Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Question of the Day

Soft Curves, 2007, Oil on Birch Panel, 16x20

Nat asked me an interesting question the other day in my comments section.

Does reading someone else's interpretation of your work change how you would think about it or talk about it?

I had a flip response ready (No, because no one ever writes about me, excepting these critiques of course.) but decided to hold off responding for a bit. And so for the last few days I have been thinking about whether I am, would be, or should be influenced by other's interpretations of my paintings.

I guess I could change how I think or especially, how I talk about my work because of a critique. And maybe I should, especially in some cases when the observations are incredibly perceptive. I certainly struggle with talking and describing my work in an in depth manner, mostly because I work so instinctively, so it sure would be nice to have some help. AND some new words.

Unfortunately though, those words and interpretations wouldn't be mine. They wouldn't be from my heart and I suspect they would not ring true if I were to say them. And I have to make a real effort NOT to think of what a reviewer may have said or will say, good or bad, while I am actually working or that will really throw me off and out of my zone.

So I guess the answer is a reluctant no.

BUT, the whole review/critique thing does give me some added confidence, at least if it's positive. If it were negative I would buck up and work harder. Or maybe I'd just take to my bed and only eat chocolate and potato chips. Heh. Either way, having someone consider my work so carefully does feel very gratifying and gives it a bit more meaning and affirmation.

Does that even make sense?


Natalya Khorover Aikens said...

It totally makes sense! I understand, I wouldn't want someone's review of my work change the way that I work, but it is an excellent validation..

ddrips said...

oh, it make so much sense my friend ...

Actually having the mind set of what you posted ( kind of knowing who I am) let me hear my "negative" critique without too much fuzz.

but I do have chocalate and chips stock up for just those occasion.... just in case.

drips of paint said...

oops, I used the wrong blog to sent you comment... the above (ddrips) is me

Anonymous said...

Hi Tracy,
it fully does.
It would have been irritating if you had said "yes" - after following your blog for quite a while.
I have often asked myself the very same question. And although I have not had any open negative critique until today - which I truely cannot understand and makes me feel somehow incompetent as if my work is not worth any serious critique.
I know this is a strange reaction but I am always very suspicious about the positive matches - probably due to my upbringing where any form of praise was broadly dispised.
I think you are already too far into your work being the result of your personality that anyone could possibly influence you in a serious way. Positive or negative critique is simply not relevant any more. But this you have answered for yourself already.
Btw - we are exhibiting at the same gallery - BoxHeart - in Pittsburgh, where I had a solo show in Feb this year. I wish you much luck for your upcoming show in November! Are you going to attend? If yes, would you give my regards to Nicole?
Cordially, Petra

Tracy Helgeson said...

Thanks Natalya, Tim and Petra for your words of understanding. When I was typing it up it made sense, but then reading it made me lose what my train of thought was. I just couldn't think of another way to describe how I felt about being reviewed however.

Anyway, thanks again.

And Petra, thanks for the good luck wishes and I sure will say hi to Nicole for you! I am looking forward to meeting her.

Tracy Helgeson said...

Petra, I just checked out your work and it is truly beautiful. I am flattered to have you as a reader! How was your show at Boxheart?

Anonymous said...

Hi Tracy,

I agree with Petra when she says that you are too far into your work to be influenced in a serious way. After all said and done, critics have their own agendas, their own different understandings. And they talk too much...:) They can't sway an experienced artist. For instance, what I do is more of an interpretation, and as such it addresses the viewers at least in the same degree as the artists.

Seems that eventually critiques leave only a slight trace of positive or negative -- depending on the review -- sensation that will completely disappear with time, as it should.

That's how it worked for me as a writer, when I submit some of my short stories to critique forums. Professional artists are probably even more thick-skinned, plus many have the selling quotient (when there is one) to consider, which may be viewed as the best kind of critique, especially in the visual arts, when "what you see is what you get."

Anonymous said...

Hi Tracy,
I simply like to read your blog because it is a peek into thoughts which sound very familiar sometimes. There is no sarcasm and cynism, which seems to feed so many people in these days. One can feel that you love what you do without any hidden meaning.
Your paintings are somehow soothing and your colour palette is very friendly, something really joyful for the eye, nothing disturbing. It is peace. Did you ever think of doing a slideshow with your paintings together with soft classical music?

Anonymous said...

Congratulations and best wishes for the Boxheart Gallery Opening on Saturday....thinking about you.The new works on the blogsite are absolutely fabulous!!!!! Talk to you soon, Best from, Betty