Once I had finished piece #7, I began seeking feedback. Feedback can be a slippery slope, fraught with the danger that outside input can alter an artist’s vision. Suddenly, based upon another person’s idea, the artist can move forward, stop altogether, or change course by pursuing a “happy accident” too early in the exploration of a theme.
For me, the tendency has been to stop making art altogether based upon a look, tone of voice, or the opinion of another. Worse was the comment, “that’s terrific, but then I think everything you do is terrific” – well intentioned, but not exactly helpful; sort of like being told, “I’ll love you no matter how fat or ugly you are.” It took an already difficult and not enjoyable process and sucked the floundering wind out of my sails. This may explain what happened in the majority of my stalled projects over the past 20 years.
But this time was different because of how making the art made me feel. I closed my heart to the feedback and persevered. Now, I’ll admit, my first foray into feedback was from a benevolent audience: friends, coworkers, and my remaining stalwart contact from art school. Comments included: “neat,” “pretty,” “interesting,” wow!” and one of my favorites “Hey, I recognize that. That’s the Manhattan Bridge.”
The most useful feedback was “keep working,” and a reference someone made to Precisionist painters. The Precisionism movement in art included a group of American artist from the 1920s and 1930s who took the evolving urban landscape and reduced it to basic geometric shapes. The most representative artist of this movement was Charles Sheeler, however, Georgia O’Keefe and Edward Hopper are also associated with this movement. I may be referring back to the Precisionists when I begin exploring color in this series.