There is nothing wrong with well-intended praise. It is something desirable. It makes us feel good about ourselves. Down deep, we can determine when the compliments are deserved. Often, we say, “Oh no, I don’t deserve that.” We may feel a bit embarassed and think “Why me?”
There is a discussion now among the political pundits about the suitable amount of tooting one’s own horn. We are discouraged from acknowledging praise and genuine achievement. (If not us, who will promote our work?)
Does praise motivate you?
What effect does criticism have?
There is critical evaluation and then there is criticism. Creative efforts can be stopped in their infancy from criticism. Comments like:
My child can do better.
If you want to waste the paint…
Have you ever read a novel? You have not lived enough to be a writer.
These types of statements can divert the person from a dream. Many times someone will say, “I cannot be an artist. I can not draw a straight line.” Wow. Where did this come from? Down deep there is a scar. Being an artist is so much more than drawing a straight line.
But criticism can be a kick start. At the end of my first oil painting class, the teacher said to me “Mrs. H, I have taught art 30 years and I have never, ever seen anyone paint like you.”
It was a kick to start me looking for answers. Could this be true? I knew that I was not unfairly criticized. My painting showed I was not even at the beginner’s level. There was something more in his statement. Was it a stopper?
Melrose, MA has a superb art section in its library. It was endowed by the widow of a local artist. The stipulation was that once a year, the artist’s work must be exhibited.
I was standing at the door when it opened. I used the kick to kick start learning and working as an artist.
I found Juan Gris used paint in one way that I did. He used almost no paint and left bare canvas in places. For what ever reason, it was reasuring.