This has so much heart and vulnerability and shiz, thanks for sharing Scarlet!
My family has always been supportive of my art and I didn't get much in the form of critique outside of I like it or I don't outside of my ain't who would occasionally ask me why something I drew looks the way it did which would make me think a bit, but usually didn't go to deep as she would then say something like "Did you really have to draw ALL the wrinkles." lol.
I didn't start entering the realm of critique till highschool, but even then most of the words said about my work were flattery save from my art teacher who gave wonderful direction and flattery haha, but stayed within the confines of where the class as a whole generally was during scheduled times, but would go more in-depth with me after hours and I will always appreciate her for that. Even when she was helping me to improve I never felt like she was making me feel like garbage, or how I was drawing/coloring was wrong, but considering I was her fav, it would have been hard for me to think that.
College though... WHHOOO CHILE. I majored in studio art and minored in graphic design since the college I choose for a well-rounded education didn't offer anything in the sequential art fields. You wanna talk about a polarizing experience, yooooo. Being up in painting II rendering my heavily illustrated style with thick line art in front of a classically trained artist and then going to Graphic Design II just had my head split in so many ways.
In the studio, I would have critique on any life study sketches saying they looked too heavy-handed thanks to my thick usage of contour on my subjects, and then go to Design Class and get commended for my bold use of line work to illustrate my purpose. Then back to the studio to paint or add color and the professor would go ham bc my pieces looked to unnatural and the way I rendered lighting was too surreal. I mean I knew my glass bottles didn't look like the glass bottles on the table, but when I ran it through my brain filter and then hand, my shiz always came out trippyer looking then what was right in front of me. Then I'd go to design class and pull out my tablet to color in photoshop (very simply I might add bc I was just learning digital coloring.) And being held as brilliant.
For a while I tried to adjust to go with more natural looking renderings in Studio, but then I'd run into a contrast problem between form and background and everything just looked dull. Once we started doing round table critiques in Studio, It was interesting to hear what other artist in class thought of my work vs the professor who was genuinely surprised to find that most folks preferred how I colored before trying to change despite it not looking much like a faithful rendition.
I overall enjoyed the Studio (and design, though it was a lot of self-taught learning since the professor didn't know exactly how to give me what I was looking for but looked into ways to help. She provided the space for me to try and figure it out with lots of resources. ) once I and the professor came to an understanding of what I wanted to do with my art (even if they didn't see it as art).
I didn't get what I wanted out of Studio Art since I assumed an art professor would just instinctively know how to guide me over realizing that disciplines and experience also matter when seeking fine-tuned critique. It wasn't their fault bc I majored in traditional art despite not wanting to be a traditional artist. I was just ignorant of the differences. I still learned a valuable lesson about making assumptions based on fields of study that seem close.
College is where I learned that art and design are not the same and illustration exists in a middle ground that benefits from both (but like don't tell the studio art folks that you want to combine your senior show to be an exhibit of how you combined both hahah).
All this to say, a critique can be mega helpful or mega hurtful if the context isn't in the right place. Asking a studio artist to critique me got me vastly different results than when I asked a graphic designer. Both had valid things to say, but one made more sense to me than the other, but It wasn't until I started hanging out with other comic artists/enthusiasts at or above my level of knowledge and expertise did I started getting the kind of feedback that's helpful to what I'm trying to do.
Context and having an open dialogue with someone whose skill/knowledge you trust is the gold star for getting helpful advice and instruction. Otherwise, you can get expert knowledge that doesn't apply and only serves to confuse/stifle you. Or worse. intense criticism that does nothing but makes you feel like you're doing everything wrong because they don't understand anything about comics :V.