On Criticism

Why is it so easy to remember all the criticism we get but so hard to do the same with the praise? I don’t know about you, but I can vividly remember all the negative things I’ve been told, while the praise I receive usually goes in one ear and out the other. It makes me feel good for a fleeting moment then I completely forget about it. But the criticism…that lingers forever! Why is that?

While you think about that, here are the beginning few stages of my newest painting.

Steps 1, 2, and 3
Steps 1, 2, and 3

I can still remember the (luckily very very few) situations from my childhood when someone said something mean to me. Here’s a good one. In the 7th grade, I wore a sports bra and a boy told me I had a uni-boob (I know, what a strange thing to say to someone…). Yup. That one stuck with me. Yet the thousands of nice things people say just somehow vanish from my memory. But the uni-boob comment is with me for life! Why is that?

And continuing with the progression of my painting…

Steps 4, 5, and 6
Steps 4, 5, and 6

Why do we value critical comments so much more than the nice things we are told? Isn’t this why everyone loves and hates Simon Cowel? Although he can be very mean, we consider  his thoughts and opinions to be superior to those of the other judges because he isn’t scared to say what’s on his mind, even if he crushes the souls and dreams of young artists.

And back to the painting tangent… the end is near! 

Steps 7 and 8
Steps 7 and 8

I guess that’s the way I see things too sometimes. I assume that if someone says something critical then it must be true. In reality, more often than not, it’s simply a manifestation of their own insecurities. Yet we still aim to please those who are most critical in our lives.

Go ahead, be critical. Here is my finished painting. 

Autumn Drive - 48x36" - Acrylic on Canvas
Autumn Drive – 48×36″ – Acrylic on Canvas

Why am I writing about this? You probably think that someone said something very critical to me and it got me down. In fact no, quite the opposite. I’ve been getting nothing but praise recently for my artwork (THANK YOU) but found myself completely disregarding all of this praise. I usually nod and smile and forget about it. Instead of using it to fuel my fire, I take the compliments and just completely disregard them. I find myself waiting for that critical person to come by and say something rude so I can prove them wrong. So this post is a reminder to myself, and to anyone reading, to listen to and believe those compliments. And while there’s definitely a place for constructive criticism, just plain old criticism usually comes from a place of hate and shouldn’t be regarded as having any much truth unlike the nice things we are told.

This painting is quite huge. The largest one I’ve done in about 7 years… Here I am standing beside it to give you an idea. 


Rant over. Let’s go paint.

Like this painting, Autumn Drive? Want to see more pictures of it? The original painting is available for sale on my website here and on Etsy.

P.S. If you’ve been waiting patiently to see how my online ads have been doing (money wise) come back tomorrow for a review of the month of July. If you think talking about money is tacky, then don’t come by tomorrow 😉 Cheers!

Cheating – Part 2

[If you haven’t read Cheating – Part 1, then start here]

So continuing from the previous post, I’m going to continue shamelessly going through a list of offences I commit while painting.

6. I trace any object I can find to make my life easier.

I don’t own any fancy shmancy drafting tools (although as an engineer, you would think I would finally invest in some). Actually, I don’t even own basic ones, like a ruler beyond 10 cm in length. So instead I use random objects around my apartment when I need certain lines/curves. Canvases make good straight edges while lampshades, lids from various containers, and candles make great circles/curved edges.

I actually free handed the rest of these lines
I actually had to free handed these lines


7. I don’t like washing paintbrushes so I use the same one far too long.

This one really just comes down to laziness. I don’t like having lots to clean-up, so I avoid getting things dirty. I’ll use a palette knife instead of brushes whenever possible since they can usually be cleaned by just wiping them with a wet paper towel. When I use paintbrushes, I’ll use the same one to the point that there’s dried clumped on paint all over the bristles. It adds some interesting effects to the painting…[sometimes…] When I reach this point, I usually call it a day.

Strings Attached - Violin - Acrylic on Canvas - 48x20"
Strings Attached – Violin – Acrylic on Canvas – 48×20″


8. I don’t use any painting mediums. 

I’m aware that this stuff exists since I see it in the art store all the time, and I’ve heard others discus “priming the canvas” but I really have no idea what they’re talking about. Apparently there are mediums to speed up/delay the drying time, change the texture of the paint, and many many others. There’s a whole (overwhelming) section devoted to this stuff in the art store. I like to keep it simple: paint+brush/palette knife. Easy. Breezy.

Unfortunately the Dollarama doesn't carry this size of canvas
Any texture you see is the result of globs of paint, and not a medium.


9. I buy canvases at the Dollarama.

Unscrunch your nose! No, I don’t exclusively shop there, since they only carry the very small sizes, but you can bet that all those little ones are straight from the dollar store. They’re gallery wrapped [ie. staples are on the back and not the side] and I don’t notice any difference in quality. Just price. $1.25 versus about $5, yes please!

Unfortunately the dollar store doesn't carry canvases this big.
Unfortunately the dollar store doesn’t carry canvases this big.


10. I use acrylic paint instead of oil.

I used to paint with oils when I first started painting about 7 years ago. Oils are rough. First, they need to be thinned with either turpentine (which is super toxic) and/or oil (I used linseed oil). Next, they take FOREVER to dry. Weeks to MONTHS!!! I like painting in layers, and letting each layer dry before adding the next one, and when it takes several weeks for each layer to dry, it takes several months to finish a painting. I think “real” artists paint “wet-on-wet” but I find that far too difficult. I put my hands all over the painting as I go, and I like to sketch out guidelines with chalk. You can’t do that with wet paint on your canvas. Trust me. I used to get paint on absolutely everything, and oil paint is toxic and not washable, unlike acrylic paint. As I’ve already mentioned, I hate washing paintbrushes, and that hatred probably started from my days of oil painting. That stuff just does not wash out! I love acrylic paint <3 Dries in minutes, washable, non-toxic, doesn’t require thinning… Just lovely.

All acrylic baby
All acrylic baby


11. I copy my own paintings in different combinations to make new ones.

I find things that work (usually by accident) and then I run wild with it! With regards to this violin painting, I had the idea for the acoustic guitar first, really liked the finished piece, so have done 3 other instruments since. I also noticed that my paintings with people walking with an umbrella were a big hit, so I threw them into many paintings. Sometimes looking identical as before, other times wearing new outfits. I suppose this is a giant step up from copying other people’s paintings, which is what I used to do when I first started painting.

Exhibit A
Exhibit A


So basically this list concludes that I am cheap and lazy. The engineer in me prefers to call this efficient and resourceful.

Check out the reflection in the mirror for a sneak peak at what's on my easel.
Check out the reflection in the mirror for a sneak peak at what’s on my easel.


Thoughts? Do any of these confessions surprise you? Can you relate or am I in fact just cheap and lazy?!

Like this painting? Strings Attached – Violin is now SOLD but check out my other listings here.


And the Winners are…

Drum-roll please!

I numbered each of your comments (1-16) in the order they were posted, then used a random number generator to pick the winner.

And the winner of Painting 1  is:

Winner 1

Painting 1

And the winner of Painting 2 is:

Winner 2

Painting 2

Thank you to everyone who entered! I really enjoyed reading about your wine preferences. Lot’s of good suggestions for next time I’m out picking up some bottles.

Carlos and Lynn, if you could both please e-mail me your mailing address at agatasartcorner@hotmail.com then I will get those paintings sent to you.

GIVEAWAY – Win one of my paintings!

I came across a post yesterday by fellow artist/blogger Jann Alexander who blogs over at Pairings: Art + What Goes With It and she wrote about the close relationship between wine and art. She mentioned how artists often paint wine, paint while drinking wine, and galleries will serve wine while people look at art (buzzed/drunk people buy more art!). I realized that I love having a glass of wine while I paint, and I’ve also painted wine several times in the past. I searched through my archives and came across these two gems.


I’m feeling generous this morning (too much wine? Just kidding) so I’ve decided to do a GIVEAWAY as a way of saying THANKS. Specifically, thanks for reading my blog, ‘liking’ my Facebook page, sending me comments, buying my paintings, or commissioning a painting. I’m so grateful for all of your support in all these ways and more.

The first one is an oil painting on canvas paper that I did probably 5 years ago. It measures 8.5×8.5″.

Painting 1
Painting 1

The second one is a conte drawing that I did probably 7 years ago. It measures 7×10″.

Painting 2
Painting 2

You can win one of these two works by simply leaving me a comment telling me what your favorite type of wine is and which painting you’d prefer [Painting 1 or Painting 2]. Or if you don’t like wine, tell me that! Contest is open to residents of Canada and USA only and closes at 9am EST on Friday, July 19th, 2013.

Get an additional entry by ‘Liking’ my Facebook page. Just click the ‘Like’ button on the right side panel, and leave a second comment telling me that you like me on Facebook. 

I’ll announce the winner on Friday July 19th, 2013 and I will mail you your painting. Good luck 🙂

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