When my daughter was about seven years old, she asked me one day what I did at work. I told her I worked at the college – that my job was to teach people how to draw. She stared back at me, incredulous, and said, You mean they forget? -Howard Ikemoto
That quote from Art and Fear (David Bayles & Ted Orland, The Image Continuum Press) comes to me each time I am around young children.
Most people feel uncomfortable about others looking at their work and making a judgement about the outcome of their efforts. We folks in the arts put our work out there and we expect feedback and hope that our efforts will be appreciated. The sweet visitor to my studio was our four-year-old grandson. He walked in with confidence and said, Whatcha working on? Need any help?
He watched me for a bit then as he walked around the studio he stared at a recent painting of a favorite lake. Do you want to touch it? I asked. His small fingers gently followed the lines of the trees. Then with a sure opinion he said, I like it. And he left the room.
Just for fun, or maybe because of a hidden slice of fear, I Googled how to critique artwork and sure enough a lot of important sounding stuff came up, not in four-year-old language, but the dreaded academia talk. The Google search discussion was informative and helpful but not the straight forward honesty of a four-year-old.
In Art and Fear, the authors discuss the role other people’s reaction to our art and how we proceed to on the creative path after critiques. Here is the gem paraphrase a reaction to criticism: when we the artists react negatively to casual critiques, we are giving others a lot of power over our work.
We have to continually evaluate our art at the time we are working in the studio. After a painting session we take an important few moments away from the studio then come back to the piece in progress with a fresh view. We might see it better if we had the eyes of a four-year-old.