The Path through Criticism

The words that enlighten the soul are more precious than jewels.” Hazrat Inayat Khan


I am not sure how far I will get with this post this morning, yesterday late morning I experienced a major sugar crash, that weakened me, caused me to be irritable beyond even wanted to be around myself. I went off to bed at 8 pm to read and just be alone, and fell asleep in less than an hour, woke about 10, read until 1, slept again until 6 am, read some more and got up at 7:30 am. Still feeling a bit shaken and stirred, I was still noticing a bit of lethargy, and easy irritability . Trying to correct my food intake, drinking water to cleanse, setting my intentions to heal and go through this experience as best I can.

Nothing holds my interest long, making dinner last night was a struggle, I was having moments of silent screams, knowing I wanted to just give up. Made dinner of Brazed Cabbage Slaw and veggie hot dogs, and come to find out that the dogs where for the weekend. Who knew? I commented to my sister we can always get more, she left the room, I was not told about the weekend plans for the hot dogs, I have not been told about 4th of July plans at all. My brother and sister-in-law for the past many years have had a July 4th party at their house, yet is seems to have been shifted to Lauren’s their daughters from what I understand? I suppose I am to assume that is what is happening.

on the edge

One of the things around our family is the lack of communication, one person does not inform the other, yet can usually discovered through conversations or assumptions that such and such a thing is happening… makes for a tricky guessing game of communications.

I did spend some time of Redbubble yesterday submitting new photographs, viewing others art and commenting. I had not done that is sometime. It seems I had lost a bit of interest in all that, viewing and commenting, keeping track of responses and comments from others. I do have regular commitment to Candid Photography Group to moderate the submitted photos, at least once a day, and to select featured work every other week, this week was my week. Selecting the featured works is always a very active creative tool to pull my interest in a direction that I don’t always travel. I find some amazing creative thought-provoking candid work, that inspires, causes me to stop and truly look to see what I am seeing. To candid work is stepping out of the comfort zone, in many ways invading others boundaries, if being and doing things in public is not wide open boundaries? There is a mystery, and a provocative atmosphere to shooting candid’s, one that excites me and frightens me, yet energizes as well!

Where am I in week 3 of the Artist’s Way “Recovering the Sense of Power” ? I have work to do but not sure where to begin. Yet beginning by writing about not knowing and asking is reclaiming some power. Part of this chapter it claiming and keeping our power with being offered criticism for our work and Julie Cameron offers some good advise writing that “Pointed criticism, if accurate, often gives the artist the inner sense of relief: ‘Ah hah! so that’s what was wrong with it.’ Useful criticism ultimately leaves us with one more puzzle piece for our work.”

Since I am embarking on the William Way Center Gallery prize show exhibit being prepared for criticism will be a useful tool. For I have not been in this type of exposure with my work before it is thrilling, exciting, as well as a bit frightening to place the work out there, place my name and face in a bigger venue that I have had my work exposed too.

in the light

I have much work to do before getting this work exhibited, I still have to choose the photographs to display. Check frames and mats that I have already, have new work printed, backed, matted and framed.  So my path is laid before me in the next 10 days….

Here are the “rules of the road” useful in dealing with criticism:

  1. Receive the criticism all the way through and get over with it.
  2. Jot down notes to yourself on what concepts or phrases bother you.
  3. Jot down notes on what concepts or phrases seem useful.
  4. Do something very nurturing for yourself-read an old good review or recall a compliment.
  5. Remember that even if you have made a truly rotten piece of art, it may be necessary stepping stone to your next work. Art matures spasmodically and requires ugly-duckling growth stages.
  6. Look at the criticism again. Does it remind your any criticism from your past–particularly shaming childhood criticism? Acknowledge to yourself that the current criticism it triggering grief over long-standing wound.
  7. Write a letter to the critic– not to be mailed, most probably. Defend your work and acknowledge what is helpful, if anything, in the criticism proffered.
  8. Get back on the horse. Make immediate commitment to do something creative.
  9. Do it. Creativity is the only cure for Criticism.

Writing these rules of the road for criticism allows for a deeper acknowledgement of the process of journeying down this path of creativity. I allows me to be in charge, to own my own power, to respond rather then react. To create rather the destroy.

To my surprise the reception announcement was on the William Way Center Newsletter I received this morning!

Opening Reception Friday, July 16, 8:00 PM

Running July 12, 2010 – August 27, 2010

Join us for the opening night reception for the three winners of the 5th Annual Juried Art Competition!  This unique group show features beautiful digital works as well as works using printmaking as a technique.
Kathy McLean’s black and white photographic images remind us of the implicit beauty in the mundane using light to selectively illuminate her figures.  Elke Mueller’s works are diverse, including photographic images as well as linotype prints, both colorful and subtle.  Jeff Stroud’s photographic work includes everything from Philadelphia street scenes to radical fairies in jubilation.
This show demonstrates the breadth of work and talents of local LGBT artists and is not to be missed!  The opening reception features free wine and cheese as well as great conversation and mingling!
Call the front desk at 215-732-2220 or email with questions about this fabulous show and opening reception!

Growth Question: Do you have ways that you hand criticism that may differ from the above rule of the road suggestions and if so please share them?

I am Love, Jeff


5 thoughts on “The Path through Criticism”

  1. Jeff – The photographs in the post are captivating. Each of them spoke to me in their own way.

    It’s hard to communicate when people don’t talk — clearly — isn’t it?! When we’re left to assume, we get it wrong 50% of the time. The sharp side of that blade never feels good.

    I’m excited for your up-and-coming exhibit! I hope you’ll capture some of it with your camera and share it with us in your blog.

    Growth Questions: Do you have ways that you handle criticism that may differ from the above rules of the road suggestions?

    I ask myself WHY (specifically) it hurts (or makes me angry, or evokes a negative response). When I can pinpoint the exact reason, it’s usually because there’s an element of truth in it.

    1. Laurie,

      I am thrilled the photographs spoke to you in some way! Funny how your next line was about communication, silent communication in a sense. Where photographs spoke a language, yet people could not communicate their wants and desires.

      I will do my best to capture the exhibit/reception on July 16th and than of course share it here with you!

      Thanks for you response to the growth Q! Yes I think you are correct why it hurts,etc is a good place to start to unravel the criticism to get at the truth.

      I am Love, Jeff

  2. Hi, Jeff. Your description of the “sugar” crash and the subsequent irritability, feelings of being “shaken and stirred” (oh shades of James Bond!) made me think of how when we are changing and growing, some of our old ways of being don’t just disappear. Sometimes they are remodeled to fit our new way of being. Others have to be dismantled, or imploded (that was the image that came to my mind while I was reading your experience). And I have lived the “read my mind” experience with others! That’s how I learned to communicate, too, unfortunately, and have been dismantling that habit for the past 30 years. But, I still fall into the idea that everyone is thinking the way I am so life will go accordingly.

    I think criticism originates in a person’s self-centered view of how something should be and when that something is not the way that person believes it should be, the words that person used are essentially saying “you did not meet my expectations.” Criticism is all about the criticizer. None of it is about you or your work. Now, if I am being asked to prepare something for another person — for example, write something, then that writing needs to meet that person’s expectations, and fit their need.

    For the most part, when someone criticizes me, I consider the source and, like Laurie says above, any elements of truth in their words.

    1. Barbara K,

      I like your take on my “sugar” crash, as well as the effects of change. Whether incorporated to be used as a tool to accomplish new Being or being dismantled or recycled. Cool.
      Thing is I make dinner every night for the family so communicating to me about an item could be important, of course there are family events and such that I find out about at the last moment as if I where a stranger in the house, and then expected to show up.

      Well you may be correct in criticism being the view of another! Yet placing our work out there in public offers the forum to be critiqued. Good or bad. So learning to hold our own, allowing the words to inform, enlighten, and create change if need be. Can be a useful tool of self examination. Used in out world as “feedback”.

      I am Love, Jeff

      1. I know putting your work “out there” invites critiques and you are so brave to meet that force dead-on. I am not so worthy. I still think it is all about them and their view of what they think the piece of work should be. But I am even that way about my tennis game. If someone comes up to me after watching me play and offers “suggestions” on what they think is wrong with my game, I just hand them my racquet and say, “Fine. You go play that way.” ho-ho-ho!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s