When evaluation is from within

Self-criticism is important for style development as it is only the artist that understands the links between technique, message and media

Self-criticism is important for style development as it is only the artist that understands the links between technique, message and media

Knowledge Mushohwe Art Zone
Creative products can only be called art if they take on a physical form. An artist developing an idea or concept in his head may have a clear picture of the finished product but that process can never be characterised as art.

A lot depends on the motivation driving the artist to transform ideas into a concept and convert those impressions into a finished product tailored for a wider audience.

The motivation is tied to one’s ability to have a creative understanding of ideas and the propensity to encode them into a complete composition.

The pace of early development of an artist is partly determined by the level of acceptance of physical impressions by the immediate society.

Acceptance is particularly important because art is created much less for the purposes of the artist to visually communicate with the public and much more as a product that speaks on its own terms to society.

The artist is only the agent and the visual information is what is more important.

But for the artist to develop a good two-way linear communication model with the society there must be a deliberate and constant review of methods, techniques and subjects related to the artworks.

These processes may not run smoothly for emerging artists however.

For younger artists, there is more difficulty in gaining acceptance because of a number of reasons.

Child artists’ world is dominated by two key influences — authority and peers.

School teachers and parents make mostly non-negotiable decisions on their behalf that, if spiked with negative connotations, affect the natural learning curve of an emerging artist.

Fellow students and friends that may be rivals or fierce critics also have the potential to slow down or completely stop one’s creativity.

However, the main push factor away from visual communication remains the emotional notion that employment opportunities in the formal category are better and any education and training should be a preparation towards office jobs.

Societal expectations more often than not discourage creative development and view it at best as being just a hobby.

The lack of support usually blunts creativity, not for the reason that the artist may not be talented enough, but because art is for the society and without its endorsement, then the potential market ceases to exist.

That is why it is vital that the artists themselves understand the potential of their work and continuously review progress on their trade because if they do not do that themselves, no one will with similar verve.

Self-criticism is important for style development as it is only the artist that understands the links between technique, message and media.

If it starts at a very early stage of artistic development, it also ensures that negative and sometimes destructive feedback from society does not completely derail a promising career.

Just like an athlete, every artist has an idea about the potential levels within themselves.

And just like an athlete, a career may be brought to an abrupt end if surrounded by shades of negativity.

Belief is key, and so is self-evaluation.

But self-criticism can only work if it is twined with humility.

There must be an acknowledgement that a room for improvement always exists at any stage of artistic development.

Visual art that is dynamic and open to experimentation is more likely to strike a chord with its audience than a rigid, monotonous style and execution.

Dynamism is brought on by confidence.

And confidence is a delicate feeling — there is a thin line between it and arrogance.

Failure to take heed of constructive criticism and the inability to see or correct glaring technical and psychological frailties in one’s style are a direct result of conceit.

Arrogance is a problem in visual art because it arms the artist with a false sense of authority and the art becomes less of a two-way communication method and more a dictation of one’s views as instructions rather that information.

Confidence is good, but superciliousness is dangerous as it cultivates denial.

When the artist is driven by egotism, decisions are not based on the need to provide information, but by the selfish objective to impose personal views on a society.

The development of an artist involves many factors, but those from within the self are perhaps the most decisive.

A personal post-mortem of work presented to the public, taking into consideration views elicited from others is the best way to plan the next artwork and map the general way forward.

Art is expected to change because audience expectations change too.

If visual artists fail to accurately interpret and understand the core of their expressive talent and identify shortcomings from within, further development is not possible.

Regular ‘brainstorming sessions’ with the self ensure that all possibilities are considered and positive changes develop the art further.

There is no substitute to self-criticism.

To concede that something might need fixing is a sure way to open-mindedness and a chance to learn more, resulting in the enhancement one’s visual representations.

The development of a visual talent from armature levels to a more complete professional stage is mostly determined by the ability to listen and act upon the recommendations of the inner self.

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