Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Criticism, Critiquing, and Choices

I have been playing around with several new ideas lately. It is exciting and scary all at the same time. The new is filled with limitless potential I suppose. But is also on unsteady ground. We have not traveled this path before, and there seem to be more questions than answers. So many decisions and choices to make.

At some point, sharing the work with others can help clear out some of the confusion....sometimes. I am learning that not all audiences are equal. And in the end, your voice or vision is the one that makes the final choices.

I recently shared a few pieces with someone who is close to me, and yet, over the years, has shown she is not so certain about my choices in career, or that she shares my aesthetic. But my enthusiasm outpaced my judgement. The feedback was less than helpful or encouraging, and very vague. Knowing someone well means you can read between the lines much more easily. For two days I was annoyed by some of what was said, and it definitely started me questioning my direction.

After two days of funkiness, the reality of what had happened surfaced again. This person has never been a person who has the knowledge, experience, insight, etc. to be able to really offer a good critique. What did I expect from her? And was she capable of giving it to me? That was the real question to be answered. And when I was honest, the answer was no.

I took those same pieces, and a few other new ones to our Art Salon meeting this past weekend. And the areas that I felt unsure about were zeroed in on by several people. While it seems like this should make me feel more insecure about the work, their feedback gave me the insight I needed to make the pieces stronger. And they pointed out something that needed work that up until then I was just ignoring. They helped me see what I could not see. And they also shared with me what they liked, or dare I say, loved, about the work.

The feedback was broad and specific. It cover the positive and the negative. It was honest, but not brutal in any way shape or form. As I have begun to rework some of these pieces I am realizing the gift I have been given. Their insight will be with me as I move forward. There are several other voices I carry in my head. People who offered me an intelligent insight who have been able to help me strengthen my work. They have strengthened muscles in a way. The focus on a detail or aspect of my work that needed more attention.

So far, the changes have made a big difference. They did not give me solutions to the problems so much as help me see the direction I needed to work towards. They opened a door I did not see. Thanks, guys!


Molly said...

I think one of the hardest things to learn is which voice holds weight...both internal and external.

Some times our inner critic can be more gentle than a "friend".

Congrats on the New Directions!


Michelle said...

What a gift you have in your Art Salon members! I am convening a group later this month which I hope will serve the same purpose for its members. Any advice you can give as we begin will be very welcome.

Judy said...

I am so very lucky to have found this group. What makes the difference is the commitment of the group to showing up and being committed to the process and the group. Come prepared. Listen. Share. Celebrate one another's successes. And don't let someones challenges become their roadblocks.