This is a post on the value of listening to the opinions of others, especially that of gallery curators, directors, and owners. I was given a great opportunity to share my work with a very prestigious gallery and in the process of showing them my work, I was given the gift of hearing their opinion and critique of my work in person. I felt stripped and naked as they perused my paintings. It was not quite as uneasy as it sounds, in fact it was almost one of the greatest experiences in my life, once I got past the point of taking everything so personally. I got to hear what appeals to their clientele and why, valuable information for finding your place in the art world. I also got to hear how my work measured up to the standards of their clientele and of their gallery. You want to put your work in a gallery that will be a good fit, your work needs to stand on its own but also the work needs to be of the same maturity of the other work in the gallery and mesh well in mix of work. I also got to hear what they personally felt about my work, which was yet another insight in to the mind of someone else, all terribly valuable information to any artist. I found my message was resonating on levels that I had not known, and I was pleased with that; but I also was given the advice that a few pieces did not feel finished to them needed more work done on them. I was stunned at these words when I heard it at first; then on the drive home, I digested the comments over and over until I distilled them into good reference points to use in the future.
I paint from my mind’s eye and I do have a limited view of how it is perceived in the real world by others, unless you swallow your pride and you put your work up and let someone tell you honestly what they think is good, bad, or worse boring about your work, then you may never push yourself to go further. I don’t think I could have done this in the beginning of my art career, I remember tearfully the times anyone would negatively comment on my work and I would get my feelings bruised and put a wall up that protected my ego; but at the same time kept me captive within the borders of what I thought I knew about myself. Years later I find myself in a place that is ripe and waiting to hear what others think about my work. There is quite simply no greater gift to an artist than an opinion by someone that is unbiased, knowledgeable and truthful.
One of the pieces that I took with me, was Shadow Puppets, I was quite pleased with it, but that was not the opinion of group critique. I was unsure of myself at this point, they did not want this piece. What was so different about this one, how was it different than the ones they chose to keep? I brought it home, put it away, and tried not to think about it for awhile, but for the last month it has nagged me to revisit it. My first thought was to just take the painting as is and put it in one of my other galleries, afterall, perhaps they would not see the unfinish that this gallery saw, everyone has a different idea of things. In my heart I knew the truth was evident and I knew they were spot on in their opinion. I knew I needed to learn something from the opinions that I was given. I trust and value their opinions and I did not want to waste this opportunity, so once again, I put it on the easel. It looked foreign to me now for the first time, I was seeing it in a new light, a questioning light that would give me new ideas and insights, or so I hoped. I looked at it for awhile, then to keep from starting on it, I tooled around the studio, glancing back every so often to see if I could see the unfinish they so clearly could see. After a couple of hours of performing the avoidance dance around the painting, I backed my ears, I prepared my palette and jumped right back in as if the painting had never been wired for hanging. This was not without anguish, and not for the faint of heart, but if I lost it all, then perhaps it was meant to be. I always know when I face my easel, no matter how far along a painting is, there is always the opportunity to make it more, or to destroy it, so this would be no different. I like this uncertainty, it keeps me humble and honest with myself.
I approached it with these questions:
What do I want to say with this piece? It began as a bridge piece between two series of works, the Dark Alice and the Manipulation series. I am taking it more toward the Manipulation series in this update.
What is missing that will give this painting a more mature feel? In all honesty the painting seems to have a too slick appearance for me, it needs more texture to make the eye linger and want to stay in areas. The painting design as a whole is so simplistic, it begs for something to slow you down and make you want to stay. Texture is needed…
Why did I choose the original palette and does it need to change or be modified?
I chose the original palette because I am trying to make myself less reliant on hues and more on design. I like the palette and will keep it but modify some of the hues to add to the interest factor.
Do I need to give up and paint the whole painting over? Oh Lord, I hope not….that is almost like giving up and I am persistent if nothing else.
These questions led me to find my way to what I feel is becoming a more profound and definitely more polished piece. It is not completed but it is well on it’s way to being a contender for a place in a gallery. I will post the progress in future posts!
There is always the difficulty of finding finish in your work. I will on occasion walk through my house and see something that I think needs just a little tweak and off the wall it comes and the enhancements begin. I will not lie and say it always works as an improvement but I learn something every time I force myself to see my work with new eyes.
Maturity is gained with trials and errors, I sometimes think the greatest thing we can share is our failures and even a better share if we give the lesson of learning from them to others. Thanks for reading my blog and I hope it gives you courage to lay it on the line and give others the opportunity to see your work and in the process give you new found growth and strength in your work! Take care and Happy Happy New Year to Everyone!