This is a blog post about some recent experiences I have had receiving feedback from other artists about my work. In one case the feedback was negative and criticized me and my paintings, the other was overwhelmingly positive.
In both cases the feedback was unsolicited by me, although in the first case I had asked the artist a question about his experience in the art world, I did not, however, ask him to critique my work.
I did not know the first artist.
The second artist is someone I have known for about 6 years. I trust her and respect her as an artist and a person.
In the first case, the artist’s comments seemed inconsistent and I wondered if he even looked at my work before providing his unsolicited feedback.
In the second case, the artist congratulated me on the evolution of my art and complemented the professionalism of my work (her word, not mine).
Not everyone likes my work, and that’s fine, there’s lots of art that I don’t like too; I am not offended by people who don’t like my work. I am often curious about why and will often engage in a conversation about my art and what it is that they don’t like about it. Often it is too energetic or colourful or they want to “see” something in it, or they just don’t like abstract art—it’s not my paintings in particular, it’s a whole style of painting. And that’s okay, they’re allowed to like or not like things, that’s what makes this world a wonderful place: the diversity of thought and likes and dislikes.
I do think it’s important to keep an open mind when looking at other people’s artwork. If they are sharing it either publicly or privately, it is clearly something that is important to them, something they are passionate about, it is a story that they feel compelled to share in whatever way they are able to. I think you should show and interest in that, out of respect for the other person and their journey, and because you might learn something that informs your own thoughts and experiences (and creative practice, if you have one).
My paintings tell a story of personal growth and development, and have become more confident and complex as I have continued with my practice. To me they illustrate the complexity of life. Where they started out simply as an expression of joyful chaos, they now combine that joy and chaos with heartbreak and loss. Such is the nature of life.
Either that speaks to you or it doesn’t. In the case of the first artist, I would suggest that it didn’t, in the case of the second artist I would suggest that it did. Neither is right or wrong, that’s just the way it is, given their own individual life experiences.
Am I going to stop painting because someone doesn’t like my painting? No. I paint because I find it to be the best way to express things that I can’t put into words. I paint because I have to. I have stories to tell, that can only be told through my paintings.
I paint, therefore I am.