The Value of a Good Critique

Whatever your endeavor, it is important to expose yourself to critique, and equally important to learn how to handle it. Learning to be critiqued and not feel stung is a very powerful tool that can be honed with practice. Practice can slowly trickle in over the course of a career (I could wallpaper a whole house with the rejection letters I have received) or you can actively seek it out to speed up your learning process. (more…)

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Colossal Failure – the Upside

Tania Dibbs, contemporary art, art
Life, 72″ x 48″, oil, (Sold)

What is the death of a good piece of art in the making? Loving it too much. Once you start to become attached to the outcome of the work you are in the process of creating you run the risk of becoming too careful to work with freshness and spontaneity. If you are thinking, “This thing is great! I don’t want to make the wrong move and mess it up now!” then you are doomed. Mess it up and get on with it already. Edith Wharton, the American writer, said, “Art is freedom of the spirit.” There is no freedom in worrying about how well you are performing.


Lots of my favorite pieces were at one point colossal failures. The fall from the excitement of possibility down to the realization of mediocrity and wasted hours and wasted materials is a long one but doesn’t really hurt once you get used to the feeling. Put that piece aside, and when it has been sitting around long enough that you have no feeling towards it, put it back on the easel and see what you can do. If you don’t need time to “heal” then start reworking it right away. Discipline doesn’t just mean getting into the studio – it means staying there. Be patient and keep working until your piece starts to have a direction. There doesn’t have to be an “end.” There is no place where you have “failed” and have to stop there. You are just not done yet! Keep going! The marks of your struggle are part of the piece. Stay with it until you can look at it critically but not judgmentally, which might take a lot of banging your head against the wall first, but that is the place from which you can be engaged and detached at the same time and therefore  truly creative.

If you have a regular art practice then you are probably accustomed to this cycle. By now I can recognize the pattern so easily. When I do fall into it I try not to pay it any more mind than I would a fart. Just move on. Besides, I love the feeling of freedom you get when you don’t care about your piece anymore. And remember, you are learning the most from the struggles, not from the cakewalks …. Just like life!

To see my own example of a painting that was taken to the brink and back, click on the pics below. This piece is my current favorite. It is a 72″ x 48″ oil called “Life.” Just like the real thing- full of colors and messes and scrape marks and contrast and layers and history.


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Painting Goal for the Month



Don’t rush. Be with a certain style of something and don’t look at it and say, “Boring, I have done that brushstroke so often that I want to change it.” Instead, stop trying to say anything at all with the art…… Just do it and just be with that brushstroke or technique and wait for it to evolve if it does. Some desire in the back of the mind is enough impetus for the art to move forward. Thinking is just an added force that supports artistic schizophrenia. I guess this boils down to having faith in the process and one’s ability. Once in awhile you can really feel the truth of the fact that it is just art and there is no right and no wrong and that is inspiring!



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Larger Sculptural Pieces

Lately the size of the forms has been increasing. I am onto this hive/pod sort of thing:


It is always a challenge not to think too hard before I get going on a project. Thinking too much causes me to try to adhere to a theme, or reason, or to make only variations of what I have already done. For easier marketing of an artist’s brand this would be great, or IS great, but for creativity it isn’t great. I prefer to try to work enough that a cohesive body of work comes from quantity but not at the expense of the creativity. Maybe this is why my overall body of work as an artist can seem a little schizophrenic unless you see a lot of it at once, but I dont’t know how else to capitalize on subconscious creative capital.

On another note, I would like to thank my high school art teacher, Mr George Juliano, for his tecnical support. Check out his work at his Etsy shop here



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Sculpture Progress

The jewelry-inspired sculptures have continued to morph. A good art conversation with Bob Chase helped inspire me to enlarge the scale of the pieces and to think a little more broadly about them. I have been trying to think enough to expand without thinking enough to let the thinking overpower the inspiration and creativity, which can happen. Looking back at where I’ve been seems to work better for me than planning meanings ahead of time which allows an air of contrivance to sneak in and kill my art buzz.

This one is exciting to me – it looks like something under a microscope:


Vector, 21" long, sculpture
Vector, 21″ long, sculpture, beads, wire, wax


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Artist Statement

Random, organic, orderly, beautiful, and organized: Biology is the master order that underlies the structure of our world and lives. Its patterns are random, spontaneous and irregular but also systematic and repetitive. An array of cells dividing becomes the components of the living person, which becomes the society and its circles, which makes up the culture and its spheres. A nebula viewed through a telescope resembles the cell dividing. The view under a microscope resembles a landscape; the landscape’s components look like organelles.




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