Today I decided to step aside from painting techniques and talk about criticism. Did it make you feel heaviness in your stomach, the word criticism? Why? What is criticism? Why is it so influential and scary?
Here is a very simple definition of criticism: it is a judgment of something’s or someone’s qualities and flaws. Criticism usually takes a form of harshness, but sometimes can be quite friendly and even humoristic. There is something else you should know – constructive criticism is well built, it outlines both positive and negative points. It also includes suggestions for further improvement, and, therefore, could be very valuable.
Criticism is not to be confused with rude opinion, which is non-constructive and negative word dashing.
I do appreciate constructive criticism. It can be very rough at times, but, if you manage to overlook the bitterness and pick out the important points, criticism can be extremely beneficial to your practice. On the other hand, let us not confuse constructive criticism with disrespectful comment or plain rude opinion. The last two are self-explanatory and can affect someone’s path in a very powerful way.
Please don’t attach yourself to rude comments, let them through and move on.
When I decided to share my art (with public), I was very worried about being criticized and sometimes so much, that it would affect my inspiration and imagination guides. I had to stop and smell the roses. I had to think of what my work represented to ME instead of worrying about what it meant to others. Everyone is unique and will always have an opinion.
When I painted “Her Extravaganza” I got so many wonderful comments about this painting. I was somewhat surprised, because this piece is not ordinary and not for everyone. Well, one day that “not for everyone” found me, and “Her Extravaganza” was hit with “bloody awful” comment. When I read it I could feel my heart climbing into my throat. The feeling was so overwhelming that it locked out my inspiration and imagination guides for a few days. I could not paint. Then I thought about what happened and why it affected me so much. Was my art criticized? Was I?
More I thought about the comment, it became clearer to me, that the feedback was no more than a rude remark. It was not an opinion or criticism as it had no construction, perspective, no points, no facts, no ideas or suggestions. I could gain absolutely nothing out of this information. That’s when I decided not to bother with it any longer. What a load off my shoulders that was. I learnt something new – I learnt not to pay attention to non-valuable comments.
Going public with your Art creations does have pros and cons. Cons sometimes can be very helpful or very hurtful. My advice is to learn how to define strength in every con and discard the rest of information into the invisible garbage can. Do not attach yourself to somebody’s statement, it is not personal.
There are so many kinds of art. Who is to say what’s right and what’s wrong? How can anyone possibly see what you show without knowing you, your feelings, and your views? Do you remember Vincent van Gogh – essentially self-thought, post-impressionist artist? In 10 years he painted over 900 paintings. Can you imagine? He did not sell any of the paintings during his life time and faced constant society disapproval. His painting techniques were appreciated just by a few, and were considered childish by the most.
Nowadays, society admires Vincent van Gough’s colour and technique break through. His works are preserved in museums and some have been sold for substantial amount of money. Did disapproval affect van Gough’s emotional world? I am positive it did, but he never stopped doing what he loved the most. He continued expressing, painting, repainting, discovering new techniques and colour hidden abilities. He said that painting calmed him, made him feel normal and at happiest.
In conclusion, when you become brave enough to get out of your shell and face the “out there world”, remember to do what makes YOU happy. There are no obligations in the process, no musts. Please don’t allow criticism, rude comments and foolish opinions to discourage you. Pay attention to what is being said, pick out the valuable points and make them your strength, ditch the rest and move on.
Remind yourself every day what art means to YOU! Most importantly – HAVE FUN!