From the Big House, to the Outhouse By Pete Myers

I found this very interesting.
So I would like to share

I would like to make a few suggestions for living a happier life as an artist, without the chains of criticism riding up one’s shorts and ruining one’s life adventure. Here are a few of my ideas:

ONE: The best “criticism” is NO CRITICISM. The best encouragement of fellow artists in understanding their work is when they have done something right, not what they have done wrong. Learning is experimental by nature. Our brains just keeps plugging away at all possible outcomes until something rings true to our internal comparator system that we have reached the right result. So much of art is in being able to visualize the “right outcome” before beginning the work. When artists have expressed feeling through their artwork, the recipient — the viewer — will be emotionally touched inside. When that happens, the artists need to know that their artwork “connected.” This is positive feedback and results in the artists understanding what connected with their viewer emotionally, based on the actions in their work.

I could hand almost anyone a camera, ask that individual to take few thousand photographs with it, and upon my viewing the results, I would find something that will yield an element of truth or beauty about the person taking the photos. While technique might be lacking in the photography, there is likely to be a basis of feeling in the images expressed by the photographer that will ring true in one or two photos.

As the proficiency of the photographer increases, the shooting ratio between mediocre and good photos narrows. Instead of looking for a needle in a haystack, viewers who feel “connected” with some images will find a feeling of connectedness with images to be more frequent.

Learning is non-linear. Just because this week a photographer is hard pressed to find his or her needle in the haystack does not mean that this situation will be true in the following week. Learning does occur in leaps and bounds — and always through experimentation. Hence, when the critic declares war on an artist, stops that artist’s experimentation in its infancy, and rules the artist’s work as unfit for viewing, the critic kills off all growth and learning — which is the critic’s intent.

TWO: Stop competing against others and yourself. Art is a metaphor for your own personal feelings. Are you supposed to “out-feel” someone else’s view of the world? I can assure you that people will find the genius of your own work through the feelings you have expressed through it. More artists would benefit from psychotherapy than from art school. Being true to your own feelings and able to express them through what you see is the key to successful art. Again, those who cannot do so become the most pointed critics of those who can.

THREE: Take your art out of the money mythology. Our world is in need of communicating one with another in terms of feelings. Feelings are difficult to express in words, ever worse in translation from one language to another. As the world gets smaller, we have greater and greater need to share with each other what it is to be whom we are inside. That is the roll of art in society. That is what we do as artists.

To illustrate, an “art consultant” recently approached me in regard to my own artwork. She wanted to “re-package” my work to be “more successful in the fine art market with collectors.” In a nutshell, I was supposed to create an illusion that my works of art were scarce, fleeting, and of unlimited escalating monetary value — the dream of “art collectors.” It was amazing to me to find an art consultant without interest in the artwork itself, but rather just in the illusion it would generate as a commodity.

The world is vast and bountiful. If your works of art deliver meaning to their viewers, I can promise you that good things will follow. In what form that will show up in your life is uncertain. Do not make judgments about your own work or those of others through the glasses of our money mythology — It will not work.

FOUR: As you start to find peace in your accomplishments as an artist, go out of your way to foster such feelings in other artists. Surprisingly, many artists will not take to your encouragement — compliments acting like seeds in infertile soil. But there is so much talent that is only in need of simple encouragement. See the beauty once again through their eyes, and not be selfish enough to think that it’s only something you can see yourself. In giving, we receive more then we give—a chance to look anew.

I know of artists who refuse to comment at all upon other artists’ works. While not criticizing, they certainly do not encourage. “Sitting on the fence” is a form of passive censorship. Saying an encouraging word is not false, but should be viewed as a positive response to the level of accomplishment that is before the viewer today. The idea that everyone’s efforts must be viewed on an absolute basis is absurd, and is simply a byproduct of our culture’s obsession for viewing actions with extremes (black-and-white rationale). Those who cannot comment with care and enthusiasm upon another’s works are likely “blocked” in their own path as artists.

FIVE: Get away from critics and criticism at any cost. Whether the critics are friends, family members, or the most learned advisor, criticism is not what you need in your life. You need to celebrate the benevolence of what you’re feeling, seeing, and can express through your art. The only ugly art I ever see is that which has been made as a “product” and not as a “feeling.” Your work, my work, their work — It’s the same work. But none of us has the same feelings inside. That is the gold. Get your feelings into your artwork, and get away from those who want to stifle that process by offering their “friendly criticism.”

The Myers Certainty Principle of Photography states:

The closer your heart is to your subject, and the shorter the exposure, the more certain you will be in capturing its essence in the brief, fleeting moment we call “feeling.”

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