How does an artist judge their own work?

This is how I would answer that question.

What most consistently matters to me is where this piece is taking me, so my liking, or judging a work to be good, is never entirely about that work–but something I see before me, something that doesn’t yet exist–or hasn’t been realized (as in, made real). That may be something I don’t see until later, after I’ve made–maybe–many many more pieces. Finding the almost hidden signs that mark the trail. I find it most satisfying when those are the pieces that others are drawn to — like, ah! they get it!

Imagine having the entire oeuvre of an artist before you, seeing each piece in the order of its making for the first time, and trying to suss out what will come next, or what will represent the apex of their life work, never knowing if that point will ever be achieved, whether the next piece will be a detour, a dead end, from which the artist never returned, but continued to turn out work that failed ever again to realize the promise of what they had done before–it’s like that, only I’m the artist. THAT describes the character of my anxiety about my own work. Nothing that anyone else will see till my work is over.

There’s a Yeat’s quote, along those lines–I believe he writing about William Blake. “In the beginning of important things—in the beginning of love, in the beginning of the day, in the beginning of any work, there is a moment when we understand more perfectly than we understand again until all is finished.”


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