Week in Review 2023 – 03/24

Critique versus Criticism

There is a difference between critique versus criticism. Artists choose to belong to critique groups. I have yet to hear of a criticism group. Why critique? Simple, because the purpose of critique is to analyze a work versus making either pejorative or complimentary remarks. Sure it is rewarding to hear positive comments about my work. Still I find it more useful to receive analysis of my work. In other words, what is or isn’t working, why and what could be done to make the work better.

In the Beginning with the large star included.

Time for Critique

I am fortunate to belong to two different critique groups. Both groups are comprised of fiber artists. What makes them especially rewarding is every single artist approaches the medium differently, but we all share the ability to critique artwork. They have accompanied me on my In the Beginning journey. Now that the piecing is done (slight pause to reflect on the accomplishment) analysis of the work has started in earnest. I am turning to you for feedback. What do you think of the largest white star in the upper right quadrant? Does it detract or provide a focal point? If it detracts what would you do to fix it.

In the Beginning with the large star removed.

A Solution

My critique groups made several suggestions about the star. One suggestion that resonated with me was to remove it. The second image of In the Beginning shows what the piece might look like with the star removed. What do you think and most importantly why do you feel the way you do?

Project Quilting

My Project Quilting 14 – 6 entry is Happiness is a Sunny Window

One recommendation I received from an artist in one of my critique groups is to give the “pillars” section of In the Beginning more dimension through trapunto. I love that idea. So, when I designed my final piece for Project Quilting, I purposefully designed it as a way to test adding dimension to the object in the foreground. This is my first time using in trapunto in this way. Frankly, I am chuffed.

Rainbow Scrap Challenge

Does the green background of Happiness is a Sunny Window count towards working on my Rainbow Scrap Challenge? Not really, but I did use green and I did piece scraps when you add In the Beginning to the mix. Therefore, I am calling it close enough. No, critique needed here.

I’m linking up to the following posts:

By Gwyned Trefethen

I am an artist who uses fabric, thread and miscellany to create designs gifted to me by my imagination.


  1. Hmmm…I would remove the large star. It definitely draws the eye — but to my mind, it creates the illusion that the explosion around it is a large animal and the star is its next unwitting bit of dinner! 😉

    As for trapunto…maybe…if subtle. But it might be a challenge to do between the backing and the resistance put up by all the seams of the piecing on the top. Hmmm…

    1. How long have we been critiquing each other’s work, Margaret? Must be close to 15 years now. I confess, when I first saw images of the Pillars of Creation I immediately sensed a T-Rex shape to them. So, I totally grasp the dinner analogy. I did think of having a star being launched from one of its arms/claws/hands. Perhaps if I do a series that will be another approach I take. The raison d’être for the pillars is to birth planets and stars, not to gobble them up.

      In the Beginning will be approximately 48″ H x 52″ wide. Like you, I am wondering how trapunto will fare because of the size and the unusual shape. However, I am fairly confident that by stitching in the ditch along the seam lines it is doable. The hardest part for me with trapunto is to trim the excess batting outside of the area to be double/triple batted. Remember that left handed issue? They don’t make pelican beak appliqué scissors for left handers at least I haven’t found any. I do think the trapunto will be fairly subtle due to the scale. I don’t want it to come across as a child’s toy.

      1. I would also remove the white star. It draws the eye right to it. It just seems very boxy. The rest of the piece has more flow to it. The white star interupts that flow. If it could be incorporated without the squares around it. Perhaps appliqued on top….jusr a thought

  2. The only star that works for me is the lower left white one. The others look too traditional for this quilt. I see that you have made them ‘wonky’ but the center is still a square, maybe if the center was smaller and the star arms longer it would look less traditional. Now on the right side where the star is removed also has a traditional vibe to me, it is heavy and chunky. It has more straight lines unlike the blue area on the left side which has more steps and integrates better with its adjacent colours. Good luck, you are almost there.

    1. I agree with your analysis of the stars. Interestingly, all three small stars have arms that attach to a central square. The difference with the lower left on is that I used the same/similar value through out, while the other two the center is darker so the square stands out.

      I really struggled with the placement of fabrics in my sample 16 patch that I pinned over the large star. I used the original photo for reference along with what I had already done. The photo has more “steps” outside the pillars and is more block like inside where the star was. It didn’t read right to me either. Fortunately playing with a 16 patch is an easy thing to do.

      Thank you for taking the time to critique my work. I will take your thoughts under advisement.

  3. off the top of my head, I like the stars for focus. I love this piece, but when the star was removed I suddenly saw the silhouette of a praying mantis…
    let’s get a team of psych. on that shall we? lol

    1. Personally, one of things that fascinates me about the Pillars of Creation is how easy it is see animal shapes in them. A bit like looking at clouds and having them remind you of different objects. There was a great Peanuts cartoon with Charlie Brown and Linus lying on their backs looking up at clouds. Linus shares what he sees – all kinds of amazing things such as the Parthenon and Sphinx and then turns to Charlie Brown to ask what he sees. Charlie Brown answers, I was going to say a bunny, but I’ve changed my mind. I see a T-Rex, but I get the praying mantis. No psych evaluation needed.

      Interesting that you don’t see the praying mantis until the star is removed. Perhaps I will add a tiny star. So many possibilities. So little time.

    1. Thank you, Nancy for sharing your thoughts. Of course the difference between critique and criticism is loosely defined by me. But I think it captures the nuance of the two. What I appreciate about a good critique is it provides options and insight for moving forward. Criticism stops you in your tracks. I love your comment that you feel the need to pet the kitty. Makes me feel my mission is accomplished. 🙂

  4. That large star drew my eye as soon as I saw it and it jars – it just stands out too much, doesn’t blend. However without the star my eye happily wanders all round – and really loves what it sees by the way – and those smaller stars seem to blend in quite happily. xx

    1. Excellent analysis, Lin. Thank you. My initial thought was to vary scale and style of the stars. Great theory, but not so successful in practice. I shall bare your thoughts in mind.

  5. In my mind, any GREEN sewing counted for this month’s Rainbow Scrap Challenge! The scale and positioning of that large star block felt somewhat out of place on your In the Beginning quilt. I think you’ve hit of a good solution for fixing the problem. Another solution might be to fit the star into his outstretched hand, but that could feel equally as “off” as the original positioning. Best of luck with reworking it!

    1. I laughed at the opening of your comment. You said what we quilters we believe, rules are guidelines and to be interpreted liberally.

      In fact I did think about the possibility of positioning a star in the extended hand/pillar. I would need to scale it down so it doesn’t dwarf what it is resting on.

      Thank you for your sharing your ideas.

  6. Some pieces of art have universal appeal. Most will appeal to some and not to others. What looks like a focal point to me may stick out like a sore thumb to someone else. The big star could be a focus or a sore thumb. In my opinion, critique is positive, looking to help/improve whereas criticism is just bitchiness.
    I do agree with Joy about the use of green in March for RSC. I usually struggle with yellow. While all others colors work well with a light/white background, yellow pales into the background (pun intended). So, last year, instead of making yellow blocks, I made a small yellow (and royal blue) quilt honoring Ukraine and her fierce leader Zelenskyy.

    1. Preeti, I have noticed other in the RSC expanding the rules. I love your way of incorporating yellow during the yellow month. A great solution.

      Yes, critique does have a positive, supportive and helpful spin, while criticism can come across as disabling and hurtful.

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