Art Critique Pep Talk # 2

Can I submit works in progress?

Listen to Pep Talk #1 (Critique Mindset) Here.


A question that comes up a lot as we prepare for a critique is “can I submit works in progress?”

The short answer to this question is “yes, absolutely! You can submit whatever you want.” 

Even the barest sketch is worth talking about and I’m sure you can get a lot out of a critique of a piece that you’re actively working on.

But if you’re thinking about submitting a work in progress, it might be useful to ask yourself why you are tempted to do so.

There are lots of reasons you might make that choice: maybe you’re struggling with a particular piece and you want some advice about how to move forward. Maybe you’re stuck. Maybe you think you’re onto something really great and you want to improve a really good thing. Maybe you’re just excited to share!

But sometimes artists submit works in progress because they’re perfectionists who are afraid of being judged on something that they’ve declared to be complete. I know this to be true because I am one of those people.

It’s so much safer to say “hey, would you take a look at my draft—I know it has some problems, I don’t really like this part, but I’m working on it” than it is to say “I made something and I want to know what you think.”

And then there’s the fear that you’ll discover that something is “wrong” with a piece you’ve made that you quite like. You used to think it was good, but now you’ll never be able to look at it in the same way again — you won’t be able to unsee all the problems and it is too late to  “correct” them.

The good news is that critique is always about what you are going to do in future creations. It isn’t about fixing problems.

This is not about telling you to move a tree one inch to the left in a particular painting or "hmmm that skin tone isn’t quite right is it, you should add one small splash of blue."

Your critique is bigger than that.

I hope that by the end of your critique you’ll like what you’ve created even more than when you came in, because the piece will show you something about where you want to go in the future. When you look at it you’ll think “this is where I really started to see the direction I wanted to go.”

So that’s my mini pep talk for today. Again, this is intended to reach those of you who plan to participate in a critique with me and my mother, Linda Kemp, but feel free to share with any perfectionist artists you know!


Jane Cochrane

This is helpful … I was vacillating over which paintings to put forward but this pep talk has helped clarify it for me.

Tommy McDonell

Gee my only problem is that I would like it critiqued before the do date as I’m have to choose which paintings to put in to a juried show.

Other than that I am fine. I have critiqued and taken classes in it. It is a response.

Leave a comment