If so, you are not alone. We are afraid our artwork will be criticized. This translates into “They are criticizing me.”
Writers have the same problem. They are afraid that people won’t like their stories and that they will get a bad review.
But sharing our work is an integral part of the arts. Where would we be if every artist kept his or her work only in their studio?
Art should be everywhere! YOUR art should be out there making our world more interesting.
We Compare Our Work to Other People’s Work
This is a big pitfall for many artists. They see other works and say that theirs are not nearly as good. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder so some people might like your art more than the other person’s pieces.
There is no artwork in the world or in history that was loved by every person who saw it. In the same way, some people like to read Steve King novels. Other people do not. Yet he has written over 50 books, even though many people don’t enjoy reading horror stories.
Some people like to watch Kevin Costner movies. Other people don’t think he’s a good actor and don’t enjoy his movies. But it doesn’t stop him from making more movies and getting them out into the world!
It’s perfectly okay and normal if some people don’t like your artwork. Some will and some won’t. That’s okay. Make and show your art and some people WILL like it.
Our Artwork is NOT Who We Are
We must be careful not to think that if people don’t like our art then they don’t like us. Your art is something your created. It is not you.
There are artists who are very different from their paintings. They may have a sweet and gentle nature and draw monsters and gargoyles.
On the other hand, there are writers who write love stories but they are hell to be around.
We are not our art.
Talent is NOT a Requirement
We all have tendencies toward certain things. Some are naturally good cooks, some are innately good at home decorating.
But these skills can be learned.
I could go to a French cooking school and come out knowing how to create delicious meals. I could take courses in interior design and décor and be able to make a room look very attractive.
In the same way, I could take art courses and create a very respectable painting by implementing what I learned.
Even if a person is not in a financial position to take art courses, he can learn from YouTube videos, library books and just studying the paintings that he would like to emulate.
But even people with masters in arts degrees can’t create artwork that everyone on the planet loves. Their work will appeal only to a certain group of people because that is the way art is.
Not everyone will like my fancy French meal either.
The 3% Rule
Decades ago when I was learning to write and sell ebooks, I read that a writer is going good if 3% of the people who read the sales page buy the ebook.
I found that statistic shocking, so it stuck with me all these years.
I was taught that if more than 3% buy the book, then my price was too low.
If less than 3% buy the book then either my price was too high or my sales page was not doing its job.
So now, what about my paintings? If I take my paintings to an art fair and 100 people see them, only 3% will like them? Maybe. Or maybe more than 3% will like them but they don’t have the money to buy them.
But some WILL like them and some might be able to buy them.
Is it realistic at 100% of the people who see my paintings will like them? Not at all.
This is the nature of creative works.
Art is a Business
We create things that someone else might like to buy to make their own surroundings nicer and more attractive.
Carpenters do the same thing. And brick masons. And architects. And all the other professionals who create something to make the world a more attractive place.
When we think of art as a business, we tend to take it less personally. We create a painting or sculpture or whatever in hopes that someone will want it in their home or to give it as a gift.
So we seek to improve our skill and gain some insight into what people want in their homes. It has been my experience that people like bright paintings with plenty of warm colors and a sense of light.
These could be abstract, impressionistic, plein air or realistic. It could be flowers, landscapes or fantasy. The world is our oyster.
But your experience might be different. You may live in an area where people like the masters and want a darker painting with a very ornate frame. If that works for them, that’s great!
Art is a business.
Art is a Hobby
If art is your hobby, you don’t care what people like because you don’t care if you sell any of your pieces.
You create for the sense of satisfaction that creating something gives you.
People who knit are the same way. There are millions of sweaters for sale in the world, but they knit one in order to feel the sense of accomplishment. They enjoy the journey. The act of creating a sweater from a skein of yarn makes them feel productive and creative.
If you create your artwork as a hobby, you are doing it to enjoy the creative journey. It doesn’t matter what others think about your finished product because you didn’t make it for them. You did this for yourself and your own good pleasure.
And that’s all that matters.
Hobby artists show their work but don’t necessarily put a price on it. This is a good way to start if you are very shy about showing your work. Just mention that painting is your hobby and that you do it for enjoyment. If someone likes one of your pieces, they will ask if you will consider selling it.
Hobby artists may be the most free of all the artists. They can explore with abandon. They can create any artwork they feel like – every day. They are not constrained by what people might like to buy.
For some people, this might be the best way to improve. Freedom has a way of allowing us to be all we can be.
Artwork Can Be Given Freely
When you are not confident enough to take money for your artwork, think about giving a piece away.
If someone says they like something you made, give it to them.
They will hang it in their home and tell people about you and your artwork. It’s good publicity. When the new owner expresses her appreciation for your artwork, others will follow. It’s human nature.
Be sure to sign your piece on the front. I use Posca pens to sign mine. If you have business cards, attach one to the back.
I have heard artists online complain about people who want them to paint something for free. I’m not talking about that. If someone asks you to do some artwork, by all means charge them a fair price.
I’m talking about gifting something to a friend who has encouraged you in your art journey. Or someone who has a birthday coming up.
I’m not saying to give all your work away. But occasionally, gifting a piece can brighten your day and bless someone else.
If you are too shy to enter an art show or sell your pieces online, you may be able to break the ice by occasionally giving a piece away. Your confidence will grow as you think about your work hanging in someone else’s home.
In a world that is all about sales and advertisements, you can’t go wrong by being different and giving something away.
Vincent Van Gogh Sold Only One Painting
…in his entire lifetime! Now his paintings sell for thousands of dollars.
The folk lore that only one painting sold in his lifetime may or may not be 100% true. But it is true that he didn’t sell very many.
Yet today, people all over the world love his artwork.
So you cannot measure the quality of your work by other people’s opinions. Opinions change all the time.
I may love something you make and the next person doesn’t like it all. Yet, it’s the exact same painting. Does the second opinion change the quality of the work? Not at all.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
If you are shy about showing your artwork, you might just be thinking about it incorrectly:
- Your art is not you. It is just something you painted or constructed.
- If someone doesn’t like your artwork, they will still love you.
- Only a small percentage of people will like your artwork enough to spend money on them. Art is a business.
- Art as a hobby can be very liberating.
- Other people’s opinions do not change the quality of your work.
- If you are shy about selling, give a piece of artwork to someone who shows an interest in your work.
- Give artwork as gifts. Sign your work and attach your business card to the back.
- Even famous artists do not sell their paintings until the time is right.
Members of this website community can have a personal page to display their artwork.
If you are too shy to show your work to the public, your page can be kept private for members only to see. When you are ready to show the world, we can make the page public.
Your work will not be critiqued here. You do not have to worry about people saying what they don’t like about your artwork. This website is about encouragement, not criticism.
You do not need a gallery of paintings in order to display on this site. If you have a favorite piece of artwork, that’s good enough.
Feel free to contact me about how to display your artwork on this site.