Episode 14: No Commenting!

Feb 2, 2015

In this episode, Stewart Cubley discusses one of the basic ground rules of a Painting Experience workshop: Why are we asked not to comment on each other’s paintings?

An excerpt from this podcast about not commenting on process paintings . . .

There’s a basic ground rule that we undertake when we start the painting process: It’s the ground rule of not commenting on each other’s paintings or processes, and essentially creating an environment in which you know you’re going to have the freedom to create without the influence of others’ opinions. Sometimes this feels a little rigid. You might wonder, “Why can’t I comment on other people’s paintings? Some of them really move me and I would just like to be able to say, hey, I really enjoy what you’ve done.”

It may not be immediately obvious why we do this, but it’s very important. Not commenting on process paintings allows us to go deeper in our own internal exploration. For example, there are sometimes people who come into The Painting Experience who have been wounded in art school or other courses in which there’s been critiquing. And sometimes this is so harsh that it creates a situation in which a person abandons their creative process. It can feel almost like institutional abuse when you have to subject yourself to the opinions of teachers and other people, when you have to explain what you’re doing and take a lot of negative feedback.

So that’s one reason why it can be liberating for someone to come into an environment in which we’re not doing that, but I would say the same holds for positive comments. This is perhaps not so well understood. But just imagine that someone walks up to you when you’re engaged in this process – there’s no model or theme, you’re not being told what to do, there are no rules about what it should look like, there’s no one measuring your progress — and this person says, “I really like what you’ve been doing. Your painting moves me so much.”

That becomes quite confusing, because when you’re working in process you’re already dealing with a cacophony of internal voices. At one point you may like what you’re doing and at another point you don’t. You’re finding your way in this inner landscape in which you have your own judgments to deal with; you’re learning to navigate your own experience and the last thing you need at that point is external judgment coming in.

Listen to learn more!

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