Thursday, February 17, 2011

Idol Worship

     Well, the best part has passed.  My favorite part of American Idol is watching the privileged, coddled ninnies being told they can’t sing.  We’ve discussed this point before, but it bears repeating.  If you can’t self-critique your own craft, you’re doomed to a career of mediocrity.
     The scenarios are all generally the same:  a clueless 15-year-old steps up to the mike, with years of Mom telling them they have some kind of gift.  After falling flat and being told, “singing isn’t your thing”, the 15-year-old begs, whines, stammers, lashes out and then runs crying to Mommy.  And so, where does that leave them?

Norman Rockwell's Art Critic 

     I personally feel being able to self-critique is the strongest fundamental act that we as artists can engage in.  Think about it.  The very nature of painting and drawing requires a constant scrutiny of the process.  Is this the right color note?  Am I putting it in the right place?  Is this the shape I’m seeing in my subject?  The very process of creating is a series of self-critiques.
     The culmination of all these previous critiques is a finished painting, which itself will receive scrutiny.  What can we do as artists to perpetuate quality?  For one thing, we can have a strong group of honest peers who are interested in furthering our craft with their advice and instruction.  Let them speak honestly about your efforts and leave your ego at the door.
     But the real power we possess is our own honesty.  When that small, still voice says it’s garbage and you know in your heart it is, then start the process of evaluating your work.   Is it a drawing problem?  Is the color wrong (value, hue, chroma)?
     By asking these questions, we can find where we strayed and fix the problem.  Painting is nothing more than correcting a series of mistakes until there is nothing left to fix.



  1. Indeed, I was just commenting on this very topic moments ago on another group I frequent. I had put out a rough sketch and had a critic from a good friend and other friends sort of lashed out in my defense. But when all is said and done, I was not offended, I welcomed it. We need to be able to take those critics as people with an eye for detail can help even those of us who think they are above needing help. You can be surprised just how much outside input can help a weak or shaky start.

  2. You get it, David! That's why I say you need to be able to check your ego at the door. If you are unwilling to receive criticism, you limit your chances for growth. And as artists, it's all about developing and maturing our talent.