Awhile back I did a painting of an autumn landscape. Without being able to express why (something to do with colour), I was quite pleased with the results. I framed it and hung it up in a prominent area of our living room. I was proud of it. Then came my friend, I will call him Sancho (he would love that). Sancho is high spirited, kind, honest, and sometimes clownish while not being an idiot. An all-round good, fun guy.
So Sancho sees my painting on the wall, and gives it careful consideration. “What is it?” he asks. “An abstracted autumn landscape” I say. He says “It looks like a brain”. I say “no it doesn’t – look at it, man!”. He says, “it does. It looks like a grey brain – but it’s a nice one.” The conversation continues in this vain on and off for the rest of the evening.
“The Brain” has become our running joke and as running jokes do, has played a part in cementing the friendship of our two families. He never misses an opportunity to make fun of it and I never miss my return opportunity to act outraged and smug over his “obvious lack of artistic sensibility”.
To be perfectly honest that first taste of anything other than praise got under the skin just a wee bit. This is something, however, I will obviously have to deal with if my paintings are ever to see the light of day.
Not everybody will love the work we do. Most of those who do not will tactfully keep it to themselves. Those who are brave, honest or close enough to us to provide kind, productive criticism are doing us a real service. Now, when I look at the painting I certainly DO see a brain. I know that in the future I will watch out for such compositional blunders. Had it been pointed it out before the painting was finished, I would have made a few adjustments.. So, thanks, Sancho (I think?). You are a true friend.