Just solid advice
We have all these fancy words in the art world! Words like plein aire and nocturne and critiques. Pretty funny really. Getting a critique is simply getting some solid advice, hopefully from someone who is knowledgeable, straightforward and KIND!
To me, the most important part of a critique is to be encouraged to forge ahead. It doesn't do much good to get a critique that is so deflating that we just plain give up. So while we want honest, helpful advice, it needs to be delivered in such a way that we won't be so heartbroken that we can't even hear the advice because we're so busy being crushed!
I'm very sensitive to this and I try to strike the positive balance. I really recommend that if you are seeking advice, that you be quite discriminating about who you ask. Sometimes, even a well-meaning spouse can drive a knife right throught the heart with something like,"I really liked those other pieces you were doing last month". Critique groups are another realm to be cautious in. Depending on the group, it can be the blind leading the blind. Make sure that you are in a group with predominately better painters than yourself! Surround yourself by painters with more experience who are willing to share their knowledge. Comments such as, "It's just not working for me, but I don't know why", are not very productive.