Monday, 26 April 2010

Do You Have A Minute?

Here in the United Kingdom we are in the midst of a General Election. The other night there I was called by one of the political parties and asked if I would give them some time to answer a few questions. I duly did and I was very aware at the end of the list of questions he asked he was unhappy I had not responded as expected.

When you attend a conference or workshop the last thing is usually the filling out of what I call the happy sheets. Here you are invited to say what you thought of the speaker, the venue and the food. What the organisers do not really want is for you to tell them exactly what you thought of the event. So we have the happy sheets those who were not happy just did not return it.

A friend asks you what to you think of my new outfit? You think it is so wrong for her but find some nice little platitude, because you are really not being invited to tell the truth.

You were invited to a dinner and attended. At the end of the meal nobody ever expects you to say, “Well that was a boring conversation.”

How many of us know of those websites where artists post their work and they get a great many praises and those who would like to make a suggestion don’t say anything because we know that is not what it is about. I have to thank those blogger friends I have met on here that are happy to give and take some honest feedback.

There is the interesting tale of the student who went to the master and pleaded, “Master please tell me who I really am, I am lost and desperate to know my true self.” The master looked at him but said nothing. The student pleaded and begged but still the master made no response. The student got angry and in frustration turned to walk away.

At that point the master called him by name. The student said, “Yes,” as he turned. “There it is.” exclaimed the master.”

It is best to know yourself than seek to desire the praise of others. This is the way of the Tao.

I was overwhelmed by the comments and emails I received yesterday with constructive comments and active support. It humbles me that so many of you take the time.

This blog is linked to my other where I discuss the artwork:-  The Beach


  1. There IT is;-) Yepyepyep, was a nice minute or two again, Ralph!

  2. Oh Ralph,
    You're really worth the time...

    I hope you're picking up your paintbrush these days. Art never improves unless one does.

    Happy painting!

  3. I agree with what you say here, Ralph. I find that I respond in one of three ways to such things. I either find the good in a piece and comment on that aspect alone, or if I can't say something good, I say nothing at all. Thirdly, I am one who fills out the questionnaires honestly. Always worry about retribution when I do that though...

  4. alright , alright, so I did read your 'other' blog and I still say go for it.

  5. If you can already do something well, why keep doing it? If you find something that piques your interest, challenges you, invites curiosity and exploration, frustrates, delights, and opens up new possibilities, then GO AFTER IT WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH!

    I meet artists who bring for critique a painting that they think is GREAT! They want everyone to ooh and ahh an tell them it's great. Ho hum. How dull is that?!

    How I admire the artists who bring for critique the paintings that miss the mark but they are not sure why. Those who are open and curious and willing to work for their successes ... these are my favorite people in the world.

    Now, have I completely talked around your question?

  6. I agree totally with Katherine! She said it all!

  7. Hi, Ralph, it has actually become a personal policy of mine not to spend time on these 'happy sheets' (I honestly didn't know the meaning behind them until you mentioned this and this is the first time on hearing them called that).

    I always sensed that these organisations are closed of mind and my time is too precious to waste. Time is running out.

  8. well I like to try to find the good things in someones art and point it out and if I find nothing redeeming in it I try to do as my Mother always said" if you can't say something nice..don't say anything at all"..but I am not so nearly nice to myself..I am my own worse and harshest critic..sort of an " if I say it first it won't sting so much if someone finds the faults and points them out to me". But I saw your photo of the watercolor and think it is accomplished. Still sometimes we ask for feedback either to confirm what we already believe or to justify our actions. If you truly want to do watercolors then you know that without our love and feedback..but I think you can do them.