Cooler than Warm, 11x14 inches, Pastel, ©Lynn Goldstein $650
Do you like receiving criticism? I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that your answer is no. None of us likes to be criticized.
Years ago, my son asked me what my least favorite thing about college was. I told him critiques. You see, my professors were scandalously brutal. At times, artwork that was labored over for countless hours was destroyed (literally) in front of the class. YIKES!
I don't know what changed, but as I have gotten older, I listen very carefully when someone has a negative thing to say about my artwork, teaching, even my personality. As a result, I have come to realize that a tip for being a better artist, and even a better person, is to listen intently when someone gives me the gift of criticism. How do you accept when someone is telling you something you may not want to hear? Take a look at the following ideas to help you do just that:
1. Try your best to simply listen without thinking of a defense or taking offense
When we are not trying to come up with a response, we are better able to hear what is being said, and more likely to take something away that is positive.
2. Consider the source
When I was younger I heard all criticism and tried to give each opinion equal consideration. I was trying to be fair in my assessments. This approach just led to confusion and self-doubt. I have learned that there is limited time (and energy) to do that, so I am judicious about whose opinions will be considered useful.
3. Ask for exactly what you want to know
This works great when wanting to ascertain if your artwork is where you want it to be. For example, rather than asking, "Do you like this, or what do you think?" be specific. Instead ask, "Is there something that you would do in this section of the artwork that will make it stronger?"
Since hearing potentially negative things about ourselves and our art can be so difficult, I am wondering if you have insights on how to take that constructive criticism and use it for art or self- improvement? Please share your tips in the comments below.
Spotlight, 14x11 inches, pastel, ©Lynn Goldstein $650
Plein Air with Benefits, 9 x 12, pastel, ©Lynn Goldstein