Thursday, August 20, 2009


Be true to your vision…

So you’ve designed something wonderful and you thought in your mind’s eye that you had it perfectly envisioned – HOWEVER…

Here you are staring at the “whatever” and it needs something, something is wrong, is it too much or not enough, a quandary, a conundrum.

Too often we come to this artistic impasse where we struggle with those last little bits OR we see that we’ve made a huge mistake and something must be done to fix it.

Part of teaching is steering, you learn as a teacher to see a wrong turn in the road looming but you must temper your personal vision in favor of making a suggestion rather than demanding adherence to your own choices over the inner expression of the student.

It‘s all about those bends in the road and getting to the final destination successfully-however many turns, switchbacks and detours come along the route.

A few hints and tips that may shorten the journey follow-use them or discard them-but better than simply dismissing something here’s your first tip and it’s one that took me some time to learn:Listen, consider, adapt.
Listen to whatever critique or suggestion is given but don’t get offended.

I have to tell you that it took me a long time to learn what it meant when someone said “Don’t take this personally.

” Well, hell, you’re talking about my art, my creativity and the expressions of my soul…


It’s an opinion, and what weight you give it depends on what your there to learn or how much you value the opinion of the person offering the advice.

Even if you highly value their expertise-remember what you create is what YOU create-when you’re taking lessons or in a peer setting that offers friendly criticism you LISTEN to whatever words of wisdom or opinions are proffered, you CONSIDER the source, how the opinion was given and then simmer on it in a GOOD way and ADAPT it to your benefit.

“I think it needs a touch of red over here to balance this and make it pop.”

RED? What are you nuts? Hmmmm…maybe not red but a redder orange that would bring out the rusty tones and I could do that by adding some soft washes…


The point is you listened, you took it personally for a minute but then you considered and adapted the suggestion to your personal vision rather than discarding the whole business.

“Had you considered tea dyeing that trim before you added it? It seems too white for the antique look of the composition?”

OH! That’s what’s been bothering me-I can still tone down that white by washing the trim lightly and it will look better.

You LISTENED and you openly CONSIDERED that this was a solution you could ADAPT to improve your work.
As you learn to process critiques in a positive way and use the parts that work (for your style) you also learn to see the tiny adjustments that make huge differences in the totality of a composition.

Part of all this is the training of you artist’s eye-you know as you sit at work table that you don’t have the right colour bead or pearl for this piece, some of us get up and go get the right colour even if it means a trip to the store, some of us put the piece aside and finish it later but too often the easy way is to go ahead and just get it done so ivory would have been perfect but it will be OK with white…

That’s up to you but I say NO!

When my work was used heavily in licensing and that caused it to be adapted it also caused changes since my style was being interpreted by another artist.

Most companies wanted input from me but sometimes they would just head off in their own direction and what I had to consider was they were investing in a product that would pay me royalties but also from which THEY had to profit.

If I was seriously disturbed by the changes I would suggest that I was not comfortable with the product or with an aspect of the design and occasionally I would make a stand and ask to withdraw the design-eventually I learned that it was best to make my feelings know at the beginning and watch how the company viewed a specific item carefully-if I wasn’t happy with the direction they were taking at the beginning I would pull the design before they invested time and money in something I wasn’t going to want my name on BUT I also learned to LISTEN, CONSIDER and ADAPT my opinions and often their superior knowledge of the items they were producing surpassed my opinion of my design and made me a lot of money.

So long as my artistic integrity wasn’t affected it was fine.

A publisher cut all the best designs from one of my how-to books-at least all of the best designs in my mind.
I was terribly upset and almost pulled the book but then I CONSIDERED and ADAPTED-those “BEST DESIGNS” could be submitted as separate articles to craft magazines and the book would be fine without them.

The projects I submitted to magazines were all accepted and eventually (cumulatively) made more money for me personally than the entire run of the book did.


DON’T take it personally

THINK before you compromise your values and your designs but weigh carefully your decisions.

VALUE your artistic vision but don’t discard good input because of your ego-discard it because they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about---not really, that was a little joke---ADAPT any input to your benefit even if it’s only the solid decision that your original choice or direction was the best one and the one you are confident in putting out there for the world to see.

Critiques are OPINIONS sometimes informed opinions but opinions none the less...there's a classic quip about opinions and everyone having one but I think I will leave this right here on the higher road...

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