Issue #18 |

Uncle Not So Happy

by Eileen Coristine

Process: To Carl White it’s more important than the finished piece. Grant Berg describes it as creating visual poetry and KJ MacAlister says hers is meditative. But during my process I encounter my inner critic, that voice that says I suck, my ideas suck and that everybody gets this but me. Here are three suggestions I’ve tried for silencing (or at least temporarily gagging) the inner critic so you create some art (or at least get out your supplies).

1) Name your critic and make a visual representation of him/her.

When I was young, a jolly (if often inebriated) uncle lived at my house and was called Uncle Happy. In later years I did a caricature inspired by his memory. Once, another uncle came to visit. I’d just got into colouring and proudly showed him my latest crayon work. He told me it just looked like “a bunch of scribbling”.

Taking the suggestion above, I made a new piece with a frowning face and eyebrows like inverted teepees called Uncle Not So Happy and hung it in my studio. New advice says to remove the critic’s image during art making. In hopes that they will amuse themselves elsewhere and let one get on with it I suppose.

2) Speak to your inner critic in short angry sentences.

I said “Uncle Not So Happy leave me the &*$# alone!” “I need to process,” I shouted. I said so many short angry things that my husband ran in to find out what was wrong. Just what I needed, another critic.

Now I’m taking Uncle Not So Happy out of the room, having strong words with him and turning his face to the wall. If only the old &#*@ had just gently asked me about my process all those years ago.

3) My advice is to tell your inner critic “I make fine art. However it turns out, it’s fine with me.”

I hope you enjoy whatever you’re doing and find art in the process.

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