Sunday, May 16, 2010

find your tribe

A visiting critic recently addressed the difficult position the visual artist is in. The artist pours the internal and intensely personal into a work then puts that work on public view. The artist knows full well, that their inner life is now not only exposed, but open to criticism. Muddling through the decisions that eventually get a work up on a wall can be daunting. Ultimately, the decisions made in the studio are made alone, but any artist will benefit from the counsel of a close circle of confidants that really know you, and that are engaged in the same endeavor. My advice? Find your Tribe.

It’s beneficial if the members of your tribe work in a like medium. Every material possesses a unique set of qualities and problems.  Understanding these cuts down on demands that cannot be achieved within that particular medium. In addition, the members of your tribe should be as good or better than you. This raises your personal bar sand engenders better work.

It’s helpful if your tribe is made of friends and confidants. You establish a mutual trust. Critics too, put themselves in a vulnerable place. A trusted confidant is more likely to offer substantive criticism when there is no fear of reprisal. They know you, your concerns, and what you are attempting to accomplish.

Your Tribe should take you somewhat seriously. I amplify somewhat. You need some one to let the hot air out of your high and mighty balloon when it becomes too inflated.

Inevitably your tribe cracks the whip, breaks the rules, and rubs your temples. They are your thicker skin. I am grateful to have met the handful of painters that I think of as my Tribe. Thanks for the push and the pull. Now, let’s go out in the world and paint.

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