I’ll admit it, I was a little hesitant about applying for the Kay WalkingStick Critical Feedback Workshop. I hoped if I could get in I would get valuable information from her that I would not likely have a chance at again. I was right. Kay accepted only 10 people from the pool of applicants and I was honored to be one of them.

On Monday we gathered in the assigned room, all feeling a little nervous with our art and souls laid out for her to review. She had asked each of us to bring a CD of our work, but also at least one actual piece, explaining that you just can’t have a substitute for seeing, smelling and feeling the work.

Each of us went in turn talking a bit about our work and answering Kay’s questions about our intent, our process or our symbolism. I won’t discuss any specifics of what was said in the class because it was all so personal, but I can share some of the questions Kay asked of us so you can ask them of yourselves:

1. Do you spend at least a couple of hours in the studio every day? (about half of the people in the room were able to say yes, but Kay said that was better than she thought it would be.)

2. What is your goal for your art career? (Have your work shown in a museum, pay your bills and feed your family or somewhere in between — it’s all valid)

3. What are you looking for when you go to look at art? Does your work fulfill that need?

4. Who is your favorite artist and what do you expect their art to do for you?

5. What subject do you want to investigate?

6. How to do conceptualize your work? How do you begin (through color, image, idea)?

7. How are your pieces related to one another, if at all?

8. What symbolism are you trying to convey?

9. Who is your audience? What do you want your audience to see?

Later in the day Kay met with each of us individually and I was thrilled (and relieved!) to hear that she heartily encouraged my plans for a new series (based on the work above) and helped me focus the path I’ve laid out for the next several months. When asked if I should try to work some of my ideas out on paper versus complete paintings she said, “Don’t just work the ideas out any way you can, work them out EVERY way you can.” Excellent advice. I feel like I now have new tools for evaluating my own art and how to become more focused in my work.

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