I just returned from a workshop in Iowa. There I had a portfolio review that made me think about my art in a new way.
Mallory Grigg from Macmillan, really honed in on the pieces that I made for fun. Not a project, or a story, or an assignment. My use of color was vibrant, almost energizing. I wasn’t playing it safe. I was pushing the boundaries of the things I love. Color! Pattern! Texture!
Mallory pushed me to edit some of my existing pieces that were pretty, but lacking the energy from my other pieces. She was asking me to trust my instincts.
I found it hard to believe that my instincts deserved any merit. Especially because I don’t have an art degree. Over time and many portfolio critiques, I taught myself not to trust my instincts. This wasn’t because I received bad advice, art is subjective after all. There are some things that make a piece work on other levels, like composition, perspective and value. I think it was because I didn’t have the skills to take that advice and apply it to the things I was doing well.
Mallory encouraged me to see that art is about learning. Learning to tell the story of my image clearly. Learning to evoke emotion. Learning to paint the things I love. Learning to take chances. Learning to trust my instincts.
So this is a heartfelt THANK YOU! To everyone that takes the time to make my art better. Sometimes I might not be ready to hear or understand everything you are trying to say, but know that I am trying. Slowly when I put in the work, your words come back to me and my art improves in small (sometimes big!) incremental ways.
Here are the steps I took with a perfectly pretty image to make it more interesting and dynamic.