Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Rant: If You Can't Say Anything Nice.........

....don't say anything at all.

I imagine this is something that all of us have heard from one of our older and wiser relatives at some point in our lives. I see it as one of the great truisms of existence. Sadly nowhere is this saying more widely ignored on the internet but, I suspect none of us our strangers to this or the effect that "anonymity +audience+complete lack of consequence" has on some people. 

I can't get my head round the mentality of why some people feel compelled to post the comments they do. It probably is the most depressing thing about browsing the blog rolls and stumbling across someone's blog, which they've lovingly put together, showcasing their work which they've clearly invested a lot of time and effort in, only to see that some faceless non-entity has posted utterly non-constructive criticism. Criticism that invariably isn't backed up by any link or way of referencing the posters own work. Not that I imagine for a second anyone with an ounce of self worth, self confidence and ability would spend time trashing someone elses work. Regardless of whatever talent any of us might posess, no one wants to look like an ass in the eyes of the rest of the community or senslessly hurt someone's feelings for kicks.

Where am I going with this? 

Oh yes, "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."

Basically whenever I look at someone elses blog, that's the first thing that goes through my head. Art is subjective, we all do things differently and I honestly believe that you can learn something from everyone's miniature painting or other artistic endeavours. I've seem mini's that I consider to be poorly painted, from a technical standpoint, but the imagination behind the colour scheme or the conversion or the pose or other aspect of the piece, is something that I can draw inspiration from. Sometimes you can see what was being attempted and perhaps it didn't work, but then you think "would I have the balls to try doing that?"

Now I'm either quietly inspired (more often than not) or I'll post some compliment about whatever inspired me and go on my merry way.

I also think that if you are going to critique someone's work, you need to be clear on what is good about it before you post about what could be improved. And the "language of improvement" is, to my mind, the only valid way to critique, because art is subjective and nothing is ever truly "bad." A paint job might be unaccomplished, it might be untidy, it might be shockingly poorly colour co-ordinated, but they're never "bad." I know people who paint so the figure looks "good at arms length" and they completely achieve that objective. Obviously such paint jobs look a little (sometimes very) rough when subject to macro photography, but that misses the point entirely. Everthing else about the paintjob, the colour scheme, the shading, the light sourcing, etc etc, is all correct. It looks good the way it is supposed to look. It makes as much sense to critique that approach as bad as it does to say "impressionist" art is "not as good" as "photorealism." You might have a personal preference for one over the other, but that's not an objective viewpoint.

There is also a lot of stuff on the blogrolls which is awe inspiring. It is easy to post a compliment but, that shouldn't preclude complimenting with a critical eye. In which case it is what are the things about the paintjob which really stand out to you, where the technique actually has you baffled as to how you'd do it.

I think, and feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, that almost everyone out there in blogland is looking for encouragement and support on their painting. It is encouraging to be complimented, it is equally encouraging to have someone say "This is great and have you tried doing such and such a thing?" because that helps us improve.

Maybe there are very rare exceptions to the rule, but for the greater part, I think every miniature paintjob has it good points and its learning points.

Or to put it another way.

Every paint job is a starting point.


  1. amen.

    i must say i've not seen a lot of this sort of behaviour on the 40k blogrolls, but it is endemic in a lot of communities and it's endlessly frustrating.

  2. Agreed. I enjoy helping and being helped with painting because I know that there are those that are better I need to learn from and those that I can give advice to.
    Always make it positive and praise people for their work, it might look shoddy to you, but for them they spent a great deal of time and energy to make it look that way, and in their minds it is exquisite. And it should be treated as such.

    We all are still learning, but it feels good to read a comment of positive advice and praise.

    Great post, great post.