Recently I submitted my work into a juried online exhibition at the prompting of my friend and mentor, Sara Genn. Who had told me it was time for this next step in my journey. I received my submission review and immediately I shared it with her. I have always been terrified about sharing my work, as most artists are, she assured me.
The review did not have any major critique to it-- to my surprise (oh, the perfectionist in me), I realised how much of an impact that had on me emotionally. I've received many forms of feedback over the years from fellow artists, mentors, friends and the public. The review was calm, simple but congratulated me on the work I had done, noting the drama and the worlds I created in my more recent images.
Sara asked me first "What do YOU think about his/her feedback? Do you agree or disagree? How does it make you feel?"
She didn't know that as she was typing that question I was having a bit of a miniature panic attack on the other side of the keyboard. Firstly, not expecting a review so soon after submission but also, the outcome of the review. I can take critiques and criticism and let it roll off me like water on a duck. The panic ensued-- I believe-- from the reality of me taking the next big steps in my career. The next steps are putting myself in front of qualified audiences and that terrified me to bits. The art gallery world. My dream world. The path I had decided to pursue and here I was, pursuing it not just in my mind but in my actual life.
Sara gave me the most beautiful advice:
"I really appreciate what this person said but I also would take it as one person's opinion and they are not you -- YOU are the artist and YOUR vision and explorations are ALL valuable and yours. You should always be your own worst critic -- you will always know what is your best and 'weaker' work. This more 'challenging' work is absolutely necessary and valuable to explore and try to make clearer and improve upon. All critics/curators/jurors/dealer -- (notice: non-artists) will have a 'taste' opinion and come from their own context/issues/point of view; so always keep that in mind and stay true to your path/vision and yourself."
Stay true to my path. Pursue my work daily and create a momentum to build upon. Each critique is just one person's opinion and that person is not you. Use their words, grow and apply what is important and then, continue building your vision.
Thank you Sara.
If anyone would like more of Sara's brilliant advice you can read her Twice-Weekly Letters on The Painter's Keys. The Painter's Keys was started by her father and painter, Robert Genn (1936 - 2014). Since 2013, Sara Genn has been writing and sharing her wisdom alongside her father's Letters, building the largest community of artists. Giving tips on variety of artistic mediums, historical knowledge and philosophical wisdom that can assist in any artist's journey. I encourage you to check it out.