Tag Archive for constructive artistic criticism

Helping Others to FInd Their Artistic Voice and Share Their Souls – Part Two

Nancy Smeltzer,art quilterNancy Smeltzer, MFA

I’ve become Net friends with a woman named Sian Lindemann on Facebook and a creativity site we’re both on, The Purpose Project. Awhile back, in one of her postings, Sian gave me the idea for this blog when she wrote about how she got more clear about her own path by helping others. I realized that was true for me also. I have been encouraged and inspired by many people over the years and now am trying to do some of the same thing for others.

In a previous posting about my Artist’s Voice, I wrote about how I feel that rather than having so much of a voice, I have a distinctive style. Well, after being a professional art quilter for over 30 years, I do have certain ways of creating and stylistic approaches that I fall back on, because for me, they work. So now, I hope that in this blog, and the comments that I make on-line, that I am offering some of the insights that I’ve gained and am trying to help others. Not that I feel that I have the one true way to create art quilts, or any other medium, nor would I suggest that others become as obsessed with buttons and beads as I am. (You should see how raggedy the tips of my fingers are from all of that sewing, as I can’t stand to have thimbles on my hands.)

So what do I get out of helping others? I know that for me, there’s an honoring to those who helped me and of passing on techniques that have been around for generations. I don’t have children, but I’d like to think that those I’ve taught over the years have some pieces of me from insights that I’ve either said or written about that are getting passed on into them. Hopefully, they will pass on their own insights, sort of as in “each one teach one”. Some might find it egotistical that an artist would even take the time to express herself in her art when they are so many pressing issues in the world. My take is that we each grow when someone else is inspired to show a piece of their soul, which to me is what each piece of art is. Think of how precious a child’s piece of art is lovingly given to someone else, and was created “just because”. I want to be the kind of person that would see the heart in each piece I come across, even though the technical skills aren’t there yet.

I taught 7th grade science for 27 years, but there were times when I asked my students to make a drawing of what they were seeing. I wasn’t asking for a piece of “art”, I was just asking them to make an outline of the experiment they were constructing or what they were seeing under the microscope. How sad I was when so many of these 12 and 13 year olds forlornly proclaimed that they couldn’t draw. Where did they learn that, except from some uncaring soul when they we’re younger who squashed their natural desire to draw and paint.

I love this quote by Howard Ikemoto, a contemporary artist and teacher. “When my daughter was about seven years old, she asked me one day what I did at work. I told her I worked at the college – that my job was to teach people how to draw. She stared at me, incredulous, and said, “You mean they forget?” Now here is a child that had not had the ability to create art socialized out of her!

So, my suggestion to all of us is to be kind to those who have the courage to produce and to put their work out there for others to see. I especially ask you to consider what you say to children. My take is that as each of us finds our own way of being creative in the world, our energy begins to resonate with those around us, and we all begin to find our artist’s voice.

How have you been encouraged in your artistic pursuits? What have you done to encourage others? 

Why not leave a comment as to your thoughts on this posting. Please take a minute, fill out the form below or by clicking on the “comments/no comments link” at the top of the posting, and then share your ideas with the rest of us. We all grow when we share our thoughts and impressions, so why not join our growing community of those who appreciate art quilts and textile arts. We’d love to hear from you!… and PLEASE tell like minded souls about this blog! The more readers and contributors, the more I write because encouragement helps the words flow!

You can see more of my art work on my web site at www.fiberfantasies.com (be patient as it loads; it’s worth it), my healing work at www.transitionportals.com and can find me on Google + , Facebook (for Transition Portals) Facebook (for Fiber Fantasies),  and Twitter.

To find out how to buy my art work, please check out “How to Buy my Art Work” in the “Pages” section to the right of this blog.