piece. But, how could that really be pushed in the way you use the person that you’re photographing. For example, how could their pose speak to the idea of disguise, maybe you could even be more liberal with the band-aids that are on them. Almost like they’re a mess.

 You’re doing such a great job of exploring mixed media and being really bold as an artist so I would just say like great job and just keep pushing and experimenting more.”

Mixed Media Sculpture by Alexandra Bowman

Critique #2
“I think you’re really succeeded in getting your viewer to see this everyday object in a totally new perspective.

The needle and thread part wasn’t immediately apparent to me. I thought of a river, or a tangle of hair. I think that slow realization is good for the viewer, but I would also like to see that river extended into a longer thread.

The handmade quality of the eye of the needle makes it look as if it were an artifact built for some kind of worship or place in the home. For that reason I would consider how the pedestal functions with your sculpture. Does it need to be a museum white pedestal or could it be something else?”

AUDIO CRITIQUES

Video is not always better than audio!  Video demands the attention of our eyes in a way that can be very exhausting. (one of the reasons why “Zoom fatigue” exists)

Audio can be a great option because your voice is still a powerful way to develop a tighter relationship with your students, and tends to be warmer and friendlier than a typed message which can come across as cold and detached.

Pros
• Easily recorded on smart phone with the voice memo app.
• No need to worry about how you look on video, record in your pajamas!
• Hearing your voice inherently fosters a closer connection with students.
• Speaking is much faster than typing & you’ll probably say more.
• Nuances in your voice prevent misinterpretation that can easily occur in a typed critique.
• Sound files are small compared to video files and won’t take up as much space.

Cons
No visual of your face, feels more anonymous than a video
Recording in 1 go is faster, which puts pressure on continuous speaking. (you won’t want to bother editing the audio, it’s too time consuming and requires editing skills)

Recording Options
• Use the Voice Memo app on your smart phone.
• Download the Google Drive app.
• Upload the audio file from the Voice Memo app to Google Drive.
• Move the audio file in Google Drive into the student’s folder.

Sharing Options
Google Drive
• Upload the audio file to the student’s folder in Google Drive.
• Upload the audio file to Google Drive and send the link to the student.

Soundcloud
• Upload the audio file to Soundcloud and send the link to the student.
• You can embed the audio file into any site. (see the audio files here on this page above)

VIDEO CRITIQUES

Pros
• Seeing your face and hearing your voice is the closest connection you can make with a student remotely.

Cons
• You have to consider how you look. (no recording in pajamas!) 
• Video files are much larger than audio files and will take up space on your computer and Google Drive.

RECORDING OPTIONS
• Record the video on your smart phone.
• Record the video with the webcam on your laptop.

Sharing Options

Google Drive
• Download the Google Drive app.
• Upload the video file from the Voice Memo app into Google Drive.
• Move the video file in Google Drive into the student’s folder.
• Con: having lots of video files will quickly fill up your Google Drive and your laptop.

YouTube 
• Upload the video file to YouTube, then choose privacy settings:
• Public: video shows up in searches and on your channel.
• Unlisted: video does not show up in searches or on your channel, but anyone who has the specific link can view the video.
• Private: add student’s email and invite them to view the video
• Pro: you don’t have to keep the original video files, as YouTube has the option for you to download the video file any time.

1:1 PHONE CALL

Pros
• A 1:1 call is the closest connection you can make with a student remotely.
• 1:1 calls allows you to give all of your attention to that student.
• Flexibility in when the call is scheduled, although it’s much more efficient to clump together all of your students in 1 chunk of time for these calls.
• Accommodates students in a different time zone.

Cons
• Time consuming if you have a large class of students
• For very small classes, bi-weekly calls are idea.
• For large classes, try for 2 calls per semester.

Call Options
• Zoom
• Phone call
• Skype

If you use Zoom or Skype, have both of you turn off the video so you can concentrate on what’s being said. This also allows you to kick back your legs and relax during the call, instead of being glued to your screen, as many people do during a Zoom call.

Consider an old fashioned phone call. For those of us over the age of 40, remember those multi hour phone calls we did that weren’t exhausting the way Zoom calls are?  It’s because with no video component, you can relax, sit in any position and just focus on the call,

TEACHING & LEARNING ART ONLINE

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