The Critical Eye is a convenient catch word for a lot of stuff. Usually it means that you can't see your own mistakes (you have no critical eye), or, you always see your own mistakes magnified (now your critical eye is mal-functioning). Some of us fall into the habit of not looking at our own work, not until it's time to clean out the studio, at which time we are either amazed or embarrassed, depending upon our mood or the weather or our belief that we have no real functioning critical eye.
I speak of these things through personal experience. It is often compounded by the fact that I really enjoy the act of painting. Sometimes I continue working on a canvas well past it's freshness. I put it down to the side benefits such continued relaxation does for my over all health, to the need to not waste the paint on my palette, to the subversive idea that I have no idea for the next painting so just continue to work on this one.
Sometimes it is because what I see in real paint does not match the conceptual idea in my inspiration. And, being more of a Conceptual Experimenter, I will attempt to discover what it is that isn't working through a kind of leap of faith perspective. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. But every time, looking at the before and after photos of this process, there is something valuable to be learned for the next work.
To the left (above) is a Before image of The Elephant Vase. I recall that my issue was paint quality (which means sloppy brush marks) and edges (the one leaf in particular on the right side).
Next is the After image. Somehow in the process of fixing paint quality and edges, I changed the color harmony and the shape of the vase. And my efforts to soften edges actually reduced the contrast and visual interest, especially in the leaves.
Both versions have merit, both have flaws, each expresses a different mood that teaches a lot about what really matters - it isn't what you paint, but how you paint it.
You have heard this before. You think you understand it a little bit better with each incarnation of your painting until the Critical Eye reminds you there is still something off. Something not right here.
And you go back to the easel and try to fix it.
But what you are really fixing is you. You are deepening your understanding. Feeling more comfortable with the way you handle the materials. Settle in with a point of view and learn how to express it.
Because what you paint remains the same.
It's how you paint it that changes.