*an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
In order to warm the artist’s heart, it’s necessary to assert that he is doing good work. Random or wrong-headed praise won’t do the trick, but will only exacerbate the artist’s feeling that he is unseen and misunderstood.
Even wrong-headed praise is the exception rather than the rule in the artist’s search for recognition. More often than not your recognition will consist of criticism, not praise. You may be criticized for not attempting work you have no desire to attempt, for pandering to mass taste, for working too exotically or too narrowly… You may be attacked in a mixed review that purports to praise you. In short, you may be criticized for everything and anything under the sun.
Can you escape this criticism as you struggle for recognition? No. The journalist Elbert Hubbard said, “To escape criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.” … you can’t escape criticism, you can’t tame your critics.
Eric Maisel in A Life in the Arts: Practical Guidance and Inspiration for Creative and performing Artists
Comments are welcome!
A: Usually a title suggests itself over the course of the months I spend on a painting. Sometimes it comes from a book I’m reading, from a piece of music, a film, bits of overheard conversation. A title can come from anywhere, but finding the best one is key. I like what Jean Cocteau says about this:
One title alone exists. It will be, so it is. Time conceals it from me. How discover it, concealed by a hundred others? I have to avoid the this, the that. Avoid the image. Avoid the descriptive and the undescriptive. Avoid the exact meaning and the inexact. The soft, the hard. Neither long nor short. Right to catch the eye, the ear, the mind. Simple to read and to remember. I had announced several. I had to repeat them twice and the journalists still got them wrong. My real title defies me. It enjoys its hiding place, like a child one keeps calling, and whom one believes drowned in the pond.
Once I have the best title, I make sure it fits the painting exactly. How I do that is difficult to explain. It’s an intuitive process that involves adjusting colors, shapes, and images so that they fit the painting’s meaning, i.e., the meaning hinted at by the title.
Comments are welcome!