When the Artist Meets the Critic …

Photo by Lia Leslie

There was once a great Artist.

In her youth, she brought her artistry to everything she did: dancing, drawing, singing, and writing.

She didn’t draw a line between creating and playing. Playing was an integral part of whatever she was creating.

Her heart was filled with light. She felt alive with passion, curiosity, and inspiration. Her enthusiasm permeated everything she did.

Then one day she met the Critic.

The Critic didn’t create art himself, but he had lots to say about her work. He made piercing comments and judgements about everything she created.

The Critic started hanging around the Artist quite a bit. The more time the Artist spent with the Critic, the less interest she had in creating art.

She began spending her time watching and comparing herself to others, desperately trying to fit in. She lost her center. Her path became dark and uncertain. Her inspiration withered.

She wanted to shield herself from the Critic. But the more she looked outside of herself, the stronger the Critic’s voice became. Now, just like her Critic, she too began spending her time commenting and criticizing others.

The artist grew up into a lovely woman, but her light that once shined so bright was overtaken by shadow.

Then, one day she met a young girl fully absorbed, playing with paper, scissors, and glue. This young girl was busy creating, indifferent to what others thought about her art.

The woman saw her own Artist in this young girl and she began to remember who she was.

The woman began feeling lighter. She started to sing. And dance. And laugh with joy.

She remembered that she, too, is an Artist. In that moment, she became free once more.

Know the Critic’s Place

The Critic can be seen out in the world, but the most pernicious one lies within us.

To be sure, the Critic has his place. He’s important because he helps us see a different perspective.

The Critic can be a powerful ally who shows us the darker side of things as well as the flaws or weaknesses in our creative ideas and work. He can point out areas for our improvement. He can help us stay grounded and humble.

The Critic also creates doubt. Doubt is healthy for psychological development.

The Critic’s place, however, is after we create, never before.

Celebrate the Artist

But too many of us allow the Critic to rule us, dominate us, own us.

Contain your Critic. If you leave him unchecked, he will silence and disable your inner Artist. And when that happens, we all suffer the loss.

Your Artist is your connection to love, light, joy, imagination, enthusiasm, play, passion, and wonder — all of your creative power.

Your Artist is the gatekeeper to your soul. Nurture her daily and she will become a continual source of joy and meaning in your life.

Like a delicate butterfly, she is gentle. Be kind to her. Give her space to grow. She wants to fly. Let her free.

Originally published on scottjeffrey.com.

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