Sunday, October 9, 2011

Never Be Surprised at Judges' Comments

Well, I like the piece and had enjoyed hand-embroidering it over a period of six months before layering and machine quilting it. (Silk With Stitches in previous blog post.) The center section is collaged silks I dyed, and the border (also backing) is a high-quality hand-dyed cotton sateen (by Heide Stoll-Weber). I posted it in a critique group I am in and received several affirming bits of feedback, along with some reservations:
"Love the spontaneous feel to your piece and use of color but my eye stops in the lower R corner."
" I found the center totally mesmerizing, dreamlike."
" I love the flow of your piece. The silks are beautiful and your stitching and embroidery choices are perfect. The center design is powerful and the borders frame it nicely.  I did not stop at the lower right corner because my eye found the blue silk in the bottom third of the center."
Getting feedback from my peers is a great way to learn what another artist sees. I didn't enter it in the quilt show expecting anything more than another artist's viewpoint. Imagine my surprise as well as puzzlement when the judging sheet read these eleven words.
     Visual Impact: Soft
     Technical Construction: Too mixed and too distracting
     Quilting: Fair
     Additional Comments:  Nice blend of colors
It's certainly a good thing that I don't place much importance on judges' remarks! I haven't figured out what a "soft" visual impact is other than her way of saying she didn't like it. Although she thought it "too mixed and too distracting," she complimented the "nice blend of colors." These statements seem contradictory, but they reinforce my thinking: Never Be Surprised at Judges' Comments!


Tanya Brown said...

Your piece is lovely. It just appears that this particular judge was on a different page.

Part two of "never be surprised at judges' comments": consider the source/context. That include the type of show (art-oriented vs. a thinly disguised derivative of the county fair) and the judge's background.

I've gotten comments such as "nice full binding" on intensely thread-painted portraits. Well, I guess I'm glad they liked the binding, although that wasn't really the point of the piece. At times, I've wondered if that's like telling an opera singer "nice dress!" rather than complimenting her performance.

I also attended a class in which the instructor ripped into art quilts and told students to never use a certain ink application method. It so happened that that's the method I use, it works just fine for me, and she'd just judged an art quilt of mine which used it.

C'est la vie!

janettestitches said...

I also like this piece, the colours are great and I also wonder at some comments I have had.Two comments from judge's on the same piece were so opposite each other I wondered if I had entered two works!!!!!

Martha said...

Thanks, Tanya and Janette,
This judge gave lots of "soft" for visual impact, occasionally a "medium" and I heard of one "outstanding" and these words didn't seem to relate to awards. Like I said, I don't pay any attention to judging comments--just thought these were strange and rather comical!

Holly Knott said...

I've never been able to figure out how comments can be objective and not subjective unless they are commenting on construction quality!!

Lorchen said...

Martha, I find the unpredictability of judges' comments quite amusing. Top marks for one last year when I had entered a piece with lots of appliqué. One category on the sheet said: 'Appliqué, execution and technique'. The judge put n/a for not applicable. Well, I guess my appliqué is so superb that she didn't even see it. Or, also possible, she needs to have her eye sight checked. :)