It has been over a week since the opening and we are finally home after our big European adventure (sigh). As I think about the opening I can’t help but recall a very open gentleman who confidently told me he didn’t like my work.
Being an artist is an interesting occupation for a sensitive soul, which most artists are (not that I wish to generalise). I’ve often been called sensitive, like it was a bad word, yet over the years I’ve grown a thick skin to negative comments.
I am still human however and negativity in any form is challenging but these days I try not to dwell on it. I believe, what we think about is who we become.
Both school and art school prepared me for criticism. Every other day at university we would have group critiques (crits) about our work by peers and academics. Students would stand in front of their work, explain it, and then wait for a response by the group. More often than not it wasn't pleasant.
These days I feel if I get any reaction, I have achieved something. At least the viewer hasn’t simply walked past without looking or feeling.
This forthright gentleman proceeded to tell me that he didn’t like any ‘aggressive’ art both visual and music. He didn’t like my landscapes as he found them ‘disturbing’. He said “I do buy art but it is gentle and soft. I also play gentle classical music at home too”.
I stood there in interest as he spoke about his passion for art. I decided at that moment not to get offended but listened earnestly waiting for his reason.
And to his defence, he had a good one. This colourful, larger than life man, worked in a prison. He wanted a calm environment when he returned home from work.
For me, I like work which is enthusiastic and thought provoking. For example Turner’s tumultuous skies or Auerbach’s haunting portraits.
When I create work, I listen to passionate music (currently on my play-list is Florence & The Machine, Kasabian and The National). I move quickly and earnestly with my pastel or brush. There is a kind of alchemy taking place between me, my brush/pastel and subject. It is very physical working this way, often I am standing up moving around the canvas or paper. My work is therefore energetic; not aggressive but passionate. I am also painting an Australian landscape. It isn't soft and delicate but harsh and dangerous at times (especially when painting outside).
So I thank him for his candour. It was constructive criticism.
I feel like I’ve achieved a goal with my work.
Please feel free to like and comment below.
Yours in art,
“Various Storms and Saints; paintings and drawings from Hunter Valley, Australia and Tuscany, Italy” is currently showing at Galerie Belimage, Switzerland.
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