Critique is a valuable and useful resource for artists, writers, musicians–anyone in a creative field (and those outside of it too). Portfolio reviews help steer artists toward a more realized vision, just as Beta Readers do for an author. However, that only happens with constructive criticism. Negative criticism, whether mean-spirited or born from ignorance can have a devastating effect.
That might be an exaggeration, but in the heat of the moment I think most artists would agree, it feels as if you’re heart and soul have been crushed to a pulp. The pain is even more visceral when it’s someone close in your life. How does one deal with that?!
This happened to me yesterday. I’m not going to go into any details, what’s more important is how I worked through the hurt and got back to painting.
1. I didn’t respond in kind. Yes, their words hurt but chances are that wasn’t their intention. People can be clueless.
2. I had to acknowledge to myself that their words were not valid criticism. Their words were not meant to help me improve my painting.
3. I reached out to other artists and creative friends for support. Chances are your creative friends have been through similar situations. Support from your peers is priceless.
4. I let myself feel the pain and then reminded myself how much I love this painting. I thought back to the initial idea and sketches that sparked that zeal. I don’t expect everyone to love my art and that’s okay. I don’t create it for them.
5. Still feeling a little burned, I picked up my stylus and got back to work. I grew up riding horses for fun and competition. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been told, When you fall off a horse you have to get right back on. That’s been my motto all my life.
I can’t fully endorse this last one, but I do think it could help in the right circumstances…