Wednesday, March 26, 2008

"I love your work!"

What is the response to this statement? I've heard it at least three times in the past day or two, which is very nice to hear. Over the years, every time someone has told me they love my work, I've said "thank you!" But that is not what I wanted to say; I wanted to ask "What do you love about it?." I never have. Asking that question is so unexpected that I expect the compliment-giver would be stunned and maybe uncomfortable. I'd be putting him/her on the spot -- because it is unlikely that he/she would have an immediate answer. I empathize with that. What if I told somebody I loved their work and they asked me what I loved about it? In most cases, I'd have to stop and think. Really THINK. Because most of the time, my reaction to someone's work is visceral and then, when I THINK about it (if I ever do) I can figure out what appeals to me about it. But that takes work - and probably, time and concentration. Wouldn't YOU like to know, when somebody says "I love your work," what exactly it is they love about it? We're not talking about one particular piece here, this is a statement that speaks to a BODY of work. What is it about your work that evokes that response? Have you ever asked? I am going to ask the next person who says that to me, because I really want to know. Why don't you do the same? Let's ask "what do you love about it?" and see what happens. In fact, it would be interesting to compare notes -- report back and let's discuss it.

20 comments:

PaMdora said...

When they say that, I like to ask which one is there favorite. It's always a different answer and sometimes surprising and keeps the converstation going.

Rayna said...

Great idea, Pam.

Beverly said...

Ask- I don't think it would make me uncomfortable at all. As a relative newbie trying to learn a new language, I try to identify just what appeals to me when I have that visceral reaction to a work. It's one way to learn design principles when your conversation partners are limited!

Nellie's Needles said...

When I've been guilty of that nebulous phrase, it's been because I'm too busy or too tired to figure out the "why", but I wanted to leave an indication to the creator that I felt a response to their art. It's either that or nothing during those times ... and we all like getting comments.

TALL GIRL said...

It is a polite way of validation without any expense! I usually interpret it as they like the work but can't afford it.

Gerrie said...

Well, I will just tell you why I love your work. The complexity, the layers of design elements, the unexpected color combinations, the surprising things that you find in one of your pieces.

Cathy in gorgeous Sonoma County said...

I like your use of layers and the thought that goes into adding layers. I wonder at your thought process when you combine pieces. I like the fact that they make me think.

Natalya said...

I just came back from seeing your exhibit Studio Six and I looove your work! I was mesmerized by the layers of colors and textures implied and real. You could stand in front of a piece for an hour and keep discovering something new. Wonderful exhibition, congratulations!

Liz said...

I love the depth I see in your work, the different layers... the way you don't see everything at once but things are revealed the more I look at it...

Karen said...

Oh Heavens, ASK! I love your work...It has such vibrancy to it. Your color combinations are unexpected and they work together. The texture you achieve in balance with colors and design work together to make your work look so alive. It has a real spark.
I dont find this question uncomfortable at all, and like you, would love to hear the reasons behind the proclamation!

Russ Little said...

Very good question. I hate to admit this, but when I hear "I love your work" my inner critic kicks into overdrive. Who is this person? Oh, what does HE know? She's only saying that to be polite? Etc. It takes me a moment to regain my footing and accept the complement for the gracious act that it is.

I too say the polite "Thank you", but what a wonderful beginning to a real conversation it would be to say "What do you like about it?" I'm going to do it!

BTW, I love your work because it's bold, strong, and unguarded. In the pieces that I've seen, the color and composition are assertive, but balanced. They're images with which I want to spend time.

Vivien said...

I went to the Studio Six exhibit yesterday and yes, I love your work. The luscious colors immediately attracted me to your art. On closer inspection, I love the textures within each piece, the complexity of all the images you show, and how all the divergent pieces you sew together create such a vibrant, cohesive piece. I'm thrilled I could see them all in person.

Susie Monday said...

Count me in. By the way, I love your work because of the unusual color combinations, the movement and rhythmic richness and the playfulness of your tools -- particularly in the soy wax fabrics. I like the history that reveals itself in your fabrics.

Terry said...

I love your work for the reasons others have already mentioned, plus I love the crispness and contrast, which I find very refreshing in surface design. Your work has a real sense of intent. I'll bet asking what one likes about our work will fluster a lot of people, but I love the question and think it's a good one to ask. Sometimes you don't really understand your own feelings and preferences until you try to articulate them.

Angie in AZ said...

What a wonderful question to ask! I'm seriously going to get the courage to ask the next time someone compliments my work! Thank you for the prompt!

Deb H said...

It's a great question, & I think I would feel complimented if you asked it of me. It would mean that you were interested in my thoughts & feelings. I've always just said "thank you", & never knew what to say next, but I think yours & Pam's are both good questions to reply with.

Oh BTW, I LOve Your Work!;)

Meg in Nelson said...

I'm with Tall Girl, though I'm severely under-tall.

Meg Rogers said...

Rayna, I love the color and the movement, but that is not enough. I love the way all of your work makes me think - they are almost narrative - I feel as if you are telling me a story with each piece.

lyric said...

Ask, as Pam said, "What is your favorite thing about it?" After seeing Fiber Arts International in Charlotte Dottie Moore took me by surprise and asked "which is your favorite and which one do you wish you had made?" I hadn't ever thought about it that way before and I thoroughly enjoyed the journey it took me on.

So go ahead and ask!

Rayna said...

great questions,Lyric! Thanks for sharing them. And thanks to all of you for your comments, although that wasn't really my intent. I hope you are asking the question about your own work.