|One of my first paintings. No need to critique. I realize I was (am) overly ambitious.|
A few years ago, I decided I would self-publish a little "adult" children's book and illustrate it myself. It was quite an ego trip, since I only knew how to draw stick figures and knew nothing about self-publishing. But, I decided to learn a little about illustrating and after some struggles I did publish the book. I was happy to complete a personal challenge.
As a reward from the gods of creativity, this small accomplishment led me to appreciate drawing and painting. I took up the hobby without grandiose aspirations, but rather as a way to keep me engaged in the present moment while learning/doing something that makes me happy. All of my family and most of my friends support me in my playful endeavor as well as in my more serious long lived interest in writing poetry.
However, a sweet, lovable and loving couple whom I respect have been less than enthusiastic. They have lived a story book romance which has enthralled me. I once wrote a poem to honor them and the quirks of fate that brought them together. Their reaction to the poem was lukewarm. Clearly, it displeased them. They also didn't like a painting I had on the wall. Admittedly, it was no masterpiece (just something I copied from Pinterest), but it was one of my first attempts. My confidence plummeted as they made jokes and laughed about it.
It makes me realize that not all negative criticism is expressed verbally or even intentionally but it can certainly be thoughtless and destructive. My friends are lovely people who would never hurt me. Yet, had my sensitivity been more fragile, I may have eliminated some activities from my life that are a huge part of my joy. Their reactions did not nourish or improve my work in any way.
The lesson for me, of course, is the value of lifting someone up, rather than bringing them down. Criticism can be honest while honesty can be kind.
(Magaly at Poets United prompts us to write an essay about criticism.)