Illustration: Gaston de Latenay. Landscape.
From the larger society down to single relationships, many support the creative arts. However, many don't and the negative is often the louder and listened to more frequently than the positive. Doesn't make them right though. The constant barrage from the negative crowd that deem anyone taking a creative path as open for sneering derision for being bold enough to take that path, are not right purely because they sometimes shout the loudest and the furthest.
The negative naysayer has always been with us, possibly will be for some time to come, but they are mistaken in their belief that the creative arts are of no importance to the human condition. They are indeed vital and a necessary tool for our growth as a species. The positive projection of the creative arts is one of the lynch pins in the expansion of our consciousness across the following decades. It is therefore important that the expansion of artists across the planet is systematically encouraged. There isn't any point in seeing the arts as a fundamental building block in human development if there are no practitioners to back it up.
Which of course leads us directly to the critic, and more specifically, general and specific criticism of the creative arts. At times, it might well seem as if the world of criticism is a deep and dark force with the sole remit of destroying any form of creativity, certainly how it may seem if you've ever been on the receiving end. However, criticism in its own right is a constructive act, constructive being the key word. Constructive criticism is an art in its own right. It is the correct form that criticism is meant to take, the balancing of good and bad points about a specific piece of work or artist, criticism that tries to project the positive, making the world in turn a better and more harmonious place in which to live.
Illustration: F. L. B. Griggs. A pastoral.
Unfortunately, and particularly with the spread of the internet, a platform has been given to whole armies of self-proclaimed and often misguided critics who have, for some reason, the idea that to be a critic means that you have to be both negative and abusive. To say that something is 'crap' is a pointless act, a vacuous statement. What does it mean? How can you back up such a purposely closed and blinkered statement? It is the act of the juvenile, of the adolescent soul looking for attention.
The point of real criticism is to balance both good and bad aspects seen in a piece of creative work. To both praise the good elements and point out where weakness could be improved. It may well smart the fragile ego of the artist at times, but most artists are usually aware that improvements can always be made, otherwise, why are they on their specific journey in the first place?
It takes a lot of guts to place something so personal and so entwined with your own character, your own view of life, your own essence, into the public arena. It really doesn't need a self-styled internet critic to savage and sneer. If they wound deeply enough they may well feel as if they have done a worthwhile job and hope to be admired and applauded by their own audience for taking down anyone who dares step out into the light. However, they can also deeply wound and unseat any fragile confidence that an artist might have, particular the younger artists who are just starting out. If there is something, we don't need and that is new potential creative artists falling along the wayside. We don't need less creative people around. We need more, many more.
Illustration: Otto Fischer. A study.
Some critics would tell you that their job is to sort out the good from the bad, to protect us from the terrible and the untalented. Since when? Many creative people in the past have gone through enormous trials and tribulations with consistent lack of support from critics and public alike, but nevertheless made a valuable and viable contribution in the end. So who can really be arrogant enough to believe that they can tell a winner from a loser? In art, there is no such thing. All people in their own right are naturally creative, and if some decide to take an artistic path then they should be supported and applauded for taking that very path. Critics should be seen as helpers along the path, not jokers with one foot out to trip an artist, whilst having an eye firmly rooted on their own audience's appreciation.
One last point I would make about at least some of the self-aggrandising critics out there as well as those closer to home, family, friends, neighbours, most have never been involved in the business in which they have decided to criticise, either through their own inadequacies or fears. It's worth bearing in mind the next time someone decides to tell you that you are wasting your time and that you have no talent. Just recognise what a sad and lonely place they must really have to inhabit in order to feel the need to put someone down in order to bolster themselves, and then just carry on on your own creative path, regardless.
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