Art fair fun and feedback

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

I write this morning with a keen awareness that summer is almost here. The delicate spring colors, yellow-greens and green-whites, will soon give way to deeper, more rustic hues. Life in Gainesville will briefly slow under the belting heat and the reduction of student throngs. When I must emerge from the air conditioning, I will sweat and scurry across the open spaces, and any tree with dense foliage will be a blessing.

Work in progress

Speaking of Florida heat, I’ve recovered from my first street art fair a few weeks ago. From people taking selfies in front my paintings and several nice sales to unsolicited advice and feedback, not all of it positive, I will be back for more in the Fall if I’m accepted to the show. Art is a matter of taste, and there is no universal in this regard. One of my favorite moments happened when a woman eagerly beckoned her friend to come and look at my paintings. The friend took one glance and proclaimed, “It’s nice, but it’s not for me!” and kept walking.   How simple; how true. When it comes to art, it’s usually is like that, isn’t it? We know instantly whether something is for us. Another person–someone who bought a painting–took time to critique my work. “You should do more of the kind of painting we’re buying from you, less of the other ones,” my patron said, waving a dismissive hand at several paintings in my booth. “That other stuff is too easy.”

I chewed on this for a while. Was he right? Have I been playing it too easy at times? I gave this some real thought. As a self-taught artist, I’ve never been exposed to the brutal critiques in art schools, and I don’t usually overhear people’s negative comments because I hang my paintings and leave them for a month or two.  When people talk, I don’t hear it. So the feedback, while hard, was worth entertaining.

He did have a point, and at the moment I am indeed working on a more technically challenging painting. However, as a painter I continue to navigate by intuition, listening closely to what feels right, what sits well with me over time, and what I can live with in my work. Although some of my paintings are technically harder than others, my inner world dictates what emerges at least as much as my technical ability.

The truth is that sometimes I need to paint in a more raw, simplistic way, because to do so is its own kind of challenge–part of learning to loosen up, play, and allow things to be imperfect, not fully formed or realized all the time. Which is, for anyone who knows me well, not so easy for me at all.

Guy taking a selfie



  • Wendy Jo Ledbetter


    I am not an artist, but I do create recycled, re-purposed jewelry at sell at local events and online. Some people enjoy the pieces I create and some will say, “I can do that”, or they think it is weird and don’t like it. To each his or her own I say.

    I have attended my fair share of art events, openings. I think you are being very gracious in writing and thinking about the negative comments, but in my opinion those folks were lacking thoughtfulness. Every artist creates based on their experience, skill and emotion. When an artist presents and offers their creations to the world for pleasure and/or profit the viewer can choose to embrace or not. Even if I didn’t like a piece I would never say so and especially in front of the creator. That is just good southern manners! 🙂 I vote for you to continue creating and sharing your work in any fashion or medium of your choice.

  • Linda Blondheim

    Sadly Sara,
    You will meet many rude people at street fairs, who know absolutely nothing about art, but are happy to critique your work. Having survived two art degrees, I concur that art school critiques are brutal.

    Ignore the critics and love every moment of your career as a painter.

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