Criticism: who needs it?
The March 2006 copy of ‘the Artist’ carried a depressing letter from a man who endured devastating criticism of his painting at a local Art Society meeting. The experience completely destroyed his confidence.
I cannot understand why amateur Art Societies persist in holding criticism evenings; in my experience they achieve very little. What usually happens on these occasions is that several members chip in with often contrary opinions and anyone looking for consistent constructive advice rarely gets it. The situation that exists in a well run class or workshop where the tutor offers advice and comment on a one to one basis is far more helpful.
Interestingly the correspondent described the friendliness and willingness to share ideas that existed in the Dunedin Art Society in New Zealand in the 1960’s. I can verify that the same spirit prevails in the new millennium. I’ve made three visits to New Zealand and met members of Art Societies in Dunedin, Taupo and Thames. Sometimes I ‘gatecrashed’ unannounced but I always had a warm welcome. They were interested to see how a Pom with an English watercolour style handled the strange young evolving landforms of their country.
Once attuned to the excitement aroused by what your eye likes painting comes naturally. A more experienced and sympathetic painter occasionally looking over your shoulder to nudge you in an appropriate direction is all you need. Criticism given in a room full of people which makes you colour with embarrassment – you don’t need it.