This week I got some feedback on my drawings from a well intended artist friend. The comment was:
the drawings to me were excellent character sketches and notes for a book or video, but they didn’t function on the page.
“Didn’t function on the page.”
That’s not what you want to hear. But it serves as an excellent test for me to not claim ownership over any feedback I get; positive or negative. Reading that comment, absorbing it; I knew I was being given a chance to re-examine my ongoing drawing project with fresh eyes. As a potential tipping point though this suggestion that they’re a failed effort allowed me to reclaim my own thoughts on the matter.
There was a time a thing like this may have inspired me to trash a body of work, but no more.
I didn’t not draw after reading that email. I drew this:
This drawing functioned ok on this page I think.
I wanted to depict the lost pets of the recent hurricane on the east coast with a hopeful bent. So I inserted it into a frame sized to work well on Facebook and posted it on my HappyArtMarti page. I shared it with a page that is helping reunite pets and people and someone bought the original to send to her friend rescuing dogs in New Jersey. So, I guess my drawings do function on the page. This one does anyway. And, in fact, they all do. They all do the function I ask them to do:
- keep me creatively flexible
- maybe help others to smile
I don’t ask them to be finished masterpieces, that’s why I call them sketches. Sometimes they impersonate a finished work, others times; not so much. But I’ll keep doing them because I believe in them, and that’s all that maters ultimately. That they resonate with others must be secondary. I think this is an important element of how it is one finds they can call themself an artist. It is a title you earn from within.
…is something only you can give yourself. It simply can’t be granted externally. So, ok, you can award one to someone else but it’s almost guaranteed they won’t, they can’t, accept it for real. We all have to give it to ourselves. This is how we get through the hard times; the times when our efforts aren’t resonating with anyone else. Our times of evolution when we’re maybe not creating anything ‘marketable’.
Two More Examples
Another friend confided in me the other day that she struggles with calling herself a photographer despite her multitudes of followers on Instgram and constant positive feedback. I told her that I had heard Ray Romano (“Everone Loves Raymond”) telling Terry Gros (“Fresh Air”) that he still finds himself wondering if he’a legitimately funny guy or a faker despite having created an overwhelmingly successful career.
Appreciation for our own creative output has got to come from within because as we can see it can never be fed in any meaningful way for many of from the outside, and sometimes well wishers may accidentally say something that could waylay your whole operation.
Do They Function for You?:
Drawings That Do Function
When you get right down to it – a sketch doesn't have to be a masterpiece.