How Do You Handle Criticism?

How Do You Handle Criticism?

First endeavours blown!!

You have just finished painting a picture and you are feeling good about it, and then along someone and you hoped they would give you a positive valuation. But instead, can you believe it, they criticize it!   ……I bet you feel like screaming!!

Handling criticism as artists

A5 watercolour: The glow of the sunrise touches every living thing. “Let sunshine shine in your hearts today”

Criticism can be so hurtful. Like a balloon that has just popped, you feel empty. All the faith you had in your ability to paint …has just evaporated.

Wow! You wondered why you even asked for their opinion. Why did they pull it apart and dissect it like that? They spoilt it all for you!  ….It isn’t long before you’re getting angrier and angrier at their unkind remarks. Don’t they know your whole heart was in that painting? And now you don’t feel like changing anything about it ….just to spite them.

How do you handle criticism?

You ask yourself, “Did their criticism help?” “Did their advice really apply in this case?”

  • Maybe you think to yourself: “Perhaps they are right, I’m a lousy artist,” and then decide to give up and never paint again?
  • Or you try to explain to them what you were really trying to do? That the horse you painted wasn’t a mouse or cat as they said! And have them look more closely at, with what looks like a puzzled look of pity on their blank faces?
  • Or give them a mouthful and tell them to `hop it and get lost’? Only to have them retort, “Don’t get all worked up, we were only trying to be helpful!”
  • Then you remember they’ve never painted anything themselves, so what do they know? And then decide to `take it with a pinch of salt’ and dismiss their silly remarks.
  • Or perhaps turn the painting to the wall and start another painting, something altogether different, in the hopes it will turn out better than the last effort, hey?

No matter what people may think of you and your paintings, remember:

  • Some people can’t look at anything without finding fault. It’s in their nature. Some people excuse this behaviour as, `I’m a perfectionist’!
  • Yes some people do expect everything in paintings must be perfect, full of precise detail and look authentically like the visual-aid photograph you were painting from. They don’t want paintings, they want enlarged photos!
  • Some people are critical because they are jealous or just plain spiteful. It gives them a thrill to act superior and put other people down.
  • Some people don’t approve of your art because they think art is just a hobby and you are wasting your (their) time!
  • Not all people are professional artists. But keep it in mind each has a personal art preference. Some people like abstracts, bright colours and stark shapes. And others like paintings to look authentic, with mellow moody scenes. And some are just looking for something that vibes madly with their décor.
  • And then again, some people are trained art critics. Think again about what they have to say. Maybe their advice could improve your talent.

Conclusive judgement on criticism:

Judge the situation before jumping to conclusions.

  • Everyone has their own opinion of what art should be. Not everyone will agree with you or see your point of view.
  • And the way your painting turned out, isn’t what you initially had in mind anyway. So what?! Let them think what they like you enjoy messing around with what you do.
  • Even if your art isn’t wonderful at this point of time, remember talent is a growing thing. The more you practice your craft the more it improves, and your personal expression and techniques evolve with time.

 You count:

No matter what your style of art is, it feels good to experiment and use your imagination.

Like any author, film producer or even a fashion designer, we wouldn’t have new technology if it wasn’t for people who used their imagination and ventured beyond present know-how.

Artists see something that stirs their imagination and from that moment of initial visionary impact, a concept is born and their talent and abilities take over. The end result is what the general public enjoys today.

So don’t give up, you are on a journey to success. Act the part, feel the part, live the part. As the saying goes, `Fake it, till you make it’.  Believing in yourself helps to make the transition come about.

Are you being who you want to be, or are you doing what other people assume, or you’re conned into believing who you are?!

Handling criticism as artists

A5 watercolour: When you travel through life see the beauty of nature all around you.

Would love your input on this subject of criticism:

What do you think and react when people criticize your work? Feel free to leave your comment in the comment-box provided below.

For more info on how to become a famous artist, click on the page “Fame & fortune” and follow-up on the blog categories as well, listed down the sidebar on the page.

Watch Wild Birds: Marievale Bird Sanctuary

Want to watch Wild Birds? You will find lots at Marievale Bird Sanctuary.

Where is Marievale Bird Sanctuary?

Marievale bird sanctuary is south-east of Johannesburg, South Africa. It is nestled between goldmine dumps and the town of Nigel, situated north-east of the Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve. The entrance to Marie vale Bird sanctuary is free!

Watch wild birds at Marievale Bird Sanctuary

A5 watercolour: Some of the wild flowers in the grasslands area of Marievale Bird Sanctuary.

What’s so nice about the place is that it is so quiet and peaceful there. It’s a place you’ll want to spend the whole day there, from early morning to late afternoon. Bird-lovers will really appreciate this natural sanctuary. There are so many birds to watch out for with your binoculars and notch up your found-bird lists during spring and early summer.

Picnic spot provided:

No busy restaurants, just pure nature all around you. Great place for family picnics in the designated picnic area. Take out your table clothes, blankets and cushions, take a snooze or quietly watch the water for bird life.

Watch wild birds at Marievale Bird Sanctuary

Photo taken from Picnic spot.

Wetlands and dams:

There is a river going through the reserve, but basically it’s a wetland area with two dams. There are lots of birds, big and small; chirping and going about their particular business, flying here and there or swimming in and out the reeds, and some birds just keep very still while they watch for possible tiny fish in the water or grubs in the mud.

Watch birds at Marievale Bird Sanctuary

Photo: Folks checking out bird activity.

Watch birds at Marievale Bird Sanctuary

Photo: Now what is he looking at?

Buck and wild flowers:

As you go along further into the reserve, exploring the little back roads, you go over quant long-lying bridges into more grassland areas. In some places near the mine-dump side of the reserve you’ll need a four-by-four vehicle in rainy weather.

Don’t rush in the grassland area. Take time to observe the wildlife. Watch out for buck and all sorts of tiny wildlife. In the spring there are beautiful fields of wild flowers waving in the breeze. Oh such beauty and tranquillity, you’ll forget there are busy towns and the hectic lifestyle of Johannesburg city just a few miles away. Marievale is the sort of place where you’ll want to go to unwind!

Watch birds at Marievale Bird Sanctuary

Photo: Red Bishop weaver bird.

Want to know and see more?

  • For further information on the sanctuary and a google map, go to
  • And if you want to see and read more interesting places I’ve painted, go to the  Location Adventures’ category listed on one of the menu pages.

Are You Scared of Making Mistakes?

Are you scared of making mistakes?

Don’t be. You make the difference. Be the artist you always wanted to be.Your dexterity depends on your attitude and freedom of expression. Emotional impact is more important than perfection!

You and mistahes

A5 watercolour: When I mask in the flowers with liquid masking, it gives me freedom to slosh paint on, all over the painting! Such fun. It doesn’t matter if I make a mistake with the masking. After removing the masking, I just use my imagination and control edges with gradation.

Most people dread making mistakes:

People get so nervous about making mistakes that they rather not venture forth into new avenues of experience or start anything new, just in case they make a mistake and make a fool of themselves. Here are typical art examples:

  • “I haven’t time to paint or take art lessons. Art is only for those who are born with talent.”
  • “I don’t paint with watercolours” Why? “People say watercolours are difficult to do.”
  • “I don’t paint people in my pictures.” Why? “Well ….I …can’t draw hands or feet.”

Notice there is always an added excuse! It’s only human that we pull out because we are scared of the unknown. We generally are not adventurous enough”

Why do you think this is?

It is drummed into our brains from childhood, all through our school days. We are programmed to get our sums right, write neatly, colour-in within the lines, etc. We are not taught how to use our imagination or trained how to brainstorm, so as to find other ways of doing things or overcome problems.

Perfection under subtle control:

Because we were indoctrinated into staying within the lines of colouring books as children, we expect perfection. That we think we can only be good artists if our paintings are perfect like the old masters, full of detail.

The fact is: the old masters actually controlled their detail by using gradation of tone and colour along and beside their contour edges. Because most people don’t know this, there continues to be the perception that precise detail is important.

But in fact the quality of your contour edges is more important.

You can paint over lines, the contour outlines of objects. It is how you do it that counts.

  • Messy contour edges: If your outlines are loosely reiterated unevenly, the eye accepts the variegated combination of lines as animation.
  • Blurring of contour lines: The soft blurring gives the object atmospheric dimension. And of cause action and movement is blurred.
  • The free-flowing dexterity of scribbling and blurring edges creates emotional impact. Also shows the artist isn’t scared to express him or herself freely. It is as though they have put the `breathe of life’ into their paintings.
  • Why is this acceptable? People are more concerned with the outer contour edges of objects than they are of the centre part of the objects. The outer edge of the shape identifies the object’s character. So detail in the centre part isn’t that important as we think.
  • Also mood is more important than perfection. Why, because people buy with their emotions.


Watercolour illustration: Straying within the lines, or painting over lines to create atmospheric conditions.

Pencil outline and watercolour illustration: Staying within the pencil lines, or painting over the pencil lines to create atmospheric conditions.

The dexterity quality of your strokes depends on your mood. You make the difference. Believe in your vision, paint it as you see it should be.

Pour your heart into your painting. Put power and passion into your strokes. People will feel your passion within your art. Feel the mood you are creating. And with that enthusiasm, you will forget about making mistakes. You will see mistakes are really un-important in the bigger picture. Remember even the best artists make mistakes, all the time, you just don’t see them!


Ask yourself when you make a mistake, “Have I learnt from this experience? What shall I do in future to handle this situation better? Is it really a mistake, can I benefit from the situation and transform it to my advantage instead?”  Often it only takes a small thing to turn the situation around.

Surprisingly, it can be the challenging painting that sells quickest!!! So don’t give up on yourself. So what if you make a few mistakes, it’s a learning curve! Successful artists are generally those who persist against all odds. Mistakes, been the least of their worries.

Be willing to take up challenges:

Those who are successful in this life are those who tend to assess the pros and cons before taking up challenges.  For example as an artist: “How shall I compose the composition format? What style and colours should I use and what type of mood should I create, etc.”

Once `on the trail’ of actually doing something, you discover how mistakes teach you `how not to do it again’ and possibly how to `do it better next time’. It is only though challenging ourselves and trying out something that we learn new skills.

The wisdom of practical knowledge:

If you have experienced something before, you have something to judge what to do or not to do. So if you fall into a rut or a problematic situation arises, you are able to use your imagination (relying on past experiences) to improve or overcome situations. Practical knowledge is the key to success …we only become good artist by observing the world around us and drawing and painting often.

What have you experienced?

For all the other artists out there, please comment and tell us how you have handled mistakes? And what you have gained from reading this blog?

More watercolour secrets are revealed:

  • Check out Watercolour Secrets category ….listed in sidebars of menu pages.
  • Also download watercolour books for free.