Criticism, the Best Learning Experience I've Ever Known
Artists can become blinded by their own sense of accomplishment and tend to recreate the same image and the same mistakes over and over again. Another drawback in this point in the creative career is that we tend to feel we're better or further along than we are. I had the good fortune about twenty years ago to meet with a very talented professional artist and teacher as well as a gallery owner. My first expectation at the time was that they couldn't get over how amazing of an artist I was and that they just had to have me in their gallery at any price I wanted. Of course, this was not the case, luckily for my beginning career as an artist-I learned humility and much about what makes descent art much better.
I learned that what I knew about perspective and depth was lacking and learned to think about depth, color, light, value-Immediately I learned what I might be doing right and what I needed to do better.
So many of the bad habits I had picked up and the lack of being able to be objective enough to truelly see what I was creating opened a whole new scope of ideas and a wealth of knowledge I had just started to process.
Unfortunately my first feeling of painting was awkward at best. I started out questioning every movement I made, I had a hard time going into a subconscious state of creating because the things I had learned were not second nature yet and I was thinking and processing every lesson I had learned. I found myself pushing paint-a term I use for what seems like painting a strangers painting. I saw the process and instead of being able to paint fluidly and without thinking, every stroke I made was awkward and clumsy. I had several failed series of works, many that never saw the light of day.
Over the years I had come to the point where the new lessons I had learned became second nature and I no longer had to think of how to create in varying shapes to create interest or to change values or colors to illustrate depth, everything became second nature to me again but instead of going back to painting the way I had been, I had a new way of seeing my own work and a greater arsenal of tools to use in my painting and I learned to use them with the instinct of an artist that had grown from the criticism and objectivity of the lessons I learned from other artists and art lovers.
I welcome criticism, I want to know what hits and what doesn't, I know it is a subjective process and one persons' art is anothers' garbage but I believe the more we can step back and really see what our art does to the viewer and learn other ways of judging our own work, we open a door to an amazing insight into what makes us artists and what makes great art.
QUESTION: What was the greatest lesson you learned through a viewers opinion or the criticism of artists or art lovers that were critical of your art? How did it change you as an artist? How did it change your art?