Thursday, 4 February 2016

Does criticism of your art impede your creativity?

I've taken my talent for sketching and painting pretty much for granted over the years - some people can whistle and some can't, some people can sew and some can't - and I've never ever worried much about criticism. It doesn't really touch or affect me. There's two things that I believe - I believe that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that you can please some of the people some of the time, but not all the people all of the time. I often see art online or in galleries and fall totally in love with it and the next person looks at me as if I'm mad. I've also seen stuff that I think is pretty mediocre and a friend can't stop raving about it.

The same goes with my own art - something I think is really good and I'm quite chuffed with, will get no attention at all and another piece, that I sometimes feel is not worth even showing in public, gets rave reviews.

One inescapable truth of the art world is that, throughout your career, all kinds of people will say all kinds of things about your art whether they tell you to your face, write about it, make videos about it or blog about it.

Now here's the thing. Some artists have a habit of spontaneously asking people what they think of their art. Why an artist would even ask someone, hardly makes any sense to me in the first place. That question should be the one you ask yourself, not anybody else. Your art is ultimately all about you and your belief in what you're doing, regardless of what anyone else has to say. Just know that any time you ask people what they think of your art, you instantly put them in an awkward position and you open yourself to criticism you might not want to hear. In almost all cases what they'll tell you will not be what they think of your art, but rather what they think you'll want to hear -- which is usually that they like it. In other words, asking the question is basically pointless because you'll have no idea whether the answers you get will be honest or not, and no real way of finding that out. 

Don't let criticism get to you. Don't let it stunt or impede your creativity, your enjoyment of what you're doing. If you want to post your art online for everybody to see, develop a thick skin. That doesn't mean you ignore criticism totally - have an open mind and give it some thought, nobody is too old to learn something new and it could possibly make you a better artist. You should be willing to listen to what they have to say and see what you can potentially learn from it.

Don't take it personally. You need to find a safe distance from your creative work in order to not feel personally attacked when someone tells you they think your art stinks. But let's face it, it's very rare that someone will say that to your face (lol!), but on line it's a different matter. There are many people out there that are venomous and say nasty things just because they are nasty, so realise that it actually has nothing to do with you, but is their stuff.

People are going to criticize your creative work anyway, but that’s okay because your work will eventually define your audience. Those who like it will stick around and wait for you to create something else, while those who don’t like what you are doing, will wander off towards their next adventure. A big mistake would be to suddenly start painting dragons when, what you really like doing, is painting roses. Never create for anybody but yourself.
Elbert Hubbard said, "To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing." So you can either do nothing, be nothing and feel safe from criticism or you can stop looking to others for acknowledgement or approval, trust your instincts and enjoy doing your art.
- Some info from

"Keepers of the Sacred Law" - W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm - In memoriam to Coco, a Black Crow, whom I was lucky enough to have in my life for 20 years.



  1. Excellent advice!! I agree. Thanks for this wonderful blog Maree!

    1. aaah, thanks ever so much Liz, jy's 'n riem onder die hart! (het ek dit al voorheen gesê...? he he!)

  2. Replies
    1. Wow, thanks a lot Laura, appreciate that you like it!