“Our starting point is not neutral; it’s negative.
“…Go first to what is working or what could be working and ask yourself, what do you like about it? Every idea is really a compound of ideas. It has all these facets, all these little pieces, and so even if it’s a horrible idea overall, you can still isolate something in there [that you like].”
— Adam Hansen, Negativity is Built into Our DNA, Heleo interview 18 September 2017
When I went art evening classes in London in the 1990s, I was fortunate to do a class with a tutor who would do a feedback session at the end of each class and always found something positive in everyone’s drawing or painting. What really had an impact was that it was always believable, plausible, genuine, not simply a “nice effort” pat on the back. I went on to do multiple classes with her, and it’s this ability to give positive, genuine feedback that’s stayed with me the most. (Although the taking in her stride that one evening my self portrait turned out shades of purple amidst a class of flesh-tones is also memorable.) Thanks Kate!
It’s all too easy to dismiss a drawing or painting as “all rubbish”, when it rarely is. (Note I did say “rarely”, not “never”, because sometimes I do assign a piece to the bin of despair.) It can be hard to find anything you like or pleased about when it’s freshly done (or abandoned). Like revenge*, self-critique is best served cold.
*I feel compelled to add I don’t go around being vengeful; it’s an metaphor that popped into my mind and feels apt because art critique can be harsh and targeted and misguided.