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You Do Things Wrong

by Carolyn Henderson on 10/18/2011 9:49:18 AM

 

This article is by Carolyn Henderson, the managing half of Steve Henderson Fine Art. She is a Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews and her  freelance writing appears in regional newspapers, online magazines, and her humor blog, Middle-Aged Plague.


Knitters are normally easy going, accepting people, but I met one once whose goal in life was to ensure that everyone else approached the craft with the same limited, narrow confines that she used to run her circumscribed, seamlessly regulated life.

 

“I’ve never seen anyone knit the way you do,” was the first full sentence after the introductions. “It’s odd.”

 

“A German woman taught me,” I replied.

 

“Well, she taught you wrong. I’ve lived all around Europe for the last 20 years, and I can assure you that no one on the continent knits that way.”

 

She then proceeded to illustrate how my knit stitches were askew (they looked straight to me), and then provided specific instructions on the correct procedure, which looked askew to me.

 

But she was confident, and she had lived in Europe, and her words shook me to the point that when I returned home, I set my knitting bag aside, unenthused and desultory.

 

One part of me said to pay no attention to this woman, who chose to run her life with a belief system so constrained that Jesus himself would have difficulty making it into her heaven, but the other part – the shaken, dazed part – reminded me that she had lived in Europe, and, well, that pretty much said it all.

 

For two days, while my local yarn shop was closed, I drooped about the house, all pleasure in an activity that has brought me much joy and which I am actually quite good at, gone. I was surprised at myself, and at the way that this dislikable woman had destroyed my confidence and joy by means of a few well placed, thoughtless comments.

 

One thing I knew – I needed to get that confidence back, either by confirming with an expert whose opinion I trusted that the woman’s comments were valid, or that they were not. And I needed to get that confidence back fast.

 

“You don’t knit funny, your stitches are straight, and there is no one universal European manner of stitching,” my local yarn shop owner said. “Who told you this?”

 

I mentioned the name.

 

Pause.

 

“Yes. Well Mrs. Knitware is a very nice lady but she does hold some strict opinions that aren’t necessarily valid. Don’t let her words destroy what you’re doing, because what you’re doing is right.”

 

I got my confidence back.

 

And I learned something in the process. No, not just to ignore the words of uptight, regulated and narrowly opinionated people (which I normally do, by the way), but that sometimes you are slapped in the face with such force that you reel, like a boxer, against the ropes

without understanding why, and with really very little justification, you are instantaneously drained of all energy, joy, confidence, sureness, and self-assurance in abilities that moments before you felt pretty darned good about.

 

It could be a comment from a juror, or an observation from a colleague artist, a whispered aside from a viewer at a show, a glimpse of someone else’s work, a passing remark on your technique – whatever it is, it’s a truly thoughtless comment that for some reason, in that moment, steals your soul and makes you question whether you’re any good at this at all, or whether you ever will be, and if it’s worth going on because you’re never going to get anywhere anyway.

 

Maybe this will never happen to you, but if you do this long enough, it probably will. And when it does, the crucial thing is to get help fast – in my case I found someone whose opinion and character I trusted and laid out the whole small, silly scenario, and let her walk me back into the light. To this day I still don’t know how I found myself so securely locked and trussed in that dark room with such breathtaking rapidity.

 

Obviously, we can all improve at what we do, but that’s not what this is all about. This is about the instantaneous sucking of your psyche by the vacuum of somebody else’s limited mind, and the inexplicable sideswiping it just accomplished on your very being.

 

Do whatever you can to get out of that dark room, and if you slam the door against the fingers of the person who shut you in, well, that’s just sweet.



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Topics: art criticism | Carolyn Henderson | creativity | FineArtViews | inspiration | originality 

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 47 Comments

Amy Guidry
via faso.com
I've been told what I should paint, how I should paint, and I've even had a drunk non-artist tell me what is and isn't art. When I made the decision to start painting and to try to get into a gallery exhibit, even one of my "good" friends told me that I couldn't do it. It's a good thing I didn't listen to any of these people, otherwise I may not have even been an artist at all. I just stay focused and put my blinders on. There will be fans, there will be haters, I remind myself of this anytime I hear a band that I like or a movie that I think is great. Those great bands and movies have their haters, too.

I always like to think of these words by Ralph Waldo Emerson: "Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm." As long as I feel good about what I'm doing, I can't go wrong.

N. Essman
via faso.com
Thank you so much. I needed this right now...just when my confidence began to sag you said the right thing. 'Things happen for a reason!'

Sandra Haynes
via faso.com
You hit that nail squarely on the head! Wonderful article, Carolyn!

Mark
via faso.com
Carolyn - Wow, did I need to hear these exact words on this very morning! I have just come through a similar situation in which the head-person asked me if I knew what I was doing, that I "looked confused." It really threw me up against the ropes, but then I realized I knew exactly what I was doing - another person had hired me for my expertise and past performnace! Now this guy was questioning my ability. I re-postured myself, and went back at this guy with all the confidence that only years of practice and performance could bring to bear. His demeanor changed immediately and the rest of my time with him was truly wonderful because we understood one another. The lesson: Know who you are and don't let anyone define you.

Thanks so much for a timely and well-worded article!

Best, M

jack white
via faso.com
Thanks for today's smile. I immediately recognized the lady. Every community has at least one. The problem is these kind seem so sure of themselves. They are the authority. We tend to listen because they are so confident in their wisdom.

For several years I got stacks of emails telling me all the grammar mistakes I made in my writing. I assumed they were true, but since I was more concerned with the message I would reply. "Thank you for giving me such sound advice." I never argued, which I knew was driving them up the wall.

With such a limited writing education I resolved myself to continue to hack away telling others what I had learned. I figured they could overlook my typos and words not spelled correctly to glean the truths I had to say. I never take offense with those who point our my flaws. I have many.

About once a month I still get an email telling me of a mistake they found in one of my six art marketing books. I even paid professional editors to catch my glaring mistakes, but they missed a few.

We can't afford to allow distracting folks keep us from our mission. When you run into a know it all, trust yourself.

You done good with this article. jack white

Sharon Weaver
via faso.com
I just judged an art exhibition so was in the position of being one of the "experts" who tell artists if their work was successful or not. It is a big responsibility and one that I take very seriously. There or those who want to encourage and those who want to manipulate. I hope to be in the positive group and understand that a few careless words can make a negative impact on an artist.

Mimi Torchia Boothby Watercolors
via faso.com
ah yes. To be able to filter out all those negative people. the power of positive thinking. Tell someone they are a painter, and they will paint. I don't know how many people have told me, "I can't draw" My own husband told me that many times and one day I stuck a pencil and some paper in his hand and said "Draw a donkey" (he loves donkeys) bit by bit a donkey appeared on the paper. It was not a van gogh. But it was a recognizable donkey. My husband looked at that donkey and said "I CAN draw" and many times since then remembers. "I CAN draw"
makes me wonder who told him he couldn't. I think a lot of kids get hammered in elementary school and quit.
I'm glad you're still knitting, and the both of us are now resilient enough to keep doing what we love no matter what people tell us.
Good article, thanks for writing!

Jana Botkin
via faso.com
Carolyn, you had me immediately by starting out with the word "Knitters". 8-) The entire article resonated with me - all the years of criticism for working in pencil, working from photos, focusing on technique . . . they bounce around in my head, wear off the corners of my confidence, wear down my resolve to perfect my skills, and just plain wear me out. Thank you for the most welcome encouragement here today!

p.s. Jack White, I will happily proofread anything for you any time!

Doug Hoppes
via faso.com
Wow! Okay, this totally resonated with me. In fact, you just changed my mind about something. To keep up my drawing skills (I paint landscapes with abstract shapes in them), I started doing figure drawings. You either get it right or not. It's pretty easy to see a lot of your mistakes.

So, I'd been trying to draw almost every night and thought that I had a lot of really good drawings. A lot of artists really liked the drawings, etc.

All of sudden, one day, one of the artists in my group (who I know sells paintings and makes a living doing artwork...he's also been an art director, etc) tells me that he likes the fact that I am working hard, but all of my drawings have huge glaring mistakes and I should do this, not that, this is wrong, that is wrong, etc. Well, that totally took the wind out of my sail! I stopped doing figure drawing for the last 2 months and had no desire to do it.

I realized that, he does have some valid points, but his criticism about huge glaring mistakes, etc... was incorrect. In reality, after looking at some of the drawings after a while, there were a couple of little mistakes, but that was all. His comment totally threw me off.

So, thanks to you, I've realized that that is just one opinion of one person on the internet. Time to get back to my figure drawing practice.

Michelle
via faso.com
I took an advanced drawing class up at school (Drawing III). At the time, I was so new to Christianity and every aspect of my life (thinking, believing and behavior) was changing at almost break-neck speed...as a result, all of these changes were starting to show up in my artwork. The Drawing III studio class was a 6 hour Saturday class that I took in addition to a full school schedule and working full time. Due to time constraints, I was only able to work on my artwork during the weekly 6 hour studio class time, which proved a lot to me as time went by.

At the onset of the semester, my instructor, Yvonne, separated me from the rest of the class and I worked in an empty studio across the hall from everybody else. After 3 weeks, she started the habit/routine of coming in to look at my work in the morning and berate me: "that is immature work" or "that looks like something a high school student would do" or "I can't stand those colors, they're not working" or "you need to change this, it looks horrible" etc. At the end of the class period, she would come back into the little studio and say that she liked what I was doing, everything looks great, etc., great progress.
Things started to get very confusing for me, because after I packed away my supplies after class each Saturday, I would not work on the artwork until the next class time. (My schedule was FULL and there was no time to work on art outside of the class.) Yvonne would approve and praise a drawing at the end of class one day and then be totally disgusted with it the next week, when nothing had changed since the last time she had seen it. (????) After 2 months of this going on every Saturday, it started to wear me down. I did not recognize what was going on...spiritually speaking. Since I was feeling so confused, I decided to re-connect with one of my previous professors, Dr. Donna Adams, and get her opinion of my new body of work. I told her that for the first time I felt focused in my work and that it was the best I had ever done, but I was getting a lot of push back from Yvonne and needed another opinion. (I was actually feeling so torn that I was contemplating just giving up art altogether.)

I met with my old instructor on a Sunday afternoon and was very nervous... Maybe the work was crappy? Am I wasting my time? Donna arrived at the school and I started showing her the new artworks. Her mouth kinda gaped open and I thought to myself, yep, it's crappy....... Well, that wasn't what she was thinking...and what she said to me has been permanently etched into my mind: "You have a beautiful visual voice and I've been waiting a long time for you to have something important to say with it and now you do. Never stop expressing these kinds of things. Right now, as a student, your job is to learn and keep your GPA up, so I would advise you to do whatever it takes to get your A in Yvonne's class, but keep on working on these types of themes outside of class. Get your grade, but follow this passion and continue to express it. Every musician has a listener, every writer has reader, and every artist has a viewer. You've just got to find your audience and speak directly to them." A life changing moment for me.

After our meeting I decided to act on Donna's counsel and the next weekend, I skipped the Saturday class so that I could stay at home and create another body of work to appease Yvonne. I spent a little over $250.00 and created 10 new paintings in 2 days. I absolutely hated the paintings, but I was trying to do what Yvonne wanted me to do. The next Saturday, I took all of the paintings up to school and set them up in my studio space and told Yvonne that I had created 10 new paintings based off her previous direction and wanted her to come and see them and critique them. She told me that she would right after she got the rest of the class started on their project. I went back to the studio across the hall and waited for an hour, but she didn't come over. I decided to go back to the classroom and she said that she would be right over. I waited another hour, but she still didn't show. I went back to the classroom and she said that she would come over at the lunch hour. So...I went back to the studio and waited. I was very nervous... Would she like it? Would I get an A for the semester? Another hour passed and I decided to go back over to the classroom to see if she was even there. As I was walking towards the classroom, she met me in the hall and had a melt down... She got a very nasty tone with me and said "I don't need to see the paintings. I know they aren't any good. I've decided to give you a C for the semester. Religion doesn't belong in art, nobody wants to see God in art, it doesn't sell, galleries won't show Christian art, nobody cares about God being represented through art."

WOW!!!! The truth Finally came out! Now all of the tension and rudeness was explained. It wasn't me or the artwork that she didn't like...it was the religious theme. It took her 3 months to boil over and when she did, I assure you it wasn't pretty. What I think was so crazy was that we still had 3 six hour classes left in the semester and she had already determined my final grade before reviewing the entire body of work for the semester. I didn't return to her class after that day, but I did get my C. I was more proud of that C than all of the A's I have received in my art studies over the years combined, because of the spiritual principles that were taught to me during the course of that semester.


Lorrie Beck
via faso.com
Boy, can I relate! I was standing next to my work at a really great show when a woman walks up with another woman and comments "They just don't SAY anything" about my paintings. Hmmm... my first thought was to say, "You know, I can hear you", but I kept my mouth shut and my confidence dropped like a rock. What's funny is that I had so many great comments during the show, but did I remember those? Nope, just this inconsiderate woman, whose work wasn't in the show I might add, and her thoughtless comments. Ok, so I have seen work at various shows and form an opinion of like or dislike, but my own rule is that if I like it, I comment to the artist and hopefully make them feel good. If I don't like it, I certainly don't blurt it out! Art is such a personal statement that I think when someone says something callous about our work we are more likely to take it as a a statement of "I don't like you". So, what's the solution? Developing a thick skin is a good start. Also, find someone whose opinion you trust and ask them for a critique. I find that when I give a critique, I try to mention something I like abou the work and then go for a suggestion rather than say "that's just wrong", because, well, that would just be wrong. Anyway, thank you, Carolyn, for bringing to light what most of us have had to endure at one point or the other. The moral of the story would be to keep doing what your doing and if it brings you joy, someone will see that and respond.

Lisa Rose
via faso.com
Thank you so much for this. I have been having a very hard time now for two years. There is an Art Walk in my city that I did for years, I loved the Walk. It was my biggest seller. Then two years ago when I entered, they juried my paintings out, they said I could bring my jewlery but not my oil paintings. Well I only do jewelry as a fun pass time not as an art, I brought my jewlery because I was asked to and if no paintings sell, I would at least sell a few pieces of jewlry to make the booth fee. My oil paintings are my art. So I declined to be in the show with only my jewelry. Since then, it is so hard for me to paint and I dont even want to make jewelry anymore. This has put me in a funk I have not been able to get past. I know I keep thinking why is this effecting me so bad, but I cannot seem to shake it. It makes me mad at my self for letting this small group of jurors effect me so deeply. Thanks for your artical here, I will consult with some other people in my area and see if I can gain my confidence that way. thank you

Nancy Riedell
via faso.com
Your article has struck a chord with many of us. We artists are a sensitive bunch. It makes it even difficult when Mrs. Knitware is your very own sister! I'm now grappling with "Do I want to completely remove this individual from my life?" Or "Do I tolerate the mean and cutting remarks (that I've suffered most of my life)?" I've chosen to remove Mrs. Knitware from my life completely. Life is far too short to put up with such negativity. Thank you so much for this article. It's what I needed to read today!

Mary Ann Pals
via faso.com
Wow, Michelle, you've illustrated my point I was going to make so well! I truly believe that people who go out of their way to 'set the world straight' about something have issues, namely control issues. I know it's easier said than done (because someone's hurtful, controlling words can totally derail me for days), but we need to keep in mind--who owns the problem? If someone says something demeaning or hurtful or highly critical to us without an ounce of concern, then that speaks volumes about THEM, not us.

My one niece who is beautiful and talented, but had her share of one/two-date relationships when she was in her teens gave my then-preteen daughter some advice years ago that I thought was priceless: "If they drop you like a stone after only a couple of dates, it's their loss, not yours. I guess they didn't deserve you."

Yes, it's easy to become arrogant and unteachable if we never listen to advice, but seeking a reality check from time to time with someone whose opinion we trust and respect is key. Bravo, Carolyn and Michelle, that's just what you did! (Now if I can only remember what I've written here the next time someone punches me in the stomach with their critical words).

Mary Ann Pals

Mimi Torchia Boothby Watercolors
via faso.com
@Michelle
it's a miracle that you're still in the Art community after what that woman put you through!
what a story. I'm glad at least in the end she got honest with you.
YIKES



Caroly
via faso.com
Amy: I want to hear the story of the drunk non-artist's critique. I have a feeling that you can tell it in a funny, yet brutal way, and I'm thinking that a lot of us have a similar story. You have a good attitude and a sensible way of looking at things. Your "good" friend can learn much from you, if you're even in the mood to talk to him/her.
(I wouldn't be)

N. -- We people need each other. When we're functional, supportive, and understanding, that is. Our inner psyche seriously does not need each other when the message is the opposite!

Sandra: thank you. Like a bell, I like to resonate. I may never be the belle of the ball, but I can be the bell!

Mark: I am happy for you that you looked into your soul and your experience and found the strength you needed to push back. People like this are frequently bullies and cowards deep down, and confidence scares them.

Jack: I am an English aficionado, I love grammar, and I cringe at the way people pick pick pick at others for minor (and even sort of major) word and punctuation issues. The important thing is to speak,to communicate. Grammarians forget that the purpose of grammar, punctuation, and syntax is to make it easier for the message to be read, by keeping things consistent (ever tried to read William Clark's writings? Arrrgh!), but that their insistence upon things being done just so inhibits people from writing or speaking in the first place.

You speak out and you speak up, because you have so much welling within you that you just have to get it out! Be assured that your influence and encouragement is greater than any grammar knit pickers, and what you have to say is of far more value.

Sharon: judging and commenting upon others' art is, as you observe, a serious responsibility indeed. Artists like you set the bar higher for those that are coming up and watching. I am grateful for jurors of your caliber.

Mimi: smart woman, you. Not only did you defuse a frustrating situation, you helped your husband see that yes, he could, after all. A knitter too? C'est bon!

Jana: "Knitter" makes my head swing around too! I know that you give back as good as you get, but I also know that sometimes it wears you down to be told the same thing, over and over. Keep at it, my friend; you are making a difference.

Doug: good for you. Do not be fooled because an artist "sells his work and makes his living at it." Maybe he does, maybe he doesn't, but being a director of something no doubt helped the bank account a bit. Bottom line: doesn't matter how financially successful someone is, if they're rude, insensitive, and callous, then they're not successful in the areas that really matter.

Nicole Hyde
via faso.com
Wonderful (and timely!) article, Carolyn! Recently I was treated quite unprofessionally and instead of feeling angry at the shabby treatment, I began to beat myself up. I lost confidence...well, just felt lost in general.

Your article is the perfect pick-me-up and I thank you from the bottom of my wounded little heart. :-)



Carolyn Henderson
via faso.com
Michelle: I wanted to address your most interesting and sensitively written comment separately.

I do not generally come out and say this, but I am a Christian. It is not that I am reluctant, or ashamed, or any of all that -- it is

1) many Christians do a great job of mucking up the meaning of the word, and people who are not Christians rightly recoil when they hear the term.
2) I seriously want people to interact with me, and I with them, based upon the qualities of Christ that He is working on in me. I don't want verbal shorthand to define who I am. My Christianity defines a private relationship between me and the creator of the universe, and my actions and thoughts are far more integral to this relationship than words. Odd, coming from a writer, but words are worth only so much as the heart within.

That being said, I applaud you for painting what is in your heart and soul. My encouragement is that you NOT define it as Christian or non-Christian art. There is no such thing. Christianity is not a subculture, with its own art, literature, music, food, clothing, and knitting patterns. This very subculture, which pulsates through our culture, shuts others out. I myself stay away from organizations and establishments the promote themselves as a Christian version of something the "world" does.

Christ does not exclude; he embraces.

In the same way, when art is defined as Christian, as if it were a movement like impressionism or contemporary realism or abstract expressionism, it is limited to people's perceptions of the term.

Paint your soul; paint your being; paint your best -- in the same way you live your daily life, do not worry about sending a "message" -- believe me, it's not subtle, and non-Christians quickly get the idea that they are being preached to.

Paint what and how you love, honestly and deeply, and it will resonate in the souls of others.

Esther J. Williams
via faso.com
Carolyn, I can`t count the times I heard someone make a smart crack about my art with no regard to my sensitivities. For each incident there was a turn of the page in which all wounds were healed by someone else complimenting it or me. I used to get mad like a fighting Irishman leaving a pub in the wee hours of the morning. I wanted to fight, sometimes I did and mouthed off at them. When an artist has been around for years, we tend to become used to these smartypants. We should ask, "Who are you to say what is the right way, have you received an expert degree or high appointment by his/her majesty?"
Just a few days ago in a crowded museum with artists standing by their outstanding works of art in a public sale, a woman walks by and she huffed and puffed, raised her eyebrows and said, "These works are all too unreal, they are not like true nature." She looked at me glaringly and pointed to an artist`s works that were color saturated and strong, she waved her hands in disgust. Meanwhile, the artist was standing right there! He just turned his back on her and pretended not to hear her. She was trying to get our attention. Then she showed me the next artist`s works and said, "Now this is believable, it is true to nature." I looked at her, recognized the loftiness attitude, smiled and walked away. She was left alone to simmer, I wasn`t going to spend one ounce of my time trying to explain art to her. I knew she was opinionated and nothing would change her.
Loved your last comment about slamming the door on the fingers. Ouch!

Carolyn Henderson
via faso.com
Lisa: That small group of jurors is small in more ways than one. Their mean-spirited attitude of closure was an attack that it is difficult to get over.

I empathize and sympathize with your discouragement and lack of desire to do either jewelry or art. Many years ago, the first time I showed Steve's works to a particular (rather small, less significant than it thought) gallery, the director (a friend) said, "I love the charcoal portraiture. Oh, but don't leave the landscapes."

This particular person, years later, took classes from Steve on his landscapes, because she couldn't match him in color and emotion and verve. She limited herself as much as she limited others.

Get rid of those voices from those jurors. When they come back, shut them out. Pick up your jewelry, and your painting, again -- and do what makes you smile, what makes you breathe easier, what gives you peace and joy. You have what you need to be the artist that you are.

You do not need the approval or good words of any other person to pursue the skill and drive and beauty that you have at your command. The best revenge that you can have on these people is to move forward without them.

Nancy: hard decision, and I applaud you. Life is far too short to endure the attacks and barbs of those who just won't stop. They wear us down and keep us from giving fully to those around us.

Mary Ann Pals
via faso.com
Carolyn and Michelle,

I too am a Christian. Carolyn, AMEN to what you wrote in response to Michelle. If we bare our souls at our easel we can't help but show our Christian faith. It doesn't need to be labeled Christian. Even atheists are showing their non-belief at their easels, if they are true to themselves. Michelle, I applaud you that your Christian faith was coming through so loud and clear in your work that THAT is why your instructor had a meltdown. Stay honest as you work and no other explanation or label needs to be attached. It will speak for itself.

Mary Ann Pals

Carolyn Henderson
via faso.com
Lorrie: I do that too -- zing in on those nasty comments and keep them rotating around in my mind, the very thing I tell my kids NOT to do. Maybe I should visit my own mother more often. I'm glad that you keep moving forward in what you do, and get past the negative attitudes.

Nicole: may your wounded little heart go out for a cup of coffee or tea, along with the vitally important cookie, and heal. And may it kick back and kick butt to those insensitive slobs who trod all over it in the first place.

Esther: How do these people function in society? And yet they thrive. Your ignoring this person was sweet indeed, allowing her to simmer in the bitter broth of her vileness.

I was at, of all places, a tea party the other day when another opinionated woman was blathering away. It must have been the quiche or something, but I was in an irascible mood and I shot back her volleys at her, IN. HER. FACE. as my College Girl would say.

Felt good. I let my polite, gracious person go for awhile and just attacked. She crumpled, and went off to destroy someone else's day. The two women sitting at the table with us stared, open mouthed.

Gosh, that was fun.

Mary Ann: so right you are. What bubbles out from within us spills out into our words, paintings, thoughts, and hands.

Carolyn Henderson
via faso.com
Michelle: I shared your story with Steve over lunch, and his response was immediate:

"That teacher was wrong.

"It doesn't matter what the student paints -- whether or not it's religious or irreligious or in between -- the teacher's only obligation is to critique that painting on it's artistic ability.

"The teacher overstepped the line, and I hope that the artist gets beyond his/her narrow mindedness.

"Good for Michelle for being true to the artist within."



George De Chiara
via faso.com
Carolyn, I was surprised to read that this person was able to shake your confidence so much, but I guess it can happen to any of us. It's a good reminder that your not going to be able to please everyone all the time. I think Jack hit it on the head with his comment that we listen to these types of people because they have such confidence in what they are saying, they must be right.



Susan Holland
via faso.com
Again, Carolyn, you nailed it.
I could do a whole new career with the time I've wasted being derailed and demoralized by such a domineering personality. People say things like that because of a deep need inside themselves, I've concluded, and they are to be kept at arm's length because they might, like a wounded animal, suddenly be induced to bite you.

And they are put in our way with God's permission to educate us on where the safe paths are.

I'm with you on a LOT of things. Susan

Joanne Benson
via faso.com
Carolyn,
Another post that resonates with all of us! I had a boss that would pick on my spelling in a public meeting. Minutes were approved at the meeting and he would always find something to mention during that process. Obscure stuff and odd spellings of names, etc. Things that he could have told me quietly ahead of time or afterward and I would have changed them. I used to boil inside when he did it.

Another peeve I have is what I will call "The Silent Treatment". A fellow artist came to an opening reception I had with 2 other artists. She totally ignored the work and went right for the food and connections with attendees. She couldn't be bothered to say hello and look at the work. We had been to her openings and had been complementary, etc. There was no common courtesy there.....Even if she didn't have anything nice to say about the work, she should have greeted us.

Jo Allebach
via faso.com
It is nice to know I am not alone on this sometimes disheartening venture. Thankfully I learned at a young age that I was not any good as an artist so the adverse comments now do not have such a negative impact. The sad thing is it took me till my mid forties to even get into my art in full. I usually keep the good ahead of the bad.
Thanks to everyone for the comments.

Adriana Guidi
via faso.com
Wow- you really struck a chord with me as well!I've had that happen to me a couple of times,and you worded that feeling perfectly---paraphrasing here...literally sucks the joy right out of you..that's exactly what it feels like.You just want to throw everything against the wall and say what's the point. Things said from "well known artists" like "you have potential" or "not quite up to our standards"(that from a local art "group"...are hurtful and really don't help you improve.Fortunately,like you said getting support from other artists,your boyfriend ,and common sense from Mom all help. Great article and thanks for sharing!

Michelle
via faso.com
Thanks Everybody!!

That incident happened in the fall of 1997... It was a very difficult trial to endure, but God used it to strengthen me in ways that I would have never imagined. : )

Like others that have posted here, I have heard snarky remarks from others about artwork in galleries and art festivals over the years and it reminds me to be careful of what I say in public places where art is being displayed so that I don't bruise somebody's feelings.

Lisa Rose
via faso.com
Thank you Carolyn for your encouraging words. I like the part about the best revenge is to move forward without them, well said!! thank you again. You are a dear kind women. I can see all of us here appreciate you. :)

tom weinkle
via faso.com
Carolyn,

Been there, done that. As usual, you have such great words of advice to share.

Sometimes, people mean well and you can put it into the right context. Sometimes people offer advice to make themselves feel better. I try to figure out where they are coming from before deciding to swing the door on their fingers. Even with the best of intentions it hurts, but one way heals faster than the other.

thx

tom

Carolyn Henderson
via faso.com
George -- it surprised me too. As you say, it just happens sometimes. Jack's right -- it's the WAY people say some of the stupidest things that fools us.

Susan -- a wise observation indeed. People who are secure and happy within themselves have no need to lash out at others; rather, they reach out.

Joanne -- I wonder if your boss was related to Michelle's art "instructor"? Such amazing insensitivity is jaw dropping.

Jo -- no time is wasted, and there are no accidents. The art you produce now wells from the experiences you underwent in your prior 40s.

Adriana -- I am constantly amazed at, despite how different we all are, how we share so many similar, core experiences. Sometimes I wonder, do the people who verbally destroy ever experience what they are doing to the people around them, or are they truly oblivious?

Michelle -- your story struck a strong, collective chord. I'm thinking that it will be repeated in social situations in many different places, and will provide encouragement to many.

Lisa -- we have a cat named Eddie who is the snuggiest, sweetest, huggable thing around, and yet he never retracts his claws, and he has this disturbing tendency to randomly beat up the other kitties. So I try to be snuggy, because I really like the ordinary people that we all are, but every so often I chase after dragons and run 'em up a tree.


Joanne Benson
via faso.com
Carolyn, As I was reading the latest comments it reminded me of a cover letter that was published in an art association newsletter. The regular editor was away at a class and asked a college art professor to fill in. He made several disparaging remarks about traditional still life and landscape painting in his opening write up. His remarks got my feathers ruffled and in the next month's newsletter the regular editor commented that a number of people were upset with his commentary. I had even drafted a rebuttal but decided against sending it on. Apparently others made their feelings known. It felt like a slap in the face though......

Donald Fox
via faso.com
I expect most everyone has had run-ins with purveyors of negativity. In the moment, unless we're centered and certain, the results can be disconcerting or devasting. This is one reason why, as others have mentioned before, a good support system is important. These pages, in posts and responses, often serve that purpose.

Emily
via faso.com
All of you who create art... from the perspective of an art appreciator, do remember that even "famous" artists do not appeal to everyone. Monet makes me weep with joy (I have literally cried in front of his paintings), but there is some art that I just do not care for. It does not make it any less valuable or amazing.

Keep creating what makes you happy, and it will speak to the right audience.

Annette
via faso.com
The beauty about knitting is that it is a craft that has no right or wrong. I learned this from the book of Elizabeth Zimmermann.

helen
via faso.com
I know how you felt--I've been there. First--i do knit differently (combo)--and from the first my knitting was criticed (negitively) by my mother (who couldn't stand that i held the yarn in my left hand) and my german aunt (who couldn't stand my reversed purls)

I held my own--and didn't change--but for many years, i was reluctant to knit anywhere where i could be seen.

time and time again, i was "corrected" and time and time again, i rejected the correction. but i got tired of always being on the defensive.

Now, I have come into my own--I know I am a great knitter, and that how i knit is not an issue--(though some still try to take issue with it!) It a lesson i keep learning (in knitting, in writing, in style, in.. every aspect of my life!)

Susan Holland
via faso.com
Helen, I grew up in a family of knitters. EVERY female family member knitted... grandmothers, mothers, aunts, cousins, cousin's children...and as far as I know they are still lined up on the beach in summer with their knitting bags beside them soaking up sun and talking our heads off while clickety clacking away. (I even had a male relative who knit, but that's another story.)

More than HOW we knitted, the big deal was WHAT we knitted, from early argyles to later norwegian patterned mittens and fisherman knit sweaters. Baby stuff, mohair lacy stuff with crystal buttons, and lotsa hats and scarves out of the scraps.

Hooray for knitting, I say. My mother kept a small knit "hanky" I made for her when I was just beginning to put the yarn over and pull it through. Wish I could add knitting to my handwork schedule. Can't right now...just way too full of bowls and paintings. But.... when I'm old (I'm going on 74)..when I'm old, I'll sit and knit. :)
Susan

Sari Grove
via faso.com
http://civa.org/ Michelle... This is Christians in the Visual Arts...Do what you are doing and continue to do so...Shame on you all for trying to give advice after she told her story...Don't change or censor a thing...You go girl...

mimi torchia boothby watercolors
via faso.com
@Sari
What are you talking about? Who are you talking to? Everyone who responded to Michelle's story was supporting her. Shame on YOU for not reading the goodness in the responses. And you don't have to be a christian to appreciate it.

Sari Grove
via faso.com
Really? There is no such thing as Christian art? She should not define her work as Christian? After a soft pedal about how some Christians make the others look bad? Really? Just another nice way of saying to tone it down, you may be making people uncomfortable, couched in a "supportive" message...Boo...

Susan Holland
via faso.com
I believe that when you are making original art, what is in you will naturally get "outed" in the work. By their works you will know them, the Word says.

If it's a sunset, or a Rock Star, your depiction, if you are painting your own individual expression, you will SAY your character in the painting. If people are curious, they will look at more of your art and maybe ask some quesitons. Soon they will get to "know you", and your convictions will naturally come out.

Have you studied the art of the famous Durer, whose praying hands are on display in a million homes? Study his work. Are all his paintings about prayer? Look at the anatomically expressive self portrait. Betcha a lot of people would take down their praying hands in horror.

Durer did his work honestly and passionately, and his devotion to his calling is obvious. The hands were those of someone who worked to support Durer while he made art. The essence of thankfulness is in that painting of the hands of a laborer praying.

I am convinced that what we write, what we paint, and what we say tells others more about our soul than any subject matter we are focusing on.

I am convinced that Christ in a person will make His presence known, and if His character is alive in the person, the essence of that will shine, unless pride, self-righteousness, and envy interfere.

I agree that there is no such thing as Christian art. Ecclesiastical art, certainly, and depictions of Christian themes. But Christ didn't come to save or identify with art. He came to save and identify with humans. May we all respond with our hearts...never mind the art...it will follow. Susan

Nicole Hyde
via faso.com
Brava, Susan. Well said.

Sari Grove
via faso.com
http://www.nuart.us/ Sorry, I stopped listening...I am over at the site of a Christian artist, looking at some beautiful Christian art...The surrealist works remind of Salvador Dali...Truly moving...

Susan Holland
via faso.com
The depictions of Christian themes on www.nuart.us are clearly the work of someone who is experiencing a deep dialog between an artist and the object of her beliefs, which are clearly Christian. And so devotedly done-- they are fine art!

A great example of the product reflecting the artist's character and focus.

The pictures hanging on a wall would speak volumes without any commentary or labeling.

Sari Grove
via faso.com
Yes, they would and they do...But sometimes the labelling and the commentary is as much for the viewer as it is for the artist, as a way of reminding even themselves of their own purpose...When I write my own labels or commentary, it is often then that my own vision becomes more solid for myself...But more importantly, here is a person who has been burned by criticism, and I feel it is more supportive in that case to be merely supportive and defend her than trying to appease the force who hurt her...She has presented herself as a Christian artist, let us just help her with that path, if that is the path she has chosen...Not the intellectual discussion, but standing up for someone who has been treated unfairly...

Susan Holland
via faso.com
The support of friends is always a good thing, Sari. I appreciate your good motives. Her art looks strong enough to withstand the buffeting that all art takes when displayed, doesn't it? Onward and upward! S










 

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