Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What Getting A Speeding Ticket And Art Critics Have In Common

The Traveling Artist recently put her camera in the car to visit an old friend. North Carolina and Virginia had just gotten some snow and I was already anticipating the joy of coming around the corner on one of the back roads to see a cow in the snow, I was going to pull over and capture a shot. I did not anticipate pulling over for anything else. I had to begin the trip by taking the highway and I got behind a large truck throwing bits of debris, deep in thought about art  at first I just trudged along behind it. When I decided to pass I gunned the engine and pulled into the left lane only to look up and see flashing blue lights behind me. What was my reaction? I was not surprised, or angry, and my heart did not change a beat -I thought to myself, " Hum, I am curious what I did besides pass this truck."  I know you do not believe me but you will have to take my word for it. I got around the truck and pulled over into the right lane and was pulling onto the shoulder when the flashing blue lights whipped on past. I pulled back on to the road and continued my thoughts about art, but policemen and tickets interfered. Why was I not afraid I was about to get a ticket, or relieved when I did not? I think it is because I know that receiving correction is good for a person. I try hard to see life as learning, even if it is from a policeman telling me he found something I did that deserved punishment. Even if I do not understand another persons reasons or interpretation of a situation I still celebrate honesty and correction. A policeman is not going to preface his words with    "Well I think you may have been.. or maybe you should have", no he is going to get right to the point and I like that.  I think an artist has to learn  to accept  judgement and to refrain from being defensive in order to grow. You can only get peace with your painting and your life until you are able to accept criticism and instruction.  It is not enough to say to yourself, well that is your opinion when someone looks at your art and gives an honest appraisal, instead you must get to the place of being able to take a fresh look at it from their eyes. You do not have to change it,  although I have found that when I try what ever it is the person has told me, more often than not- it was just what I needed to do. When I can not do the suggested correction in my experience it is  good  to put that information, instruction or opinion into my"things to think about " file. When you are able to approach life that way it makes it so much more interesting to ask another - So tell me what you think honestly . As they give me their advice I try hard not to think of my own reasons or explanations of why I am doing what I am doingOnce people realize you are willing to learn and value their opinion you can grow and learn so much faster. This is fun to do with strangers, but is especially rewarding in relationships with people you trust and value, and this approach works with so much more than art. Trust me.

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