Every few months the art department invites a visiting artist to come and do a critique with the graduate students. Most of them are professors from nearby schools, but sometimes they are more prominent painters. For the last two days we have been spending time with Jerome Witkin. He is a phenomenal painter with works in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and in the Hirshhorn Museum in D.C.
Getting a fresh perspective on our work is always helpful. It is easy to get stuck in a rut talking to the same teacher about my paintings all the time. Having someone new to discuss my work with gives me a fresh start, even if they say all of the same things that my professors do (which is usually the case).
Now that the two days of critiques are over, it is time to apply what was discussed. The visiting artists always leave me with ideas that I need to get down quickly so they don’t fall to the wayside.
The visit with Mr. Witkin was very educational. It is always an honor and a privilege to meet such a high caliber of artist, and I look forward to whoever they find for our next critique.
The end of the semester can be very stressful. I see it all the time when we are stressed and deprived of sleep, the sassiness inside us likes to creep out into our personalities. There is one simple strategy to abide by: don’t sweat the small stuff.
1. Become a better listener. “It’s being content to listen to the entire thought of someone rather than waiting impatiently for your chance to respond.”
2. Resist the urge to criticize. Criticism is like a bad habit. Try to catch yourself of being critical. Take criticism into respect.
3. Choose your battles wisely. When you are selective in choosing your battles, you will be far more effective in winning those that are truly important.
4. Make peace with imperfection. Why are we also so focused on what’s wrong? When we focused on imperfection it actually ‘pulls us away from our goal of being kind and gentle’. Sometimes you need to enjoy and appreciate the way things are already.
5. Do something nice for someone else and don’t tell anyone about it. When someone does a good deed to another, immediately they want to mention it. It is like they are trying to seek approval and praise for the good deed. When you don’t mention the act, there is something magical about not telling anyone. Keeping it to yourself will retain all the positive feeling and your kind actions can be a “pay it forward” reaction.
Everybody has gotten worked up about things, upon closer examination, aren’t really the big things. Commit to your goal and you will find that you will have far more energy to be kinder and gentler. In tough situations, take the time to think about what’s going on in peace before you blow an anthill into a mountain.