It wasn’t necessarily an insult, but at the same time I wasn’t sure what it was supposed to mean. I’d just spent hours, days, even months completing five pieces of art work for the library. I matted and framed each one all by myself. What a labor of love! The library had accepted my work and hung it on the wall. There I was, admiring the efforts of the participating local artists, when out of the blue the librarian assistant gushed, “Out of all of the art on exhibit yours has the nicest frames.” Of course, being the polite person that I am, I thanked him for the compliment. I smiled, I laughed, I made small talk, but for the rest of the day I wondered what that statement said about my work. What did it mean to have the nicest frames? What about the paintings inside the frames? What did this say about me as an artist?
Criticism can be difficult to hear directly and also when it is given completely unintentionally. Sometimes, after careful consideration, criticism can be dismissed, but in this situation something about what the librarian assistant said rang true. I needed to reevaluate what I was doing and consciously look at my work with an objective eye. This is such an important skill to master. It’s helpful in so many life areas. It’s the only way to transform from acceptable to excellent. I can be a good mother, wife, friend, painter or citizen but how do I become an exceptional one? We are all works in progress striving for excellence. These brief encounters with people can give us insight into our own human development. We are given the opportunity to ask ourselves what next and then make some goals. I started learning new techniques and purchased better materials to work with. My paintings are making progress and my skills are improving. I am taking some risks and giving myself higher expectations. I haven’t yet achieved all I hope to achieve in painting or in life, but at this point it looks like I might be on my way to becoming an excellent framer.
Responding to criticism can be difficult in any type of work. Do you have any tips you’d like to share? Please leave a comment below. It doesn’t have to be art related, turning criticism into an opportunity for growth is a universal challenge!