Don't you love getting compliments? I do. When I play golf and someone says, "nice shot" I say "thank you!", hoping they were talking to me. If someone says to me, "Gee, you don't look that old" I say, "thank you!" even if they are lying. Hell, even when I know they are lying!
My paintings are usually whisked off to some public location as soon as the paint is dry, so I very rarely get to hear what others may be saying about them. I always hope they are being well received, but I don't always know. So when someone pays me a compliment in person, I find it very special. But it is interesting how people compliment. Here are some authentic compliments I have received:
- "That looks just like a photo!" To which I always say, "thank you!" Even though I really try not to copy photos. I try to make my work look like how the human eye sees. In my view, if my painting is too photographic I failed. But to 99% of non-painters, photos are the ultimate in realism, so if in their eyes my paintings look real, then I'm OK with that.
- "Gee, that's Norman Rockwell good!" To which I always reply, "thank you!" Technically, Rockwell was an Illustrator and not a Fine Artist, and a landscape or seascape is not an illustration. But since Rockwell is my idol, and a great American Painter, if someone wants to compare me to him-- cool!
- "That's just as good as the pictures my Aunt Bertha used to make!" To which my answer is, "thank you!" If Aunt Bertha was the only artist that person ever knew, then that's their yardstick to measure the quality of art. Hey, if I'm Aunt Bertha good, I'm happy.
- "You could be as famous as Picasso someday!" To which I smile and say through gritted teeth, "thank you!" Even though a Picasso is the opposite of everything I stand for, he was famous--I'll give him that much. And again, if that's the only famous painter this guy knows, then what can I say?
You may have noticed that the common denominator here is that I said "thank you" to each and every compliment. They may be wrong in their assessment, but who am I to say? I have actually witnessed "artists" chastise a person for giving them the wrong compliment! God has made a special place for people like that. It's called Hell. The least I can do is thank someone who goes out of their way to make me feel good. Of course, the sweetest compliment is when someone opens their wallet and hands me a whole lot of hard earned portraits of presidents. But between you and me, I don't paint for the money. To me, payment for a painting isn't a reward for my efforts, it's a reminder that every day I get to do something I love.