If You Don’t Give Yourself a Break, Who Will?

4 Oct

“Be your own best friend. And while our closest friends are free to tell us when we’re being stubborn, or obstinate, or heading down the wrong path, they also assure us that we’re smart, likable, hardworking, and fun to be with.

“Most of us are really good at reminding ourselves of all our shortcomings, but we rarely take time to point out — to ourselves — our positive attributes. If we can do it for another person, we can do it for ourselves as well.”

From the Start Your Week with Steve Newsletter, a free weekly e-mail from Steve Henderson Fine Art

As an artist, it’s good to know how to critique yourself — and that’s the key element: HOW to critique yourself.

This type of sentence doesn’t work: “What a lousy painting. I’ll never know how to do this right.”

And quite frankly, that’s not critique so much as it is self-evisceration. You’d never say this to a friend, and probably not even to an enemy, at least not to his or her face, so why attack yourself with it?

On the opposite spectrum, this also is not valid critique: “I am so amazing! Everything I produce is so significantly superior to what I see out there that I don’t understand why I’m not artist-in-residence on the Oprah network.”

One word: arrogance.

While it’s good to be confident, arrogance is confidence on steroids, and it’ll wind up eventually bringing you down.

So, the best thing to try for is something in between the extremes, which applies to pretty much anything in life. Look at your work — closely — and try to define what it is about a particular piece that you like and don’t like, and why. While this may be difficult if you’ve never really done it before, it gets easier with practice.

And, since you’re doing this for yourself, it’s not as if you were crafting an English 101 essay, to be returned with red marks throughout for all of the aspects you “missed.” You’re doing this for yourself, for the betterment of your art, and for the increased ability to view, analyze, and critique your own work. You’re the judge.

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One Response to “If You Don’t Give Yourself a Break, Who Will?”

  1. thoughtsontheatre October 4, 2012 at 9:45 pm #

    Fantastically said! Great reminder to strike that balance and be kind to ourselves.

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