encouragement · Zentangle:ZIA

Dealing with Criticism

As artists and bloggers, we put little pieces of our heart and soul out into the world and open ourselves up to criticism. When I first started this journey, I was obsessed with that. If I got a nice comment, I was happy all day. If no one commented, I thought no one liked my work and was depressed. Gradually, Ive begun to let go of my need for approval.  I’ve come to believe that the value of art is not dictated by public opinion. I still love hearing your comments, but I no longer let them control my mood.

I had to learn this all over again after I published my book. When I got my first harsh book review, I was crushed and spent days trying to get people to tell me that reviewer was wrong. After that I began looking for the grains of truth in each criticism so I could learn and improve.  I thought I had this need for approval under control.

And then, BAM, another attack on the book. When I read,”It looks like it was put together by a grade-schooler,” I was crushed again. Where’s the grain of truth in that? Birdie wisely asked me if I liked it and if I thought I did a good job. “That,” she said, “is the only important thing.” She’s right. I find it astonishing that any 14-year-old has the self-confidence to understand that her work is valuable even if no one else thinks it is.  What a gift.

I, on the other hand, still let it bug me. Are my instructions truly poorly written?  Are my examples truly very rough and badly done? I don’t think so and many other people have told me they found the book very helpful, so why am I still thinking about it? After much soul-searching, reading, and writing, I’ve come to this conclusion: it is because I am human!

I am not the only one facing this challenge. If you are also being criticized and could use some support, I found the following articles helpful:
http://tinybuddha.com/blog/how-to-deal-with-criticism-well-25-reasons-to-embrace-it/
Dealing with Criticism
How to Deal With Criticism – 9 Useful Tips For Dealing With Criticism

Perhaps my favorite bit of advice comes from Aristotle. He says:
“Criticism is something you can easily avoid by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.”

So, I will continue to share my art and stories with you. Maybe I’ll even write another book. 

Here is today’s art. I thought I would “cheat” a little on the Diva challenge and start with this:
ivory
I figured I could add whatever was required and finish quickly.  Hah! She fooled me. The challenge this week is ebony and ivory. That required some serious thought.  

Not wanting to resort to black paint, I grabbed my Graphic 1 pen and I thought I’d try to do some “negative Zentangle.”  I don’t mean that I was going to think bad thought while tangling (not possible), but rather that I would try and color the background with black and leave white the part I would have normally drawn with my .01 or .005.  I can tell you that it was certainly a challenge. It took about 5 hours to do the ebony as compared to 1.5 for the ivory.  Not exactly the quick finish I had in mind.

But, I am really glad I did it. Not only do I really love the result, but it took my mind off the criticism.
ebony_ivory 1

Dealing with criticism is something that gets easier the more you do it, so I invite you to please criticize this post. I shall attempt to learn from it and not take any personal offense.  Thanks!

45 thoughts on “Dealing with Criticism

  1. Dealing with criticism is very hard for all of us. People tell me to thicken my skin. What is that? To be human is to feel and criticism hurts. Some people like nothing better than judging and criticizing to be hurtful. Constructive criticism can be good given in the right spirit. Putting yourself out there is like opening the door for anyone to say anything good or bad. I write knitting patterns and have gotten some bad comments before. I am a soft heated person, cannot change who I am and will never grow thicker skin (if that is possible). I have been so upset that I have wanted to retreat into my safe haven and not go public again. But after a few days, I heal and decide no one person will dictate my love for what I do. You help people and I for one am getting a lot of help from your book. I love it! I use it! Keep creating and let those who criticize with the wrong spirit reap what they sow!

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  2. Deby, we sound a lot alike. "No one person will dictate my love for what I do" is a great way to look at it. I'm glad my book is helping you. That is exactly why I wrote it: to help people who need it. I know it is not for everyone. I am hoping that "Ms. Nasty" just didn't need the book and didn't know how to express that appropriately.

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  3. Thank you for sharing and what a gift to have a 14 year old that's so wise. Please keep sharing. I not always put a comment under your blog, but I do read every one of them and LOVE!!!!!!!!! them.

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  4. I don't always have time to leave a comment. but I always love to look.it's always nice to know that others like what they see.but make your art because you enjoy it and you will always be happy. I love you and your art too!keep it coming ~~

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  5. Really cannot fault your beautiful piece of art – and would also love to buy your book! Who am I to criticise anyone?? It's not my place. I have so much yet to learn. Love your humble attitude though – hope your confidence keeps growing and growing so that you become completely untouchable and unaffected by criticism.

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  6. Oh Cris you have the right spirit and it is impossible to please all the people all the time. There is power and light beaming from your Zentangle art which shows strength and confidence. Hugs and thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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  7. It is often said that criticism says more about the one doing the criticizing than it does about the one being criticized. It's about the critic's own insecurities, not about you. That doesn't help, of course, when you're confronted by criticism. And some people are just plain nasty. Water off a duck's back.I love the reworking of the tangle for the challenge.

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  8. In the darkness of others flaws your light still shines brightly Chris. I think your daughter was reminding you of lessons you have taught her. Work hard to reach your goals and be proud of your accomplishments. This looks like an intricately carved piece of inlay. It's absolutely gorgeous.

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  9. GEEZ! This tangle looks like days of work. I simply love it and I'm still wondering how you do those 3D effects. I am a very sensitive person and take any criticism personal. I need to learn how to do deal with it too and your post is very inspirational. Thanks for sharing this.

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  10. That is very good advice. If I don't make art, I get unhappy. That is one of the reasons I love being a CZT, because I can help people who don't think they can make art.

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  11. Thanks. I was using the word "cheating" lightly. I always want to do a new piece of art just for the challenge. That is all I meant.

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  12. Very poetic. I think it is more likely that if we keep creating, we let our light shine through our own flaws. Thanks for reminding me that I may have had some hand in helping mold Birdie's wonderful attitude. I needed to hear that.

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  13. Thank you. Leaving the white part was challenging. I think like anything else it will become easier with practice. I like it so much that I think I will use that technique again.

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  14. If I knew how I made the 3D effects, I would share, but I was very surprised by that as well. Just part of the magic of Zentangle.I hope you read the comments also. There is a lot of wisdom being shared here in learning to deal with criticism. Best of luck in learning to take criticism. It is hard.

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  15. Good point. I think it should be easier to dismiss criticism from strangers who are not important in my life. But, on the other hand, knowing the source of criticism can make it easier to see where they are coming from. Like you said, some people are just nasty.

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  16. I, too, love your work. You have so much talent. Thank you for sharing the article. It made a lot of good points. After getting to know you at "The Hideaway", I can't imagine why anyone would be critical of your work. Your heart that shows in your work is as beautiful as you are. There is a saying that goes, "Those that can't, teach." I'd like to amend that to, "Those that can't or won't, criticize." I pray that you'll be at "The Hideaway" next year.

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  17. Cris ~ your work is BEAUTIFUL ~ I love all of the detail you put into this piece!I have a section on my blog with the header of Think About It ~ the first quote I have is ". . . Doesn't matter what anybody else thinks about anything. It only matters what you think about it. ~ Abraham" Truer words have never been spoken!

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  18. It is so easy to say something about somebodys work, but it is not eaysy to do her/heself. They who say, they usually don't do, they only say and often something negative. It helps they because they are envious: somebody else have done and they only stay without nothing.I have had many artexibitions and always some like and some don't like. It belongs to art. I remember one lady who said: oh, you have very beautiful frame in this work. Not a word about art, only a frame. Nowadays I paint without frames, not only because her but I like it so now.When I paint or draw I fly, it is more important that what someone says about my work afterwards. The prosess is the most important. Sometimes I can get so deep to myself that I can't do it normally even if I wanted.I am sorry my English, but big hug to You and thank You Your interesting thoughs and especially Your beautiful zentangle.I started a new blog, so I am sorry there isn't yet pictures about my works, but I put they there some day.

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  19. Oh, Chris. Your post this week touched my heart in ways that very few posts do. I so understand the pain caused by an unthinking, uncaring person, who doesn't give constructive criticism, but says things that are only cruel and designed to destroy the confidence of another person. If we can, we should pity those people, because obviously they are hurting and they want to lash out and hurt somebody else so maybe they won't notice their hurt so much. I bought your book from Amazon before it was even available. I LOVE your book! I'm not finished studying it yet (probably won't ever be); but I've learned a lot; not only about shading, but some new tangles I hadn't seen before. It's wonderful! Back to criticism. It took me a very long time to figure out how hungry I was for approval; and how so much of what I did had to do with gaining approval. It didn't even really matter to me if the person whose approval I was seeking was worthy of my time and effort. I'm better now (not there yet, but better). One thing I learned some time ago that helps me is: "nobody can hurt my feelings without my permission". Isn't that cool? I don't control what others do, but I can control how I respond to it. Okay! Now about your ZIA. I think it's gorgeous and I marvel at your ability to take something you had already drawn and add to it in a way that fit the challenge this week. Hugs to you, my tangle friend.

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  20. Thank you so much for your insights. You are right about the critics. I never thought about it that way before. I'm so glad you like my book. {Hugs}

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  21. There have been periods in my life when I was a critical person. Looking back, those periods were when I wasn't feeling very good about myself. So, rather than reveal too much about myself, I TRY to refrain from criticizing. And this beautiful tile deserves kudos, not criticism.Great post, love your work!

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  22. I think your conclusion that you are human is right on. It really is not whether we have the feelings as much as what we do with them when we have them. That is where we have the most ability to impact our lives. We cannot control what others think or do. Keep up the good work that you do. I really like the ZIA that you did. I have not tried what you did with leaving the white space. It took me long enough just to try to use the white gel pen. I think I like the results of yours better. It does however go against a little the basic Zentangle® philosophy of doing. It requires a lot of thought. At least for me.

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  23. I feel your pain, Cris. Criticism can be tough, but you can never please everyone.Think of a book that you really loved. Look it up on amazon, you can see how many bad reviews they get. Small comfort, but it helps a little.

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  24. Well Chris, I must say your blog this week wrenched my heart! At one time I also wanted to be a writer but I knew I couldn't withstand the criticism so that part of my life vanished. … but now I'm doing something I never would have imagined – and that's sharing my zentangle art with a community that is supportive, considerate, and encouraging. You have produced a book that will be used and learned from… and that is a wonderful accomplishment. As a retired Librarian, I can only assure you that every book has it's fans and unfortunately it's detractors, and it seldom has anything to do with the value of the book, but more about personal preference or bias. Keep your head up and be proud of what you have accomplished! On another note :), I LOVE your ZIA and how you balanced a lighter start with the darker outer part. Amazing, and beautifully done!

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  25. Cris, I adore this piece! You've done an amazing job with the ebony and ivory of it.I know how you feel. It's so easy to be your own worst critic and to personalize every potential negative comment. I find it helpful to remember that we control our reactions to events in life. We can choose to dwell on things, accept them, or find a way to move on. Like with our tangling, is a "mistake" something to stop us in our tracks, or do we encourage our students to go with the "error," even repeating it for a new pattern? Yes, you're human, which is wonderful! Why is it that we put more value in the one negative than in the 100 positives? Somehow we've been taught that the negative in life deserves more credit. No matter what, you can only strive to make yourself happy. You can't be perfect for anyone. I loved your book and learned a lot. It might not be everyone's cup of tea, and that's ok. Like art, there's something for everyone even in publishing. I wish you the best in this journey and hope you won't let negatives stop you from moving forward. For every negative, try to remember there are so many more positives. Also, some people just plain like to be negative.Ok, sorry for the long reply. Your comments touched me and made me feel for you. I've been through a lot of this too in other ways. It sounds like you're on the right path, and I hope you can stay on the positive one no matter what!

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  26. The voices of praise, achievement and inspiration are far louder than the voices of hurtful and destructive criticism. Your art is a gift, and you so freely share your gift with others. (and there may be those who will criticize THAT concept, too!) I'm glad you can share your thoughts and feelings here, and I look forward to future posts and creative works of art.

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  27. Cris – I found your book very helpful, and what I love about it is that it is written by someone who is not all po-faced about art and speaks to those who haven't been to art school, and never thought they had an artistic bone in their body!You have helped me gain confidence to shade my tangles, which after nearly 18 months I am beginning to believe in and consider them "art" – this alone is a huge step – and to have the tools at hand, written in a way that talks directly to me, to enhance these little bits of myself, is invaluable.I haven't bothered to read the criticisms – but I think it is important to remember that Rick and Maria say that the shading in Zentangle is not like the usual art-centered shading – it can have multiple light sources, and depends on the pattern, so shading can come from "all over the place," and that may not sit well with someone who has learned the "correct way."!I am most grateful that you took the courageous step to publish your book and you should be very proud of it! It is a wonderful resource, as I said, for those of us who only ever took art because we had to – and did it for the least amount of time possible! And it should also enlighten the artist (not that we zentanglers are not artists, but you know what I mean!) amongst the tanglers who need to be able to see outside the formal box they have been confined to, so they too can tangle with freedom from constraints.Thank you for your book, and do not doubt yourself or your decision to publish it!Kind regardsJakki Garlans

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  28. Re critism: I call it the vocal minority and when it comes our way, it is hard to ignore but I try to remember how many good comments came compared to the one nasty one. In your case, I am sure the ratio is many more yeahs than nays. Your book is a much needed addition.

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  29. Re critism: I call it the vocal minority and when it comes our way, it is hard to ignore but I try to remember how many good comments came compared to the one nasty one. In your case, I am sure the ratio is many more yeahs than nays. Your book is a much needed addition.

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  30. Cris, I hope you're feeling all the positive vibes people are sending your way. I love your book! Focus on all the positive reviews your book received, they defintiely out weigh the one or two negative comments. As for you zia, it's amazing!

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