We need good criticism to help us grow. It’s a bit like when you give your potted plants just the right dose of fertilizer to make them flourish and bloom. But we need to be careful because too much fertilizer, or the wrong type, can kill. I think criticism can be like that. So, how do we give criticism so that it’s helpful and not harmful?
This is a delicate question.
When I first started painting and posting on DMP over six years ago, it took
some courage to post my first few paintings. I had a rather thin skin. But I
was desperate for advice from more experienced artists on what I could do to
improve. Most DMP members were (and still are) extremely kind and helpful and I owe them a debt of gratitude. Unfortunately,
there were a couple back then who were downright rude and seemed hell bent on
being hurtful to beginners. They are no longer here, thank goodness, but they
almost made me quit painting. They had no reason to be so cruel to beginners –
except for the fun of it, I guess.
Whilst comments designed deliberately to offend, or just plain rudeness, are never ok, the question of how to criticize is a delicate one because it’s hard to know how honest to be and how to frame one’s comments so that they are unlikely to cause offence, but will still be helpful. I am very occasionally so unsure about what to say in response to a painting that has been posted that I say nothing. But posting a painting and getting nothing back but silence is perhaps the most devastating criticism of all, so I try not to do that.
What is your approach to giving criticism and what has been the most/least helpful style of criticism for you?