Gabriel Cornelius Ritter von Max (1840-1915),
who actually lived with a family of monkeys
Over on YouTube, Natasha asks:
"Because of all your videos, it has inspired me to want to go out and quit being afraid of what others think or say about my paintings. Yet I think we artists may be our biggest critics of all. How were you able to overcome any fears of hearing what bad things other people have to say?"
Natasha, You're right that we're usually our own toughest critic. That can be a good thing. It's helpful to hold ourselves to a high standard, always asking 'How can I make this better?' That self criticism is what keeps us improving, hopefully. The other extreme, overconfidence— being overly satisfied with everything we do—can be as big a problem as being self-critical, and it makes a student unteachable.
At the same time, don't be so hard on yourself that you avoid taking risks. We all need to take satisfaction in our successes and in our experimental attempts, even if they don't work out the way we had hoped. You don't have to show anyone your duds. Paint over them or put them on the Gallery Flambeau.
So should we shut off our inner critic? OK, temporarily if that helps you get into the flow. But keep your critic nearby. You'll need that voice to guide the flow in the right direction.
|Painting on an Amish farm in Ohio|
If a piece isn't going the way you had hoped, ask for the private opinions of a few people you trust and give them permission to say what's not working about your piece. Be ready for honesty, and thank them for it. People are usually unwilling to offer constructive criticism unless you ask for it, especially on social media.
Try new things. Don't let fear of criticism cause you to hold back and play it safe. You don't want to keep doing the same thing over and over again just because you know it will work and you'll get approval for it.
As far as strangers who walk by and make remarks when you're painting outside, don't worry at all! That's part of the sport. People say all kinds of nutty things, and just about every picture goes through stages of looking awful. But once in a while, you'll get a critical comment from a passerby that will really help you see you see your work in a new way. Keep your antenna tuned for that.
Previous Posts about Criticism and Confidence
Top ten ways to deal with curious spectators
How Rockwell turned a detractor into a defender
Gerome and his Critics (57 comments)
OKGo Answers its critics
iOS app GurneyJourney Blog