In Praise of the Gallery
In Praise of the Gallery
To be honest, I don't actually know where I would be without the POL gallery. It is very possible that I would not have learned what I know now (even although that is still pitifully little) without all the feedback and help I have received over the years. I might not even have continued painting. Painting is a lonely business and when I started I was confined to showing what I produced to my husband and daughters. What resulted was varying degrees of 'Mmmmmm..' which didn't really tell me a lot. When pressed, they would collectively mutter words of approval. In hubby's case I felt it was more that if he didn't say something nice, then he wouldn't get any dinner that evening. Hardly encouraging. Several years ago, just after starting painting, I stumbled across POL via the two magazines they produce. When I first joined, I was extremely hesitant about posting any paintings, as I felt that the only reaction would be people rolling about, holding their sides. Gradually though, I gained a little more confidence and started posting my work. When I look back at what I posted, I hang my head in shame. However, you have to start somewhere and at the time I obviously thought my paintings were good enough. It is to the merit of all the kind souls on the gallery that they left nice and encouraging comments and eventually, I began to get the hang of this painting lark. I continue to post my work today for two reasons. One is that it gives a focus to my painting - is it good enough to post on the gallery? - what will the reaction be?, etc. This helps me set a standard for myself. The second reason is that I really value every single comment that people make, whether it is complimentary or points out problems with the finished work and this is the only yardstick I have to gauge how I am doing. I have learned so much from this feedback and every piece of advice is squirreled away to be brought out when doing future paintings. If I was just merrily painting away in my garret (well - summerhouse in the garden) I feel I would be the poorer for not having the constant input of a viewer's opinion. It is so hard to assess one's own paintings and often the viewer goes straight to the heart of the matter in a nanosecond and you then wonder why you didn't see it before. Perhaps, if I sold paintings I would get some feedback that way when people put their money where their mouth was, so to speak. However, I don't, so this avenue of feedback is closed to me. I also gain great benefit from seeing everyone else's work. The diversity of the paintings posted never fails to amaze me. The subjects that people choose to paint often has me totally baffled, but that is what makes it so interesting. The skills that people show in producing their paintings often leave me gnashing my teeth in frustration at my ineptitude, but when the red mist clears, I learn from many of the amazing paintings displayed. I have gradually learned over the years how to assess paintings to the point where (I hope) I can leave a sensible and relevant comment. You can't comment on everything, but there will always be paintings which jump out at you for a variety of reasons and those are the ones I choose. I like this interaction with other artists, especially when conversations start about a particular painting. The gallery has increased in size enormously since I put my first post on some years ago and each day sees a great number of new works appearing. There is such diversity on it now that it has become a community in itself - you get to know people, have a joke with them and follow particular people's work - all of great benefit to us isolated artists. So for all our moans about the creaking vehicle that is POL, I give my vote to the gallery because without it, my art doesn't have a voice.