My last critique ( which will indeed be the last ) has left me reeling . And although the criticism lobbed against the work has in an unexpected way provided inspiration. My work was compared to both wallpaper and paper dolls , two directions I find fascinating- even if that was not the intent . I think exploring the frankly gendered even homophobic accusation that my figures look like paper dolls is exciting . I mean what grown man plays with paper dolls? Me I suppose. But inspiration aside I’ve been feeling hobbled in the studio , fussing but not producing .
The group leader who possesses empathy without pandering , something I admire, confessed that after critiques in her own past she was unable to work in her studio for several weeks.
I simply do not have that time .
So although I feel dispirited I am facing the studio . Primarily focusing upon drawing , something that feels nurturing and familiar . And without conscious intent I turn to the Baptist John.
Drawing away , happy with the quiet I suddenly become hyper self critical – the legs , they are so wrong .My inner voice jumps into overdrive “you really do not possess anatomical understanding , just as the group had asserted !”
It’s a horrible feeling when your harsh inner critical voice is echoed by an external one .
I was about ready to toss the whole damned drawing ( the medium , colored pencil , wasn’t erasing properly ). But instead I decided, partly in defiance to my own demons , to continue drawing .
In this case legs .
Working from source material I am trying to understand legs and feet; specifically trying to understand the difference between feet depicted in classical sculpture and actual feet. Why the stylization of the toe next to the big toe . Was it simply more graceful ? It does give a pleasant V shape . A lot to explore , plus it silences the nasty demons .
Concerns such as this will occupy my brain, I will try to reject “rightness” over expression and I will continue to try to process the criticisms , perhaps even benefiting from them.
Today I have my life drawing class ,sadly soon to end and now I am scrambling to find other venues to continue this integral part of my practice .
Until next time, be well.
9 thoughts on “Wandering in the Wilderness ”
Critiques must be taken with a grain of salt, or perhaps a pillar of salt! They often say more about the person giving the critique than anything else, so though it may be difficult do not take them personally. However, if something said actually resonates with you, or if part of you flinches because deep down you know it is true, then take what you can from it and realize that it’s time for that part of you to grow. Don’t make yourself crazy because of it, just do what you can and move on. You’re sowing seeds that sooner or later will come to fruition.
I’m sorry you’ve been through this bruising experience Leonard. We so need feedback and discussion as artists , what we do can be such a solitary activity, a critique group sounds like it should be so useful and stimulating. But sometimes it isn’t, it can be actually quite harming. I’m thinking just like therapy, at its best, it can open doors, hold us through tricky times, show us another view, show us the way to growth, but in the wrong hands it can put us back years and cause more damage. I think critique groups are like that, you have to find the right one for you. You’re such a unique artist with such a unique vision you may have to shop around for quite a while until you find the right group. Or you may just put together a network of people who you can connect with to provide that function in a different way.
That drawing is the best possible retort, I so, so admire you for getting up today and making such a drawing, a powerful action and a great drawing 😊
I think the therapy analogy is excellent . David is a psychoanalyst and I know of how his patients have been traumatized by past experiences . I’ve been lucky my therapists have been at least compassionate often really helpful .
I’m going to stick with a close group of like minded artists , I’m searching but want the search to be in line with my intention . You and I paint differently but there is a sympathy between our works . That is why I treasure your observations and comments .
Never mind them. I like your work. I like your story-telling ability, and the emotional core that is so beautifully shone in your color palette. I like how your compositions reflect Hogarth’s line of beauty and the golden mean. The way you draw is the way you draw. There’s plenty of room in the art universe for all artists. What’s most important is that you believe in yourself. And you should. You have a rare gift, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
I’m working on listening to the voice within, it’s hard my friend .
Maybe it is the originality of your work that bothers your critics….hummmmmm!!! Keep painting….they are only one voice…stay thick-skinned on this….some of the comments above are most reassuring for ;you Leonard….’Anatomically correct??? Is the David in the Accademia anatomically ‘correct’…huh??!!! Dan Kelsogcelsoniemail@example.com
😬thank you friend
hey Leonard, I really hope that you get back to your painting very soon.
I really enjoyed your work at the critique group, just know I am a supporter of your work and vision, I think you have a lot to offer to the world , you already have a unique voice and unique look that is major that can be said about any artist, have a great weekend
Thank you brother