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So I’ve been reading Heart of the Artist by Rory Noland (that’s my “arts and mime” related book of the moment, in case you’re wondering why I’m reading several at once).

It’s been great so far (I think I’m about half way through).  Each week I read a chapter and I think it’s the best and most needed (for me to read) yet!  And that happened again today. But today’s chapter was so good that I wanted to share brief excerpts of it.  Things I needed to hear and I think others could, too.  There’s a part especially relevant if I ever have (or ever do) ask for your feedback on a mime or story or something of mine.

Good quotes:

Sometimes those of us with artistic temperaments get defensive when we’re criticized. We can be overly sensitive, and we let the least little thing hurt us.

In effort to protect our self-esteem, we open ourselves up to something more damaging than a bruised ego, and that’s deception. Believe me, being deceived about your abilities is far worse than knowing and accepting your strengths and weaknesses.

Because [we artists are] going to pick up a lot of things [that others might not even notice], we need to be careful that we don’t pick up something that’s not really there. Our intuition is not infallible.

If you’re taking something personally but are not sure it was meant to be taken that way, check it out.

To be vulnerable is a price every performer pays… You pour your heart and soul into creating something, and you hold it protectively in your hands. When it comes time to show it to the world, you open your hands up slowly, hoping no one will kill your brainchild before it has a chance to become something. Because art is such a personal thing, it’s difficult for us to separate ourselves from our work.

And here are some words about offering feedback.  Most of these are edited down and paraphrased.

What makes criticism constructive is the way it’s delivered. If it’s not offered in a loving way, it can do more harm than good.

  1. Give your overall reaction first.  If your overall reaction is that it was good or great, say that before pointing out any flaws you found.  Often, we take for granted that the person knows it was great or we fail to say that aloud simply because it doesn’t seem specific enough.  But “remember, to the artist who’s excited about what the or she is working on and seeks your opinion, your first words represent your overall reaction.”
  2. Try to say something positive and let positive words be your first.  Give feedback in a way that shows love and respect and treats the person with dignity.  Mention strengths before weaknesses.
  3. Acknowledge the hard work and effort that was put into something even if it failed.  They did not work to fail.  “Most people have no idea who many hours an artist has invested in a performance or in a work.”
  4. Avoid hyperboles and negative comparisons.  Don’t use hyperboles even in a positive sense.  Avoid any uses of “that was the best,” “that was the absolute worst,” and the like.  Also, don’t emphasize something by comparing negatively to something else.  His example was calling a piece of music “warmed-over Tchaikovsky.”
  5. Be honest.  Don’t be warm-fuzzy and fluffy and make things up or exaggerate.  Be honest, but give the truth with love.  And don’t be trite.
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