When we walk into a gallery or painter’s studio, Ingrid and I perform the same action but differently. She studies, brush strokes, looks at the use of colour, and questions the medium used. When I look at a painting, none of those things matter. This gets me thinking on creators as critics.
I’ve never met a creator who isn’t, in some sense, a critic. Ingrid, for example, doesn’t look at paintings the same way I do. In case you don’t know, she’s an artist; she paints, sketches and does a million other arty things. My most creative outlet has been words more than anything else.
I look at the painting and feel it. How does it make me feel? I never try to understand why the painter contrasted what he or she did; I just get a feel for how it moves me. If it doesn’t I don’t spend much time on it. I have sat in front of some art pieces in galleries for an hour. Crazy; but that’s how I’ve enjoyed some paintings and sculptures.
When I look at a book, I look at everything about it. The packaging matters. The writing style and other techniques are things I note.
Because Ingrid is a painter, she’s more critical of paintings. Musicians are more critical of musicians. I’m not talking about the mean kind of critic. I talking about someone who tries to understand and break things down.
Creators as critics isn’t just about others’ work. It is also about our own. “Why did it turn out this or that way? How could I have done this better? Is this thing I’ve created in anyway reflective of what I tried to do? Should this even see the light of day? Is it good enough to be seen and appreciated by other people? Could I have done this better?”
The same questions we pose when looking at other creators’ works, haunt us equally. Often, it is what others have done we esteem more highly than our own. Creators can be the most ruthless critics, of both their work and others’.
They can’t always help it. This is because the question of anything being good enough, better or the best, will always linger. Deep down, we want to not only make something we’re proud of but that will impact everyone who comes in contact with it, in the deepest and most profound way.
Creators as critics are not particularly bad. They merely express the desire to not only be beneficiaries of the best possible but also be the givers of the same.