Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Dealing with Negative Critique

'Sanibel's Treasure'                   10x15         pastel         ©Karen Margulis
available for purchase $155
It's been on my mind lately. Maybe because of the post I wrote about getting feedback on our work. Then today a student asked why I don't paint the beach more often. Good question.  It used to be my most favorite subject to paint. When I first started with pastels most of my subjects were beach related...shells, shore birds and palm trees. I will still paint them occasionally but I am more interested in landscapes.... marshes, deserts and wildflowers and I am always most drawn to the close ups.  Why the shift?

It partly has to do with some feedback I received at a workshop early in my painting journey. During the critique I shared my 'beach' paintings along with the plein air landscapes done at the workshop.  The instructor suggested I go to the beach to relax (not paint the beach)  and to concentrate on intimate landscapes.  I rebelled at first and kept on painting the beach.   I was such a beginner with thin skin that the feedback hurt. After all I had worked hard at my beach paintings. I took this critique as negative.

But gradually it became clear to me that my passion was truly for the intimate landscape. It was if this instructor knew it even before I did!  It wasn't really negative feedback. I just wasn't ready to understand what the instructor meant.

'Pacific Shores'         5x7       pastel
I now welcome all feedback. I may perceive it as negative or it may not be delivered gently but I always make sure I don't dismiss it too quickly.  I write it down. I try to see if there is a kernel of truth to it. I put my feelings aside.  If I don't quite agree or get what the instructor was saying, I move on.  Maybe someday I will get it or maybe it wasn't valid. The important thing is that I gave it a chance and I don't let it slow me down!

I don't avoid painting the beach anymore either.

If you'd like to see some of my old beach paintings visit my blog archives here. It is fun to revisit these older paintings! 


Carole Scureman said...

I love this beach painting. I am going to go look at your archives. Frankly I love all of your paintings. They are beautiful.

Rodrica Tilley said...

Love the beach paintings. Your perspective on thin skins and negative feedback really struck a chord with me. Developing a thick skin along with an open mind is really a necessity for success in art as well as life, isn't it.