View Full Version : Bipolar personal print evaluation?

01-31-2008, 12:19 AM
How much trouble do you have evaluating your own work? I really struggle with coming up with definite acceptance or rejection of my own work. It is like being Bipolar. I can be really excited about something and think it is good one day and then think it is trash the next day. It is from some changing perspective on things and evaluating from one point of view one day and another point of view another time. It causes a lot of wasted time and confusion for me. I can be working on a project and spend a bunch of time on producing a lot of work and it seems like I am doing something that is very important to me. Then after awhile I lose the ability to see anything good about the work and it just seems like garbage. I have litterally thrown away whole garbage cans full of work on impulse when work that had seemed worth while before all of a sudden seemed to have no redeaming value. And it works in reverse as well. I completely reject something and keep throwing it in the reject box and then one day I look at it and, wow that looks sort of interesting. then I put it in a mat and put it up on the wall and wow it is really good. How come I didn't see it like that before?

I spend an awful lot of time evaluating what I have done and reevaluating it over and over with changing points of view and sometimes it is good and sometimes it is crap. It is maddening.

I end up displaying stuff in mats for long periods of time trying to get a feeling for the work that I can depend on.

Does anyone have any personal tricks they use to keep clear vision and open mind while self evaluating art work?
Just curious

01-31-2008, 01:37 AM
try standing back...? (in a few different ways)

keep it visible - tack it up on a wall... keep looking at it... then ignore it for awhile.... and look again... and again...
if it's not 'doing it' for you - try to figure out what's wrong and see if you can't improve it... etc etc... ad infinitum. It's not 'easy' advice I know... but it's really all you can do. Also- try to ask youself honestly, when you were excited by it, precisely what it was about it that made you feel that way, etc...

01-31-2008, 07:17 AM
I sometimes will mount a work (photo or painting) in a temporary frame and hang it over the toilet. I figure I will then encounter it casually a number of times each day, without consciously setting about to evaluate it. It always "just happens to be there." After a few days, I've formed an opinion about it's state of finish that is much more grounded and less the result of a forced critique. It also brings the whole nobility of fine art thing down to reality -- the picture is hanging in a bathroom!

Funny, but my wife complains when I do this that she never sees the work...

01-31-2008, 07:39 AM
Here's a thread on a related/similar theme.


01-31-2008, 08:18 AM
Don't feel like the Lone Ranger Dennis, I think we're all in the same boat.

I too blow hot and cold on my work - particularly when it's new. I usually make "reasonable" 8x10 RCs and pin them in my office for as long as it takes before doing the final printing. I've found that a "reasonable" print keeps me better focused, (pardon the pun:p) on whether or not the image itself is worthwhile. Whereas, with a finished print I tend to focus too heavily on the craft. If, after a few weeks I decide the image is "Fiber Worthy" then I'll print it - having determined over the few weeks 'probation' period what technicals are needed for the finished print. From that point I'll fret over whether the printing was executed well or should it be redone and improved!

Because it's all about emotion, (I've always said that we photograph and emotion - not a subject or object,) we are sometimes in the frame of mind to "get" our own work , and at other times we're not. Whenever I'm in a funk, I re-read Edward Weston's Daybooks - I can't compare my work but I sure do recognize the emotional roller-coaster!

If we didn't second guess our work it would indicate a distinct lack of pride in it. So, on that basis, you bipolarity is a good thing.

Hope this helps.


P.S. Keep on :):p:D ;)

01-31-2008, 10:40 AM
I did pin a print up over my basement toilet once years ago for that very reason and I came to love it but only in that context. I know if I ever take the photo down it will join the reject box and I like it too much for that. It is like an old friend that has turned kind of yellow and has an unfortunate coffee splash on it.

My wife is a help in that if she likes something I know it is appealing to the artless masses. If she doesn't like something it has a chance. Nah she isn't that bad... but sometimes it seems like it.