On my trip to Colombia, walking and hiking everywhere seemed to be the theme of the day. But the most challenging hike was up the switchbacks and stone steps up to the 10,560 foot peak to the church at the top of Montserrat in Bogota. The air is thin two miles high and the only way I made it was step by step rather than thinking about how much further I had to go. As I was climbing it occurred to me what a great metaphor the climb was for artists.
Artists Can't Jump in Line
As much as I want to, I can't jump ahead of where I am developmentally as an artist nor creatively. Like the climbs on my thin-air hikes, to get there it's one foot in front of the other until I learn what I need to know to reach the next creative summit.
It's like my efforts in the past year to improve my composition and experiment with many of the designs of the artists that went before me. I could have read about them, and I did, but until I tried to apply them and learn from my attempts, those are the steps I must make.
I read recently how as artists we sometimes don't know what to ask to know what we need to learn next. That's why I pay for monthly critiques through Art Prof
The Art Prof is a non-commercial site developed by the art professors at the Rhode Island School of Design. Like me, they have a Patreon page that is designed to help fund the "how-to" videos. One of the monthly levels of giving is $8 a month that includes an exclusive Facebook page where I can post work and have them give me feedback. It's like my own private access channel until more artists sign up. I am helping a worthwhile organization create videos and getting my personal art needs met at the same time.
The Small Group Pattern Design
Getting critiques at workshops is also good, but I've found them very limiting. Actually, most instructors never really get to know the artists well enough to give frank honest feedback. I find most instructors hold back unless they know you well enough to give it to you strait. I made sure in private communication with the Rhode Island professors that I was used to be critiqued and to hold nothing back. This I think is an important thing to make clear if you really truly want honest feedback and you can take it.
What I learned
* Be honest with myself: don't ask for critiques if all I want is praise. I don't, I want ideas
* Feedback can come from other artists too, I've developed some trusting relationships over time for such critique sessions.
* When unsure if a fellow artist really wants an opinion, tread lightly until you know them and know their really intentions and needs