Taking Criticism of Your Art
I think it is important to be critical of oneself: Especially as a designer, but also as an artist. I think one of the major differences between design and fine art is the fact that design is not personal and it should always be created to fit a specific audience and/or purpose, whereas fine art is very much a form of self expression and doesn’t rely much on the opinions of others (neither is is typically created with an end-goal or use in mind, outside of the artist’s own vision).
I am used to working as a designer and having my ideas shot-down, criticized or even completely rejected. This is all part of making a good design, and I don’t take it personally (neither should any designer). As a designer, you can’t become personally connected to what you create, because what you create should always go outside of your own personal realm of experience to reach a broader or different audience. The end goal of a good design is to market something. However, as an artist, I believe the opposite is true.
When I create art, it comes from my own mind, heart and soul. It is extremely personal and is also extremely focused. It doesn’t deviate from my own vision because it is a part of me being put down on paper or canvas. It’s not designed to appeal to everyone, in fact, it may not appeal to anyone but myself… which leads me to the point of this very intimate blog post.
I posted a finished painting online tonight. I usually share my artwork on my Facebook page, personal profile, Instagram and this website. I also sometimes share pieces in Facebook art groups. It’s risky putting your work out there when you know it is going to be difficult to take critiques, but I think it’s important to do so. I want to see my work for what it really is (which may or may not match my own personal ideas about who I am as an artist, or how good I am as an artist). So, I posted my painting of the cabin publicly.
I did receive overwhelming support from most people. It’s hard to say who was just being nice and who was being sincere, but I feel like I can be realistic about my own style and skill level. It’s not for everyone, and it’s not perfect realism by any stretch. I work somewhere between a loose, impressionistic style and a very detailed realistic style, and I’m always focused on fantasy subject matter that may or may not be drawn from real references. Sometimes what comes out of my mind isn’t as real as what I could potentially copy from a photograph… But, regardless, I received some fairly harsh criticism about the cabin from another artist online tonight.
My initial reaction was a deep and sudden pang of disappointment and sadness. Is my work really that bad that it forced someone to reach out and message me about it? I was told my drawing skills are poor and I should be more precise. I don’t generally tend toward precision and it’s usually a very deliberate move on my part because I like a more organic, rustic painting with imperfection and texture, but for a brief moment, I questioned myself completely. So I asked, “Are you an artist?” He replied that he in fact was, and sent me a link to his Facebook page.
In this moment, I had the opportunity to either choose to be critical myself, or to handle the situation gracefully. I told him his work was wonderful and I gave his page a like. Then I moved on.
Perhaps he was right, and I need to pay more attention to my drawings. Or, perhaps he wasn’t really qualified to be giving critiques to other artists at all, but I’ll keep what he had to say in the back of my mind in the future, while I also remind myself that art is a personal and moving sort of thing. Some people will love it, and others may hate it – that’s part of life. Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder, but, on the other hand, I can always, strive to do better, and I need to continue on my creative path regardless of these little bumps in the road.
Again, Rebecca, this is a deeper work than a few artists or casual internet observers might be capable of “investing” in… Informed by your intense fantasy works, you’ve brought an otherworldly-ness to this “moment in time” piece, making it magical, for those who know how to observe that. On an entirely different level, it succeeds so well as an accompaniment to a written work, gracing the cover — it’s always the first thing that a perspective reader fixated on, besides the author and title, and so important for gaining readership. I love this piece, and I’m capable of seeing it for everything that it is. I do believe that some might exercise too much freedom in their criticisms in forums that are not set up for that purpose; Lowbrow has an awesome camaraderie and a certain vibe of artists showing new works to other artists, not necessarily begging for acceptance, but not really looking for intensive personalized criticism either. So looking forward to your next, and your next…
Once again, your fantastic way with words has made me feel like a million bucks! Thank you so much for your comments Roger. I will definitely take them to heart!