Everybody’s a Critic

Mary Liz Ingram —  March 9, 2013 — 2 Comments
My kind and ever-patient art critic

My kind and ever-patient art critic

It’s the moment when your artist’s angst is at its peak. Your anxiety and self-doubt threatens to swallow you whole as you contemplate your progress, your vision, your work-in-progress. You turn and address your spouse: “Woe is me! I am but a worm in the world of art! This eye is not right! This brush stroke out of place!” The profuse encouraging support fails to reinflate your confidence. You know something is artistically awry and such flattery falls on deaf ears. You ask for serious improvement suggestions. Bad idea.

It’s the moment when you soar in self-satisfaction over your seemingly greatest achievement. Your triumph is palpable as you gaze lovingly at your finished product. Eyes misty and senses blurred, you see only an image of perfection. Then you look more closely. And you see a flaw. Then another. You turn and address your loved-one: “I thought it was perfect! But, alas, I see flaw after flaw after flaw! How can I remedy this calamity?!” You’ve asked for a critique of your art-baby. You’ve opened yourself up to criticism. From a much loved, highly involved relation-of-sorts. Bad idea.

Whether in highs or lows, we are all – not just artists! – so very sensitive to criticism. I know when, in my own personal melodrama, I’ve asked for my husband’s honest and open and I-promise-not-to-get-upset opinion, it is a farce: I will get upset. It’s like asking if you look fat in a dress. No answer is acceptable.

True, true…art is free and open and without rules. As artists we can paint or draw or sculpt or carve however we want, whatever we want, and who’s to say if it is good or bad, right or wrong, perfect or imperfect. But, still…some things are better than others, and most things can be improved.

So, our lesson for today is this:

Don’t be so hard on our invited critics.

Or else don’t ask if the metaphorical dress makes you look fat.

My poor husband…how does he put up with having an artist for a wife!

Mary Liz Ingram


2 responses to Everybody’s a Critic

  1. Learning how to face and accept criticism is one of the major lessons I’ve learned in the little time I spent in art school. The main thing to keep in mind is that no matter how great or not so great your work is, there are always going to be people who love it and people who hate it. You just have to connect with those who love it and respect the opinions of the people who hate it.(The latter usually has some good suggestions that will improve your skills even if you don’t agree with their opinions).

    • Mary Liz Ingram March 9, 2013 at 9:46 am

      I couldn’t agree more! Once you find value in your own art, and realize there are others who feel the same, the negative comments aren’t as painful. I learned that lesson during art festivals, with people praising and grimacing in turn. We all have something unique to offer to this wonderful diverse world!

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