The sinking in of good advice…..

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.

Shadow Puppets original by Cathy Hegman

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!

Shadow Puppets wip Cathy Hegman

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!

Cathy Hegman AWS,NWS,MSWS,MOWS, SAA,SW, ISAP
http://www.cathyhegman.com
*All artwork and text included in this blog is copyright protected by Cathy Hegman and should not be reproduced in any form or fashion or used without the written permission of Cathy Hegman. All text and artwork included in this blog are solely the thoughts and original art of the artist, Cathy Hegman, unless otherwise noted, and are meant only to be guidelines and thoughts for others to read.my blog.
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About Cathy S. Hegman

Art, much like a road links people together both visually and mentally. One can attain a glimpse inside the artist’s soul by studying the artist’s work, and perhaps find something that links them to the artist and the art. A work of art has the ability to resonate and touch the emotions without regard to age, gender, race, or religion through the application of pigment to canvas or paper. Art can be the voice that cries out without limits, or sometimes whispers the thoughts of the creator. Art speaks silently, yet conjures up feelings and gives satisfaction that is undeniable, and yet intrinsic. It validates our need to learn about ourselves, and gives us freedom to search for our own identities. The road is long and often dusty, but always renewing the spirit with inspiration. It is my hope in this lifetime to give a part of what I have learned through and on my journey with others. The deepest form of us is revealed in our thoughts and my art is the translation of my thoughts to paper and canvas. I paint layers of color and line to create a history of marks that will guide the viewer into my world of thought and engage them in the process. I embed personal symbols throughout my art to give it deeper meaning. I encourage you to think about life in a visual way and to contemplate our connections with each other and the world we share.
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8 Responses to The sinking in of good advice…..

  1. decorophile1 says:

    Kathy, This is one of the most profound and relevant blog posts I’ve ever read. The kind of critique you have received from the gallery is the only kind to value. There are only three people in my life who I can trust to be honest with their opinions, but none are in the position to know what people who sell art for a living should know. I’ve only had one teacher who I know was honest in her critique of my work. Nothing disappoints more than hearing the words, “It’s finished, perfect….” when I KNOW the piece needs something and I am begging for insight into what….
    And what painter does not understand your feelings in regard to approaching a work to improve it after thinking that it was finished. Scary. In this new year, I will hold close what you’ve shared here and try to be more persistent in my efforts to bring work to a state of completion and, dare I say, maturity. I’m looking forward to more of your insights in 2012!

  2. Every person’s response to an artwork comes from their own perspective and you obviously were able to evaluate the validity of their comments in relation to your work. I think it speaks to your maturity and self confidence that you were able to hear what they were saying without having it immobilize you. The painting (from my perspective) currently is very exciting and energized. You are brave, as it is beautiful!

    • Thank you Karen! You and I both know the value of a knowledgeable critique, I was so fortunate to have been given the chance to see my work with new eyes. Thank you for reading my blog and especially for taking the time to comment.

  3. Sharon Warren says:

    Hi Cathy,
    Love your works!!!!!!When and where are your workshops for 2012? I would love to have you come to Springfield, Missouri to teach but if not at least know where you will be teaching this year.
    Blessings,
    Sharon Warren

  4. I really enjoy seeing your work and reading your blogs. So many artist are afraid to “face” their work (Including me, sometimes). It is a rare thing to find someone who can really critique your work without bruising your ego a bit. I have had several artists who can not only critique my work in a very positive helpful way, but more importantly can and do offer very constructive advise. Keep on being so open and writing so clearly about how you feel and what you do about it. It helps all of us.
    Vaya con Dios,
    Delda Skinner

    • Thank you Delda! I am glad to hear my blogs are helping in some way! I believe we learn alot about our art if we talk, blog, or write about it. Critique is often a bit painful, but once I get past the initial ego sting, I can begin to process the words, and allow them to really move my work in a good direction. You are so nice to give me such nice feed back, it helps me to know I am helping others. You have made my day! Thank you for taking the time to read them and to comment.

      Take care,
      Cathy

  5. Pingback: Weight of Balance | Cathy Hegman Art and Life

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