Surviving Art School and Constructive Criticism

Cartoon self portrait of me at art school in the 80’s!

 

 

One of the things you learn at art school is how to survive constructive criticism and turn a negative into a positive, a creative solution!

 

This is why for many art school is an ‘abusive’ environment and many art school graduates never paint again. Or give up for years … It is a challenging path!

 

At art school in the 80’s you were ‘deconstructed’, but the tutors often forgot to ‘reconstruct’ you at the end of the process. (My Alexander Technique teacher training later did that for me!)

 

However, artists become creative thinkers because of the rigours of constructive criticism. ¬†They look for alternatives, they become truth seekers, they can turn a heap of junk into something beautiful. They look beyond the ‘hurtful’ words and move forward. You learn to stop taking criticism personally and carve out a new path.

 

So, you are sitting at your easel and a tutor creeps up behind you and says stuff like

 

  • That’s not good enough
  • Have you considered doing it another way
  • Rip it up and start again! (a classic 80’s anthem from the band Orange Juice)
  • The proportions are all wrong
  • It’s too tight, unexpressive, muddy …
  • It’s derivative, find your own style
  • You will never make it as an artist
  • Or just puff a bit of fag smoke over you and walk away ….

 

You feel anger, annoyance, despair, disheartened, but you never give up. Somehow in this clumsy but honest process the brain starts to seek new solutions, creativity is hatched. Determination is born. A ‘fuck it’ attitude of ‘I am doing it anyway’ starts to emerge. ¬†‘I am going to trust my own process’, develops inside you.

 

Art is not ‘wanky’ as I was recently informed, but an intense road to self discovery that demands vulnerability, determination and guts. Finding creative solutions to sticky problems and disagreement is what you are trained to do. A development of your creative brain in order to survive the assault course of constructive criticism that is art school. The constructive criticism is not personal – it is another artists attempt to get you to think by challenging your perspective. Being good at art is not the most important thing to be an artist, developing the ‘fuck it there must be a way to do this’ attitude probably is!

 

Any one think creative solutions might be useful right now?

 

Perhaps one day artists will not be seen as ‘self indulgent’ and ‘mad’ but having something out of the ordinary to say …

 

May artists rule the world!

 

Check out my free creativity e-course link below

 

Feel free to come and give me your constructive criticism at my up coming exhibition ‘Sea and the City’ with Jennifer Court at the Dundas Gallery, 6 Dundas Gallery, Edinburgh 26 – 30 April 2017 10 – 6 pm

 

Forward and Up!

Love Kirsten

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