Saturday, April 5, 2014

Pushing oneself forward or a swift boot to the keister

John Terwilliger, "Radiation", mixed media on hardboard, 14"x11", 2008
Recently I used the above picture to end a post in a forum discussion on internet trolls and rude posting.  The discussion was about critiques and the actual worth of any particular persons comments.  The individual the discussion was revolving around responded to my post by saying I should "push" myself and explore radiation instead of just using such an obvious symbol.  My response was to post four more radiation drawings from a series of Art Trading Cards I did.
John Terwilliger, "A Setting Hazard", colored pencil, 3.5"x2.5", 2009-06-16

For the individual responding this is a "safe" piece and the subject does not push boundaries.  This piece is from a series I was doing on standard safety/hazard symbols.  but the series is really about the material used in making the picture.  The picture above uses an industrial polymer, acrylic paint, as well as the charcoal and eraser debris from my studio floor adhered with spray adhesive.

The series also has experiments with sawdust, dirt, and other textured or colored stuff which could be attached.

John Terwilliger, "Handicap Accessible", mixed media on hardboard, 14"x11", 2009
I used a lot of sawdust in the series because it absorbs fluid pigment.  In "Handicap Accessible" the entire painting is textured with a sawdust and gesso mixture.  Gesso is a primer/base used by artists.  I have used it with sawdust on sculptural elements in the past mixed with sawdust as a filler to give it body and as an adhesive; here it is about the texture.

So when I receive unsolicited critique/advice on a picture should I concern myself?  I usually don't, especially when it seems very off base.  I stopped asking for critique of my work almost as soon as I left college.  I followed my own path while in college and found most critique unhelpful as most students didn't see where I was going.  I learned to listen intently to a few select individuals and my friends.

In college I found out while doing a research grant that the only people who respond to your work are ones with strong feelings towards it.  By respond I do not mean simply saying they like something.  People who really like something will talk about it, discuss what they like.

But more interesting are people who hate the work so much they feel they must rip you a new one.  What in the picture set them off?  This is of course assuming you actually have some talent/skill in your chosen medium.  In my research I used an anonymous questionnaire about the artwork I was presenting in a public space outside the large hall used for beginning psychology, a class of over 1000 students.  Most of the questionnaire responses fell into the I love it gushes or the I hate it I hate you category with a smattering in between.

So I say give me advice, tell me what you think.  I will be cordial.  But don't expect radical changes in my artwork or subject matter based on any one comment good or bad.  But feel free to try and make me explain myself.  Any conversation is better than silence.