Artists like Authors, Need a “Reader”: The Value of Trusted Feedback

Have a best friend…..

who you trust to tell you the truth?

I have a best friend who will tell me the unvarnished truth. It’s cheaper than therapy. I am a better person because she is the person helping me keep moving in the right direction in my personal life.

 The idea that an artist works in isolation and without feedback is a myth. Artists need friends working in the art world.  Critique groups, guilds and professional organizations have been keys to my success.  These groups are where I can connect with people who are important to my art life .  In my new community I was lucky to find a few people who, like a best friend;  give me unvarnished feedback. 

Most successful authors have a person who they call a “reader”: Someone who reads the first draft of novel and provides feedback. Often this person is a spouse or best friend who is not writer. They have important qualities.

Stephen King’s wife is his reader.

  • First, this reader doesn’t have “skin in the game” like an editor or agent looking down the road at sales.
  • Second they are familiar with a body of work not just a single manuscript. Overtime the reader has seen many books in the early stages.
  •  Finally  they are trusted. Trust is the most important quality.  It is developed overtime and is not easily abandoned or replaced. A reader has complete trust  in the author’s commitment to the artistic process. The author trusts the reader to provide thoughtful and productive feedback. 

Like an author, an artist needs someone to look at work in progress. I often ask my husband to step into my studio and give me his thoughts. Lucky for me, John is able to point out an issue with a composition quickly. (The downside is he is not inclined to spend anytime explaining explaining his thought process.)  That’s why I have a critique group. Within that group there are individuals who give me valued unvarnished feedback. 

One of my struggles when I moved away from Colorado was finding my art “tribe”.   In the small town of Mesquite, I joined the local gallery and connected with a couple of people, but the community did not have the wealth of fiber artists I had been accustomed to in Colorado.

When I joined a quilt guild in nearby St. George I was introduced to many members who were art quilters.  By the time we moved to St. George I knew a small group of art quilters that wanted to participate in a critique group. 

After meeting over several months our little group has begun to jell. Seeing each other’s work over time and various stages of development has opened the door to becoming each other’s readers. We trust each other.  I am taking full advantage of this gift. Now I would not consider working on a project without sharing my progress with my critique group.  

Before I finished this recent quilt called “The Narrows” one of my critique group members pointed out an obvious problem. This is much more successful thanks to her.

Since our group meets once a month, I take advantage of using facebook and other social media. I post images and occasionally I ask for feedback. This is such a time saver. When I look at a project over many hours I get blind to some very obvious issues. Like many artists I use my camera to help me identify problems with composition, but this is not foolproof.  When I was more isolated in Mesquite, I would close my studio door and do other things for a couple of days until I could look with a fresh set of eyes. 

Now I can put a quilt up on facebook and ask for feedback.  Within hours I have that trusted “suggestion” that only certain people can give. Lucky me!

Until next time…..

You can see my work…….


Under The Western Sun
Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum, Golden CO
April 27 – July 25 2017
The Macey Center 
Socorro, NM 
July 24 to September 11.

National Quilt Museum, Paducah Kentucky
June – September 2017

Sacred Threads
Herndon VA
July 7 – 23 2017 
Flint Festival of Quilts, Flint MI – September 2017
HeART Gallery, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Toledo, OH – October 18-30, 2017
Grace Episcopal Church, Gainesville GA – November 1 – December 15, 2017
Voice of the Spirit Gallery, West Raleigh Presbyterian Church, Raleigh, NC -January – February, 2018
Southeastern Quilt & Textile Museum, Carrollton GA – March-June, 2018
Good Shepard Episcopal Church, Hayesville NC – July, 2018
The Rectory Cultural Arts Center, Norcross, GA – August, 2018
Virginia Quilt Museum, Harrisonburg VA – September-December, 2018
Best of the Valley Quilt Show, Lindsay, CA – April, 2019
A World of Quilts , Danbury, CT – May 2019

Festival of Quilts
Birmingham, United Kingdom
August 10, 2017 – August 13, 2017

Southern Utah Museum of Art
Cedar City Utah
June 30 – August 26 2017

The View
St. George Museum of Art
St. George Utah
April 28 – August 16 2017


35th Annual New Legacies
Lincoln Center
Ft. Collins, CO
July 5 – August 26

Interpretations: Conversations
Visions Art Museum
San Diego, CA
October 21 2017 – January 7 2018