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monticore
09-26-2008, 12:20 AM
I feel compeled to write this because for so long I've been held back and stifled by a certain someone who's lofty expectations could not possibly be met. I am hoping that some of you can relate and be able to make some change for the better.Through the years I would produce artwork and struggle wondering if this would be the one that would finally please the above very finnicky critic who would find a multitide of wrong things in my artwork and up to a short time ago bash my pastel work into oblivion with insults peppered of course with some half truths .I lived with a dread of feeling inadequate and unworthy to even own so many beautiful pastels.I mean let me tell you this person made me tear up my artwork in frustration on many occasions and the ones that survived never saw the light of day.Finally one day I got so sick of the abuse I decided to have it out once and for all with this guy.After working on an imaginary landscape the person in question barked the usual stuff " lack of color,boring composition,etc." With that I stoodup and said "wait a minute, all my life I've been able to view other artwork by non proffessionals and find good things in there, I've known you forever and you have never found anything good in my work i'm done with you get out".Well that was a few months ago and now my artworks are being framed and I am beginning to learn more about the craft and frankly i'm liking what I do.If anyone is wondering and i'm sure by now some have guessed that negative unpleasable person was myself.Whats my point.Throughout our art journey its important to find a way to like ourselves so we can grow and see where weve been and where we are heading,not hide our art away until we finally pop out masterpieces.I'm starting to embrace what I do and not shun it and become angered by it.It took me many years to realize this.When I look at anyones work i am automaticlly pleased, even if it's not technically brilliant or otherwise appealing because I believe there is some kind of magic when someone takes the time to do something so personal and let us in.I guess i'm saying some of us need to like ourselves more,enjoy and grow.Sorry if this sounds like a crazy post but I wanted to share the changes that are occurring with myself and get other opinions. Joe.

PeggyB
09-26-2008, 02:29 AM
Congratulations Joe! You are the winner in the contest of wills. :clap:
I think most artists have at one time or another been exactly where you have been. Some even return to that dark place from time to time only to scratch their way to the light once again. I'm not talking about only non-professionals in this regard. I know professionals who have plenty of self doubts even when they've achieved peer acclaim and public acceptance (I won't name them here though). I believe self doubt is part of self awareness, and working through the doubt is part of self satisfaction & growth.

Paint more, worry about what you are producing less, and enjoy your new found freedom from self criticism. :)

Peggy

WC Lee
09-26-2008, 03:44 AM
I agree with Peggy that a lot of professionals and non-professionals have self-doubts and occasionally return to that dark place, however, before casting your negative side into oblivion, it is important to have the side of us that see the flaws as well as the side that sees the good, it is that negative side that spurs us to improve. But it is the positive side is what keeps us going at it to produce that masterpiece :)

Colorix
09-26-2008, 06:08 AM
Thank you, Monticore. I know my version of that 'person' very well indeed... Many years ago, I started to *talk back*! And then I *evicted* that voice, which had for way too long had free room and boarding inside my skull. Funny thing, I discovered, the Voice was actually an Autopilot with a faulty setting. It never varied, it never surprised, just playing the same old vinyl record with a scratch over and over again. There was no substance in it -- not one iota.

I still strive for excellence, because that is where I *want* to go, and what is really enjoyable in the work of masters.

Often still am my hardest critic, *but*, a real live breathing critic also praises, it is not just a negative automaton.

And am embracing that *this* is the level I'm at now, and I am doing my best, and that is good enough. For now. And someday, I *will* be able to paint what I see in my mind, with excellence.

Charlie

Lisa Fiore
09-26-2008, 08:44 AM
This was a great post, Monticore, thank you!! I struggle with the same thing--I know how I WANT my paintings to look and become frustrated when they don't match the image in my brain. I've been trying lately to look at each painting as a "learning experience" and not be so critical of my (lack of) abilities, but it is difficult. Thank you, again, for starting this thread!! I think many can relate and learn from it.:)

Donna T
09-26-2008, 09:26 AM
Thanks, Joe! Your words and those of the others here are just what I need to hear. I'm not sure if this is what "art therapy" means but it works for me!

Donna

ElsieH
09-26-2008, 10:09 AM
:wave:
Thanks, Joe,
This is that small yapping voice that will not take the risks needed to advance. The "Inner Critic", as Julia Camron in her "Artist Way" books, calls it, is a tricky fellow. It is not in the business of giving compliments, it just
has the job of making sure you "stay in your blocked place." No risks, no feeling good about yourself, just pick, pick, pick at every nit it can find.
If you do improve on one point it has put forth, is just waves another flag and goes on to harp on that!
Recognizing this negative beast is the first step to putting him/her in his/her place! That place it OUT!
My IC has a habit of raising his ugly head just as I get to the point in my painting where, if I go on, I'll actually finish the thing, I'll actually be successful. That is just way too risky for the IC! It does its little tantrum, its yelling fit! "See, see, what did I tell you? Terrible color, it will be a muddy mess! You are hopeless!" It runs through every criteria checklist out there to prove I'm not a successful artist! Then it yells its worst: "You'll just give up, you never finish, you'll....."
Yep, been there, heard that! Show the bum the door! Out! Out! Out, d**** Critic!:clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

Actually, I've figured out a big secret of this little monster: He/she comes on strongest when I have actually made a step forward! I know to look at my latest painting and find a few progress points and they are always there! :heart:

Ok, now, I'll let my religious side show:
The "Great Creator", "Great Artist", is my power-source that I plug into when this little devil starts yelling! How dare he/she speak that way about art that has been created through me!
It may seem that I lack "standards" and want to back out of working up to those standards. But, I do my very best, based on what I am learning about my art. But, the deal is this! Deal = covenant.
I will show up and do the work!
I will provide the quantity.
God will provide the quality!

This is not a situation where I'm expecting to suddenly paint like DaVinci, but for me at this time, with what I'm learning, there will be some success!
This trust gives me strength to show up and do the work!

Thanks Joe, for reminding us all to boot this little monster right out the door!:thumbsup:

Deborah Secor
09-26-2008, 10:09 AM
It's often so much easier to see what's wrong in our artwork than what's right or pleasing to us. We're our own harshest critic most of the time. Self-critique can play a vital role in pursuit of growth in any discipline, but when that discipline is a creative expression we're so vulnerable. I think as artists we need to acknowledge that the journey is more than just a lot of hard work. We need to learn to enjoy the parts that succeed, the little victories that we achieve, and not bleed over the parts that need to improve. It's in the pursuit of the goal that we grow, not the victory, so when that harsh self-critical voice sees nothing of value the growth is stifled, just as much as if we see every stroke as that of a genius! We grow through struggles. No butterfly ever flew until he wriggled out of that cocoon. Free him from that struggle and his wings will be too weak to fly. Give him a glimpse of the beauty to come and the struggle is understood as being worth going through.

I find that as a teacher a good part of my job is to encourage people and point them to the beauty that's being expressed in their artwork, as well as helping them see where and how to improve things. Some struggles are more delicate, others are bolder, while yet others seem to struggle and stop before going on. All are respectable and worthy struggles, however. And yes, 'even' the pros struggle. If they aren't, they're not growing!

Good topic, Joe--thanks!

Deborah

Studio-1-F
09-26-2008, 11:08 AM
. . . . If anyone is wondering and i'm sure by now some have guessed that negative unpleasable person was myself. . .
B-R-A-V-O, Joe! Bravo to you! It's so easy to say 'just do it' but so very hard to silence that most insidious and most ruthless and most brutal of critics. Thanks for sharing your story and thanks for succeeding and being an inspiration to us all.

Love, Jan

(PS - Look at the book Art and Fear, by Bayles and Orland (http://books.google.com/books?id=SFQjn0OrNPIC&q=art+and+fear&dq=art+and+fear&pgis=1). Short, sweet, and a big help. For me.)

Colorix
09-26-2008, 11:34 AM
.... just pick, pick, pick at every nit it can find.
If you do improve on one point it has put forth, is just waves another flag and goes on to harp on that!

Elsie expressed it so well, in the above quote, thanks Elise!
That inner critic is a bone fide Narcissist! Nothing is ever good enough for it -- in fact, it gets *mad* if anything actually is excellent = better than it -- and it has no end of things to harp about, because nothing is ever *perfect*, so it 'wins' all the time by putting us down. So, what if that small miracle happens, and a painting suddenly is way better than what we usually do, what does the IC say then? "Took you too long to do it", probably, or "the frame is awful", or "are you really going to use *that* mat with that painting?".


And another gem from Elsie, which I hereby borrow and adopt:


I will show up and do the work!
I will provide the quantity.
God will provide the quality!

scall0way
09-26-2008, 01:24 PM
When I look at anyones work i am automaticlly pleased, even if it's not technically brilliant or otherwise appealing because I believe there is some kind of magic when someone takes the time to do something so personal and let us in.

I love this quote, and how true it is.

scall0way
09-26-2008, 01:28 PM
I know how I WANT my paintings to look and become frustrated when they don't match the image in my brain.

Boy do I understand this one! I don't think I've *ever* done a painting which matched the image in my brain, or my initial expectations for it. Just learning that that is okay can be a big breakthrough. I still struggle with trying to evaluate my paintings for what they are, and not for what I want them to me. I have to come to grips with the idea that I'll never be Rembrandt, or I'll never even be many of the folks I see here on WC, and that's okay too.

After all, they will never be *me* either. :D :D :D

halthepainter
09-26-2008, 01:51 PM
Thank you Joe for the post.

I go through a similar process everytime I paint but on a much shorter time scale.

About half way through a painting I'm usually hating it and wonder if I should continue or just chuck it. I will fiddle and fuss and self critique and by the time I think I'm done I'm usually happy with the painting.

The real test is when I put a painting away for a couple weeks and look at the painting with fresh eyes. It is amazing the number of times my fresh eyes tell me that a painting I previously thought was great should be a throw away.

Visea versa there are paintings that I put away thinking they would probably be throwaways that on subsequent viewing, I decided were not half bad.

I can't trust my eye on work that I've just finished but it takes time for me to evaluate my work with a less emotional eye.

So don't tear up your work, just put it away for awhile and look at it with fresh eyes as if you were a customer viewing your work at an art show.

monticore
09-26-2008, 03:19 PM
It's funny but, I wondered after writing it if the topic was worthy of a thread because of my tendency to go on about things and low and behold you good people of wet canvas step in and share your experiences, expand ,flesh out,and even suggest books related to this idea.I am learning from each post and would like to thank all of you for your input.It amazes me how art can translate to life in so many different ways from harmonies to dischord,failure to success, confusion to balance etc.Some of you even touch on a religious aspect.I'd like to encourage everyone else to join in and share your experience and viewpoints because of their value to us all. This site is rare in that many different people in different levels of artistic evolution share in the same place. A thanks to all of you.Keep it comin! Joe.

SharonC
09-26-2008, 04:10 PM
What a wonderful statement!! I whole heartedly agree with everyone's comments and responses. Being Confident and accepting of yourself is a huge turning point to sharing oneself in ones art. As was said earlier we become vulnerable for criticism when we share our art with others, but being confident in ourselves makes that criticism become a tool to understanding. I, like others have been the worst critic of my work, being new to Pastels, I do not have much of a body of work to share yet, but I have been a weaver of baskets for 28 years and have not been happy with any of the baskets when I first complete them. I think that critical eye makes you work harder to improve. But, without confidence in yourself, you can drown and never learn to swim and share the unique qualities you have in your art work.
When we are children we have no cares in the world, we may go to the store with our mothers dressed in our Halloween costume in May, we grow up and would never think to dress as Superman and go shopping. Those self doubts grow as we age, we harbour inferior thoughts and so much more. At age 51 I am more confident in "me", I have worked hard to shed my feeling of inferiority, now don't think I shop in a Superman costume, we are all unique, we all have great qualities and for me Confidence and accepting myself has been a huge turning point in my creativity.

CindyW
09-26-2008, 04:26 PM
Hi Joe....your thread is SO worthy, nope, no crazy post here at all.....going on and on is not a hindrance to acceptance, it is NEEDED! The explanations into what we're doing and why we're doing it, as abstract and emotional as they are, are helpful for so many of us to read and connect with. We are not intellectual and cold machines...without all these conflicting thoughts and issues that somewhat impede or distract our creativity at times, we would bring nothing of ourselves into our art. They help shape and mold our art; and the life and vitality found in our art is distinctly our own. VERY interesting to see many different artist's renditions of the same view if you've seen examples of that in some of the wonderful threads on WC...we all see the same objects/scenes, etc., in different ways, shaped by our own life experiences. And ALL are extremely valid.

I won't hijack your thread as my issue is not with negative thinking about my work, I guess I had a talk with MY critic awhile back :( :crying: :mad: :wave: :thumbsup: :D :clap: ...mine is that I am hung up on using my free time wisely in order to create in the first place. Here I am, writing and trying to connect with fellow artists but I could be painting, but, yet, I find huge value in connecting online if in my everyday life I don't see many people in my artistic circle. Huge conflict for me.

I am VERY happy for you that you were able to silence that terribly tough and most destructive critic and I like how you stood up and made him zip his mouth!! Make sure he stays out of your inner circle of positivity and growth and experimentation, he's not ever allowed back in (unless he can temper his opinions with positive and VERY supportive words that are actually helpful in understanding EXACTLY why and with what he's not pleased with in a piece....and pepper his statements with uplifting words that give hope and spirit to carry over to the next piece). :)

knippes
09-27-2008, 08:07 PM
Wow, great thread Joe! I can't tell you how very many times in the past (from childhood on) that I have given up on my artwork because I couldn't satisfy that awful art critic. I know perfectly well that it takes lots of practice, but I couldn't stand my attempts at practicing and would give up again and again. Finally, after taking a workshop, I have begun to get the confidence to silence that nasty critic and begin to practice. And low and behold, art is actually fun. Who woulda thunk it?
-Kym

Scottyarthur
09-28-2008, 01:39 PM
Thank you for sharing your inner most thoughts with us. we all struggle at one point or another. I also am my worst critic, but am also my best fan. Between the two we strive for the best we can be and then strive to improve, everyday :)

IdahoHat
09-28-2008, 08:24 PM
Thank you, thank you, thank you ALL! How encouraging this thread has been. I particularly love the reframing by Charlie of Elsie's idea. This is why I don't feel so bad when I spend time on WetCanvas. I learn so much and gain insight and motivation. KUDOS to all of you.:clap: :clap: :clap:

robertsloan2
09-28-2008, 11:00 PM
Great thread, Joe. Thank you for posting this. It needs to be said. I do this to myself way too often, especially with my writing if not my artwork. The inner critic is destructive, and it's a voice of fear.

What helped me overcome it where art was concerned came back in the 80s from Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. In that book, the author suggested dating all your sketches and not throwing them out even if they stink. It's important, because on those days nothing's going right and it feels impossible to ever get the art in your head out onto the paper, looking back a few weeks or months or years is tangible proof that you're improving. The current stuff looks a lot better in relation to the old stuff. That helped me train myself into a better set of expectations.

Is this better than I used to do? Have I tried something that was difficult and gotten closer to getting it right? What do I need to do in order to get even closer to the type of thing I want to be able to draw?

Those questions are healthy ones. Sometimes the best answer is to draw the same thing again and try different things with successive drawings. It's possible to keep a healthy self-critique, an Inner Editor, without letting the toxic level of Inner Critic have any sayso. The difference is that the Inner Editor is going to have only useful suggestions for improvement, not impractical ones.

Sonni
09-29-2008, 12:05 AM
Man, oh, man! It's ONLY a painting. Not a car wreck.

If at first you don't succeed...you know the rest.

When in doubt, throw it out.

Little studies in the sand (dirt, paper..), make me feel happy, make me feel grand.

Some of my mantras. That's all. I don't mind being my toughest critic. I do mind not having solutions. And I can't tell you how good I feel when I tear up a painting, that, no matter what I tried, just got worse (translated: didn't meet my expectations). It's like gulping fresh air, total relief, floating--I never have to look at it again. YES! :thumbsup:

So, Joe, all that self abuse about not being good enough is baloney. I think we ALL are good enough; we just need to keep developing our ability to see, and practice more. Oh, and read Ian Roberts' Creative Authenticity. It's an easy read and helps to get the head on straight. Or, at an angle, if you prefer. ;)

monticore
09-29-2008, 05:29 PM
Hey robertsloan,I write some myself and I've found that when I strip things down to the real idea or feeling that myself or a character in a story is trying to convey it then becomes much more powerful instead of being arbitrary.Not trying to be too cerebral but , in a sense for me this stripping away of "stuff" and kinda searching for truth can translate to the rest of the arts.Its discovery just may be the elusive "prize" or goal we aspire to as pastel artists,writers,musicians etc. Thanks for your thoughts.Cindy, you mentioned the idea of coming closer to answer the "why we do what we do"and although I'm by no means a psychology buff, I do think you are right that to ignore what can blockade our forward movement can keep us stuck.Thanks for your post. Sonni I do agree that sometimes things just arent working on a painting and if I just tear it up I can be relieved to have it off my back I know I've done it many times in the past but, I've found that wasn't working for me.Why? What was I saying when I did that? This is what I was saying."Whew, that was close that was really frustrating and horrible I would never have that thing associated with me and, now its gone and who's to know it ever exsisted".A temporary clean slate and guess what,I'd do it all over again.Zero acceptance for my failure and subsequently a circle of self deceit that kept me exactly where I was.Recently I've begun to keep those paintings in view and look at them in a fresh way accepting them as mine and possibly improving them as time passes or even use them as some sort of "before" along the journey to the improved "after" paintings.Thanks for the tip on the book you mentioned sounds interesting I'll check it out.Scotty you thanked me for my innermost thoughts and I really think thats where ALL of our true beauty lies.I thank you. Joe

Sonni
09-29-2008, 09:23 PM
Sonni I do agree that sometimes things just arent working on a painting and if I just tear it up I can be relieved to have it off my back I know I've done it many times in the past but, I've found that wasn't working for me.Why? What was I saying when I did that? This is what I was saying."Whew, that was close that was really frustrating and horrible I would never have that thing associated with me and, now its gone and who's to know it ever exsisted".A temporary clean slate and guess what,I'd do it all over again.Zero acceptance for my failure and subsequently a circle of self deceit that kept me exactly where I was.Recently I've begun to keep those paintings in view and look at them in a fresh way accepting them as mine and possibly improving them as time passes or even use them as some sort of "before" along the journey to the improved "after" paintings.Thanks for the tip on the book you mentioned sounds interesting I'll check it out.
Joe

Joe,
Maybe you weren' saying or thinking or asking the right things?

Frustrating is OK. We all get frustrated. Calm down and ask why. Look for serious, honest answers.

Horrible is not OK. Ask what worked and didn't work. Then ask why.

Never have that thing associated with me is not OK. You do what you are at the time you are doing it. Ask what was it about you that you didn't like at that time and move on even if the answer doesn't rear its little head right away. In time, it will.

..Failure is only OK if it refers to not coming up with a solution(s) to a problem(s) in your painting. You didn't fail. The painting didn't fail. What failed was a solution to make the painting work.

One thing is for sure, whether or not you save "failed" paintings, pieces of them find their way into future paintings. And that's OK.

The other thing is, try not to take yourself too seriously. Your art, yes; you, no. Keep your obsessions and expectations reasonable (I said that:eek: ?)

Sonni, the dime store shrink....:D

Sonni
09-29-2008, 09:34 PM
my issue is not with negative thinking about my work, ...mine is that I am hung up on using my free time wisely in order to create in the first place. Here I am, writing and trying to connect with fellow artists but I could be painting... :)

Cindy,

Yup, yup, and yup. Huge problem here!:rolleyes:

chewie
09-29-2008, 10:01 PM
oooo, HUGE one for me too--i will think i'll just do 'this one thing' and then its bedtime (late on that too) and i think, what on earth did i DO today? anything of value? anything noticable? often times, not as much as i know is possible. tv is a huge time killer--just one sitcom and its 2 hours down the drain. just a quick check on the goats and its cleaning out a pen, doing hooves, and 4 hours are gone. sure, needed done, but not right now. i think my biggest issue isn't with the critic, its not having a time machine!

sometimes the critic gets loud tho too, and then i find it hard to even TRY to work in the studio--and i make plenty of reasons for not going near it--the laundry should be caught up, i haven't hand-scrubbed the kitchen floor lately, my saddle needs oil! any of which could certainly wait, and quite frankly would've been shoved aside if my art was running smoothly. or the phone?!!! argh, that blasted phone!!! how much easier it is to call someone and talk art, rather than shut the critic down, forget the phone, tv, laundry and internet, and do something, ANYTHING, in the way of art.

i think it hits us all at some time. and you are strong for saying it even tho unsure of our comments. this place is very much a 'soft place', tho.!! good thing!! the world is hard!!

monticore
09-29-2008, 10:52 PM
Sonni, you made my day."Keep your obsessions reasonable" now that would make a great bumper sticker.Ha.

birdhs
09-29-2008, 11:25 PM
If I listen to my own advice, then I may listening to the very person who got me in to this spot in the first place. This philosophy is based on the concept of 'a client who represents himself has a fool for a lawyer'. Any artist who has themselves for theeir only art critic may be their own worst enemy. I have produced artwork that I really thought were trite, awful, dull, childish, and had complete strangers tell me how great they were...go figure! I have also created 'masterpieces for the ages' no one gave a second glance at!,,,go figure! Thanx 4 posting, it was a breath of honest air.:clap: :clap: :clap:

Colorix
09-30-2008, 06:18 AM
Especially for Chewie, and to all people similarly 'afflicted', including myself.

It is a serious condition, a syndrome. I found the below on the net somewhere, some long time ago:


It's called the "Butfirst Syndrome."

It's like when I decide to do the laundry - I start down the hall and notice the newspaper on the table. Okay, I'm going to do the laundry - Butfirst I'm going to read the newspaper.

Then I notice the mail on the table. Okay, Iíll just put the newspaper in the recycle stack, Butfirst I'll look through that pile of mail and see if there are any bills to be paid. Now where's the checkbook?

Oops! There's the empty glass from yesterday on the coffee table. I'm going to look for that checkbook, Butfirst I need to put the glass in the sink.

I head for the kitchen, look out the window, notice my poor flowers need a drink of water. I put the glass on the sink, and darn it, thereís the remote for the TV on the kitchen counter. What's it doing here?

I'll just put it away, Butfirst I need to water those plants. Head for door and Ack! Stepped on the cat. The cat needs to be fed. Okay, I'll put that remote away and water the plants. Butfirst I need to feed the cat.

At the end of day: The laundry isn't done, the newspapers are still on the floor, the glass is still not in the sink, the bills are not paid, the checkbook is still missing, and the cat whizzed on the remote control.

AND, when I try to figure out how come nothing got done all day I'm baffled, because I KNOW I was BUSY ALL DAY!

I realize this condition is serious.... And I should get help... Butfirst I think I'll read all my email!

robertsloan2
09-30-2008, 10:58 PM
I learned my lesson a long time ago about throwing away pieces that don't work. Too many times I've gotten frustrated, instead of throwing it away just buried it and put it away, done other things, moved on, worked in that medium for a while doing other subjects -- and come back months or a year or two later to realize that there was nothing wrong with it at all except that it was unfinished.

Or that the error or problem I thought was indelibly ruinous could be fixed. I didn't realize I could lift watercolor till last year. I'm not kidding. All my watercolors had to be perfect or tolerable, or no go.

My personal opinion is one opinion. Subject has a lot to do with personal opinions. I could do a subject that was interesting at the time for some technical reason, finish it, find it trite and not like it... and then someone who loves that subject will genuinely love it. Holding my tongue on its flaws when I sell mistakes is something I've had to learn to do. Especially when it did not come out the way I wanted it to -- and the "Mistake" was exactly what the buyer or gift-receiver loves most about it.

Someone might say "I love how you loosened up in this" and my thoughts were (Blotchy and blurry and unrealistic, ugh). But I will keep my mouth shut and not rain on their parade, and very easily let go of it so I don't have to see it again. Then settle down and do something detailed and realistic for myself that's one of my own favorite subjects.

I have a dark, murky, goofy looking pastel on black velour paper that I did last Spring. It's awful. But in the past month I've considered going back and reworking it and just going much heavier on it so that I get strong jeweled tones against the black. It could look good by the time I'm done.

chewie
10-01-2008, 07:33 PM
ha charlie, sooo true!!!! i have heard something similar to this before, and was going to print it off, you know, after i read my email....LOL!! this 'story' is really funny in a way, but makes me kinda sad in another way, as i don't not like being this way! i have a horrible case of 'butfirst', maybe i was a breech baby? nah! just procrastinator in the worst way! now, how to deal with it?????

robertsloan2...i did a pastel some time ago, basicly using orange and purple. very simple, almost childish, and thought i liked it, sort of. i did this the evening before a show. i framed it and took it even tho i was unsure yet to how i felt about it. the minute the show opened, the bank owner came in and bought it!! that morning when i was hanging my paintings, a guy came in (i know him fairly well) and said well, hmm, its not very good. ????? who's right? i surely wont' tell banker guy that he's goofy for buying it!

Wrichards
10-02-2008, 01:24 PM
welcome to my world ;) no matter what I paint, my inner critic is never satisified. A few years ago, I realy had to come to terms with this and decided to create and stick with a philosophy of "a painting is NEVER done, just done enough.." and when I "finish" a painting, I have to remind myself that the work is a representation of my art at that particular point in time.

In another discussion thread started by Alicia, I commented on how I was never satisfied with my work and they where always short of my self expectations. Alicia added that I should try to enjoy the level of art Im producing at the moment. Thats very hard for me, Of course I think my work is generaly acceptable but that inner voice still nags at me asking me "why are you painting cartoons?" arg! oh well, when I "hear" that voice I just turn up the headphones and drown it out....

anyway, sorry to ramble. more coffee!!!

kennychaffin
01-07-2009, 07:07 AM
Joe, doesn't sound crazy to me at all. I was drawn to this posting due to your wonderful impressionistic response to the monthly landscape challenge. One of the most important factors in being creative is to kill the critic, to allow oneself the freedom to create, to let flow the inner muse with no restrictions. Wonderful for you and thank you for posting this, I'm sure it will be helpful to many others as well as being a reminder to those (such as myself) that might slip and forget this from time to time.

Kathryn Wilson
01-07-2009, 10:43 AM
Thanks Joe for a great topic and all the encouragement it is giving to everyone here.

Lord knows I have struggled with the same thing for years - self-doubt, no self-confidence, until I came to the conclusion ... I am human, I will fail at times, but in the end those failures will add up to a great painting somewhere along the way. Now I accept that I have artistic flaws and watch for them, battle through them, and come out the other side with a new understanding of maybe one little thing. e.g. my current thread on repetitive shapes.

I am not obssessing on them, but I sure am watching out for them and learning how to do things differently.

monticore
01-08-2009, 05:13 PM
Kenny,thanks for hunting this thread down, by the way I love your graphite work .Kathryn its funny but the more people opened up on this thread the more it helps.I thank you and everyone for contributing.Joe.

kennychaffin
01-08-2009, 05:22 PM
Kenny,thanks for hunting this thread down, by the way I love your graphite work .Kathryn its funny but the more people opened up on this thread the more it helps.I thank you and everyone for contributing.Joe.

Hee-hee.

My pleasure.

z-jay
01-10-2009, 01:29 AM
Joe, thanks so much for starting this thread and to all the other participants who shared their thoughts.

I thought I had vanquished my inner critic some time ago, and am not overly critical of myself, except for art. Last summer I attended Maggie Price's seminar in Oregon and failed dismally. She is a wonderful teacher and I would love to learn from her, she didn't fail, I did. Now I have these beautiful pastels sitting open on the table and I cannot for the life of me touch them. I plan on starting something and then my Butfirst Syndrome kicks in! My kitchen floor is spotless, the laundry is done and by the end of the month the spring cleaning should all be done and I can start all over again!

That monster beat me to the starting line and I can't seem to find a way around him. I have read your thread twice and hopefully if I read it enough my courage will return. If nothing else, I can read and look at all the wonderful work that is being shown on WC. I love this forum.

z

Kathryn Wilson
01-10-2009, 09:26 AM
z - why not participate in the Weekly sketch thread. Don't try a large painting - just sit down and sketch something small you find in your kitchen, or whatever sparks your imagination.

Start small, but start!

z-jay
01-11-2009, 01:03 AM
Thanks Kathryn, I will give it a try and see if I can figure out how to transmit the result. Learning computing and a new medium at my age is a bit of a stretch- which is good, but a stretch.

z

DocBoots
01-11-2009, 05:24 AM
Kathryn makes a very good point. I've always had a strong inner critic, about everything in my life. It's mostly dissipated now (I think in tiny doses, more of the Inner Editor Robert mentioned, it's a good thing). With my art I had a horrible habit of not finishing artwork, it was in my head that if I finished it then it was done - as is. If it was a work in progress well, it still had the *potential* to be perfect..someday. I think I've tamed the IC - not by abolishing it completely but by allowing the Inner Grandma ("That is just beautiful, dear!") to have a voice alongside it.

just sit down and sketch something small you find in your kitchen, or whatever sparks your imagination.
There was a point that my nasty IC (along with some other conditions) shut down my art completely. And the thing that brought it back was drawing... more! I had reached a point where my expectations were so huge and my self-predictions were so dismal I barely would start a piece. When I took a fabulous course where the instructor made me draw, draw, draw ("draw on the back of the envelopes your bills come in!", she's say) I got over myself and as a result of the practice my drawing improved. Roadblock fixed!

So get out those pastels and do.. something! Anything! To be honest, for me the more mundane the object the better. If I'm drawing something I love it starts to up the ante.. those expectations start rising. If I choose the first random object I see I have less of an 'end product' in mind and I end up exploring value, or color, or some aspect that I might have brushed over otherwise.

~~ Boots ~~

robertsloan2
01-11-2009, 01:06 PM
Joe, thanks again for starting this thread.

I read through my responses and saw that I left out a couple of specific things that I do to beat down the Inner Critic and give the Inner Editor real voice -- because the Inner Critic squalling about whether the idea for my novel is cliche can become such an easy distraction from bothering to proofread my novel and check for bad punctuation, which my Inner Editor loves doing.

I write it all out and start checking off Who Said That? Because the voice of the inner critic usually has a social source. Different people in life have various reasons to try to talk people out of being artists. It ranges from "For your own good" because they're afraid you'll try and fail and throw a tantrum for not winning something with it, to uglier reasons like jealousy or some very practical reasons why if you were happy and independent they could not pull control trips on you as easily.

Then apply reality checks to it and filter it through reason and logic.

A painting cannot be Too Weird and Cliche at the same time, but the Inner Critic isn't rational and may well say both things about the same painting. Cross that off. I finally discovered neither of those things are relevant.

A cliche is a classic done badly.

A classic is a cliche done so well people forgot any other version of it and just catch their breath in awe.

Just look around at the sig line of any artist you admire and see if traditional subjects show up anywhere in it. Or any gallery. There is no right or wrong choice of subjects. If you do the ones you like painting, they will be real and have passion and joy in them. The darkest, most depressing Weird subject in a painting, a portrait of deprivation colored with anxiety... can have a certain underlying liveliness to the wallow because the artist is honestly trying to paint that feeling and the triumph of creating it on paper is a real joy.

I actually am a psychology buff, with a cumulative total of eight years of Psych major though no college degree and a lot of outside reading. I also like anthropology, sociology and a lot of other people sciences because I'm a science fiction writer and had to get my science somewhere. (Life sciences too).

I think that the Inner Editor, the Critique side, comes naturally out of process and is rooted in the desire to paint, and to paint better. It's human to express ourselves and once we learn to draw, the world is cooler for being there to be drawn. Everything has beauty. Every new trick to paint it better including those slippery things like feelings and ideas and abstractions is a gut joy that comes out of being human, it's the power to communicate.

I think the Inner Critic is the voice of Social Anxiety, a fear of social rejection. It is always irrational except in social terms. It's about whether someone at work who was jealous of your ability to draw will still like you or at least lay off and quit picking on you. It's the echo of a thousand bullies who'd like to shove you out of the way so they get all the attention for their sports scores or their latest office-politics maneuver.

Artists are free.

I think the heart of the Artistic License is that artists fight our way through this social thicket of nay-sayers and the nasty disapproval that comes from having the hubris to dare even think you are an artist, to dare despoil real art materials with your icky little feelings and ideas and scribbles, and stand up where the paintings will be judged subjectively.

Other artists care about things like composition, balance, color and so on. Their critique seems to be the healthy Inner Editor type of real critique -- after all, someone else painting well doesn't make your unique painting any less wonderful, it makes everyone like art more. It's the relief of finding out there's someone else who cares about why the Terry Ludwig darks are so useful and why someone would need an entire box of thirty different grays.

What I'm saying, I think, is that it may be in our heads but it didn't get there all by itself. It got there because almost all beginners get picked on mercilessly for daring to begin, daring to go to art school or want to, daring to want a life that isn't in a factory or a cubicle farm. Everyone that gets picked on for trying, there are all the witnesses who hadn't dared try yet and now know the penalty for trying.

All of us fought our way past that, sometimes with a social approval buffer of people who thought we were talented and encouraged us. Others without. It's a continuing struggle. Knowing that it's an external one is something that makes a big difference to me in being able to fight it.

Anyone can learn. Once they do, that artist is expressing who they really are and what they really like to a group of people who consist of core fans who LOVE that style and that message, others who like something about it and like some but not all of it, people who just aren't interested and people who actively dislike it on content or style.

Paying attention mostly to the ones who like it on style and content is sensible, those are your audience. The others are not important, they can find other artists, writers, music, what have you. No one succeeds in pleasing everyone, there are people who hate Michelangelo and laugh if the name comes up and think it's dopey to talk about statues.

So there are today's thoughts on the Inner Critic -- it's self destructive to agree with people who don't like you, sane and healthy to agree with the ones who do and give yourself the benefit of the useful critique you share with others.

Pretending someone else did the painting is a good mental exercise to apply it to one of your own works.

adventureartist
01-12-2009, 12:28 AM
Just my two cents.:wave: ..I have been a Director of live performance and theater for decades. The stories I could tell you about wallflowers becoming great theater actors and movie stars! Amazing and wonderful to see these men and women blossom into the spotlights. Some of these people were really aprehensive, but they knew in their hearts that they wanted to try. That they had something in them worth showing the public. Actors and other artists ARE their own worst critics...my job has been to teach and nurture and encourage some very tenative, shy, and scared artists as they take those very important steps towards the spotlight. And that can be a very joyful, enlightening journey to finding their true selves. Baby steps are very important, never over face yourself, it's self-defeating..take your time! You need that time. Artists are a very sensitive lot...we have all learned or are learning to be kinder to ourselves, and in the process, kinder to each other. Part of the process to artistic expression involves criticism, and constructive criticism is a good part of the learning process. Individually each artist/actor needs to have criticism to grow. Turning the negatives into the positives is another way to move forward...turning that negative, nagging, "I can't" into I CAN
is a start. I have found that half the battles are mental...change the mental recordings, negative and unproductive habits, and untruths into positive, uplifting statements and habits then the physical follows easily with good mentoring and practice. Other people will believe in you as an artist, but to believe in yourself, THAT is the key.:thumbsup:

z-jay
01-12-2009, 11:24 PM
What a great group that belong to WC and especially the pastel forum. I am encouraged and am learning a great deal just by reading and looking at the lovely paintings.

Adventureartist, how right you are, it does start in the head. Robert, I always get good pointers when I read your input. Boots, it is good to know that I am not the only one that is slow to the finish line with a project.

Katheryn, you managed to kick me out of my mental prison with just a few words. I haven't joined the sketch group yet, but I took out the first picture that Maggie had us do in class, did a few finishing touches and will try to send it later this week. May need my granddaughter to help me on the computer. Also, I have started a pencil portrait of the grandson of friends of ours. I had felt so blocked I couldn't get started until your relply. Now I have him pretty well sketched in and will start work in earnest.

Thank you, thank you all! z

Kathryn Wilson
01-12-2009, 11:39 PM
Yep, we all need one of those "kicks in the butt" once in a while. Glad we got you working and there are plenty of helpful threads on how to get your images uploaded in the New User forum.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=297697

Sonni
01-13-2009, 03:57 PM
Last summer I attended Maggie Price's seminar in Oregon and failed dismally. She is a wonderful teacher and I would love to learn from her, she didn't fail, I did. Now I have these beautiful pastels sitting open on the table and I cannot for the life of me touch them. I plan on starting something and then my Butfirst Syndrome kicks in! My kitchen floor is spotless, the laundry is done and by the end of the month the spring cleaning should all be done and I can start all over again!

That monster beat me to the starting line and I can't seem to find a way around him. I have read your thread twice and hopefully if I read it enough my courage will return. If nothing else, I can read and look at all the wonderful work that is being shown on WC. I love this forum.

z

Oh, oh... it sounds like you went into Maggie's workshop with expectations of a "finished" piece. This is not what workshops are about, and some instructors will tell you that in the beginning. It's about discovery and process, not about how good is the piece I did today.

A couple years ago, I took a half-day workshop from Maggie at the Art and Learning Expo in Pasadena, CA.I learned one thing in 3 hrs: How laying on primary colors in correct value can determine the structure of your painting. She had us (as she probably did with you) use 2 yellows, 2 blues, 2 reds to map in the painting, then we set them with turp. No great or even good painting came out of this. Just an understanding of a process.

Sonni
01-13-2009, 04:00 PM
but to believe in yourself, THAT is the key.:thumbsup:

Bingo!:clap:

Sonni
01-13-2009, 04:03 PM
So get out those pastels and do.. something! Anything! To be honest, for me the more mundane the object the better. If I'm drawing something I love it starts to up the ante.. those expectations start rising. If I choose the first random object I see I have less of an 'end product' in mind and I end up exploring value, or color, or some aspect that I might have brushed over otherwise.

~~ Boots ~~

So get busy and draw that tractor :D .

DocBoots
01-13-2009, 06:05 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by DocBoots

So get out those pastels and do.. something! Anything! To be honest, for me the more mundane the object the better. If I'm drawing something I love it starts to up the ante.. those expectations start rising. If I choose the first random object I see I have less of an 'end product' in mind and I end up exploring value, or color, or some aspect that I might have brushed over otherwise.

~~ Boots ~~


So get busy and draw that tractor :D .
Is that a challenge? I'll see you over in the weekly sketch thread :lol::evil:!

~~ Boots ~~

z-jay
01-14-2009, 01:51 AM
Katheryn, it may be a little bit before I show anything but the good news (for me at least) is that I am actually doing some art work, in pencil, but still art and enjoying it. Looks like the house will have to wait for any deep cleaning:clap:
Sonni, you are correct, I did hope to do something fairly good and ended up with several "interesting" pieces! However, I did learn quite a lot and have a great admiration for Maggie and Bill.

Maggie turned me on to WetCanvas for which I am truly thankful. Each day I am finding more information and it is tons of fun.:heart:

:wave: z