The Dreaded Criticism
One of my friends is the most honest person I know. He says what he likes and what he doesn’t. When I first started drawing, he loved my work because it was realistic and neat. Now that I’m getting a bit ‘wild’ with my lines and colours, he doesn’t like it and tells me so.
My mum loves the landscapes I was doing a year ago, but doesn’t get my cow portraits at all. (She thinks cows are for eating and that’s that!) Ditto for my best friend, who is a creative writer, but not much into the visual arts.
But then there are strangers, people who found me on my website or via Twitter and Facebook, who send me admiring emails or – even better – buy my prints or original paintings. Their comments move me deeply, because I have never, until this last year, felt that I had anything to offer the world artistically, and now my pictures hang in homes in Texas and Lincolnshire and Munich and Connecticut and Toronto and Yorkshire. Amazing!
All this has been a good lesson for me – the idea that everyone should love your art is NUTS! If it’s any good, if it speaks from the heart, if it says something, some people WON’T like it. But some will.
In the end, what matters is that you added something. Out of nothing, you made something. Or as Ricky Gervais says:
And that’s the thing isn’t it? It’s the creation that matters. If some people don’t like what you created, well at least they reacted.
And reacted is the operative word. They’re reacting. You’re DOING!
NEVER let someone tell you that what you’re ‘doing’ isn’t worthwhile. Never let someone belittle your effort. Because it’s easy to sit on the sofa, watch TV, and every once in a while look up to criticise.
The harder route – and the more honourable one – is to do something, to take risks, to create. And then – the most important part – to share that creation with others. And that’s when we’re at our most vulnerable as artists …. when we show ourselves and wait for the reaction. But we diminish the role of art if we sit back and wait only for positive comments. Real art, true art, art that comes from the heart, challenges.
It will never solicit only positive reactions. It will always be slightly controversial. It will always frighten some folks, and confuse some folks and delight some folks.
That’s what makes it art.
So if you create anything – woodwork, paintings, sketches, sculptures, gardens or cakes – the next time someone disparages your work, or even just looks a little bit nonplussed, know that you’ve accomplished what art is all about. You’ve made a dint, however tiny, in the fabric of the universe and that is a beautiful thing.