Thursday, July 1, 2010

Fair and Balanced Reporting....




Watercolor Journal Pages
5.5 x 7.5 inches

How often have you created a painting and said, "Gee, wish I'd of done this instead of that," but you didn't because you were already committed to current direction of the painting?  And then, no matter how well the painting turned out, when someone complimented you on the piece, you talked about what you wished you would have done rather than just saying, "Thank you"? We've all done it. We'll all probably do it again. 

When I worked in the pharmaceutical industry, we had to abide by something called Fair and Balanced Reporting, and simply worded, it meant you had to provide an accurate perspective on any drug you were marketing. An example would be a drug that could cure ingrown ears, but it would cause you to grow green, smelly, hairy warts on your big toes. To be fair and balanced, you had to report both the effects (you could hear!) and the side effects (you had to wear sandals because of the warts) of the drug. The good and the bad.

And what does that have to do with art, you're asking? Well, I've recently run across several artists tearing their work to shreds, publicly—not so much of a critique, mind you, but more of a litany of every last little detail that's wrong, didn't go right and that what they wanted to change." Hmmm, sound familiar? I know it does to me as I'm quite guilty of this myself!  

What I did NOT see was any mention of what went right, what turned out well, what pleased them and what they are particularly proud of about the given image. Now, I don't know about you, but I have yet to paint a painting, journal a page or create a sketch that there wasn't SOMETHING that I didn't like or want to change or do better! However, in fairness, there was always something I liked, an area that turned out well or that I was particularly pleased with. Did I always say or write that? Hmmmm, no.

My point to this rambling post is to ask artists everywhere to take a deep breathe and check to see if you've indeed practiced Fair and Balanced Reporting BEFORE you punch the "publish" button! Did you balance the good (I have outgrown ears and can hear!) with the not so good (I have warts on my toes and they smell bad!)? Focusing on the facts, removing emotional comments (I just hate that area!), and pointing out both sides, good and bad, go a long ways towards being Fair and Balanced to the piece. Not to mention the artist. 

Critiques are so very important in the growth of an artist and we should strive to do them as well as we strive to create the artwork. To do a Fair and Balanced critique is no easy thing. We all too ready to attack our work and tear it apart before someone else can. Or so that no one thinks we think it's good work. How are we best served? With a Fair and Balanced critique which is much more likely to be an instrument for true and steady growth or a litany of ills (in our eyes) with a given piece of work?  

Yes, the vertical journal page appeared on the blog a couple of days ago. The horizontal version is new to the blog. The pages are from an exercise in the Artful Journaling class where we are studying page design. If you are interested, there are still some spots available in the Explorations class!

11 comments:

  1. I love your blog & I'm your new follower!

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  2. Hi, Carol, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! I've visited your blog on several occasions! It always surprised me how small the blogosphere really is!!

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  3. I hear what you are saying but I think I am developing warts on my toes. Sorry, I couldn't resist that. I want to take your Explorations class. I need a shove in a new direction. I have ideas and I hope to learn something new. How do I go about this? I have never taken an online classs.

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  4. Woohoo! Yay, Lisa, come on! We'll have lots of fun together!!!

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  5. Excellent post Laure - I'm not sure why it's so hard for so many artists to admit to the things they like in their own work, but I've noticed that in most of the classes I've taken. I was taught by a quilting teacher a long time ago that when someone complimented me on something I'd made, I should just smile and say thank you - and never point out what's wrong. I don't always remember to follow that advice, but I try.

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  6. I think you are right. Too often we pick our piece apart but we aren't as fair to ourselves as we would be to others. You are right in that we hurry (I do at least) to say what is wrong so people won't think we have a big head where it isn't deserved. But we look for what is good in someone else's work or we look for what we can use in our own work. We should do that with our paintings too. Good post for thinkin' on as so many of yours are.

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  7. You're absolutely right, Laure - and I'm guilty of negativity all the time.
    I have taken this on board and will promise to mend my ways. Actually maybe it will help the learning curve anyway!

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  8. Yes, Laure, again you have hit the nail on the head. I am so guilty of knocking down my own work, instead of looking for what I did well. Great post. I am loving the class.

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  9. I know I could use a heaping dose of "Fair and Balanced Reporting" medicine in everything I do! I think we've all conditioned ourselves to be negative self-critics, so much so, that we don't realize what we've done sometimes. I've been guilty of it when given a simple compliment in general...rather than just saying thank you, as you mentioned, it might sound something like, "yea but if I were slimmer it would fit better"! You're soooo correct! Great post Laure!

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  10. Your post is right on the mark, Laure. The think the gene to make art comes with a little voice that wants to point out what went wrong .... but even more important is to focus on what went right, so that we can grow on our strengths!

    And I like the thought Scrappy Cat made, when she says to just say, "thank you" to a compliment rather than pointing out the faults. Remember, if you point out the faults, you are also telling the giver of that compliment that their opinion is no good.

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