Watercolour Abstract created by pigment interaction
There are times when you wonder whether to share your experiences or stay quiet. This is one of those times but I hope by being open I can help any artists who are going through feelings of self doubt which we all do from time to time on our art journeys.
On my workshops I often meet artists of all levels and I am delighted to meet professionals who are coming to me for a complete change of direction in their chosen careers. I also meet the less established artists who are finding their way. I rarely come across artists who have had their souls badly destroyed by critics of their work but when I do I feel completely at a loss for words.
Firstly the joy of creating should never be denied to anyone who wishes to hold a brush. If an artist has dreams of reaching goals then positive encouragement with complete honesty is healthy. If anyone isn't ready for exhibiting or belonging to a society again open feedback can really help.
But when anyone is "kicked" so low that they cannot get back up again because of unecessarily harsh words I have to look at the reasoning behind the art critics.
I met a gorgeous personality on one of my workshops last week, who shone in personality but it became evident something was wrong right at the very beginning of the session. Gradually a pattern emerged where it was evident they had been receiving very hard feedback on their work. So much so that they were worried about every single brushstroke they made that day. Until the end of the day drew near when I quietly gave a very simple exercise to them , to see what would happen if I did.
I made a wise decision because in that time the artist produced the most wonderful of watercolour studies. It was full of vibrant ,clean colour. It was unique in their own style, brilliant in technique and gave an insight into what they were capable of.
In short, they had talent.
Talent that had been squashed beyond all recognition by those who felt they had the right to destroy what little confidence the artist possessed.
Later I felt what can only be described as anger.
So this morning when I was invited to join a Watercolour Critique group I appreciated the invitation but declined the offer. I have so little free time to become involved in new groups at the moment as I am already turning so many invitations down which could be a draw on my studio time.
To offer critique I believe you need to be an expert in your field, understand the artists goal who you are offering advise to and be open enough to recognise talent when you see it. I also believe you need to be able to handle giving an honest opinion when asked and this isn't always an easy thing to do.
I give feedback on my workshops consistently and when asked, quietly by email I will also give my advise behind the scenes.
There is a big difference in being knowledgable and knowing how to pass on that knowledge or possessing arrogance in believing you are "the expert" who is in the best position to know all there is about the art world.
I confess I do not.
But sadly I know many artists who feel they do.
Often, they are mistaken!
Please only take on board advise from artists whose work you admire and take all criticism in a way that will help you grow. Learn from your mistakes and even more importantly learn from the mistakes of others. Not just in their art, but how they behave as artists.
And remember, there will always be far better artists than you or I in the world,and they inspire us to continually grow and stretch ourselves to achieve.
If they didn't exist what would we be reaching for ?