The delicate art of giving and receiving feedback

Mixed media journal page created in Jane Davenport's online class 'Create Emotion'

Feedback is a great way to learn. We all need it...but can we take it? As you may know, I have something of a mixture of fear and reverence when it comes to watercolour.  My early experiments had given me enough confidence to think about taking a class. You know, an actual live in person class... Remember those? It was an evening class which already gave me pause. I take it as an indication of my enthusiasm and commitment that I signed up in the first place since, typically, by 7 p.m. I am not good for much other than curling up on the sofa in front of the TV. Anyway, I dutifully (and nervously) packed up the necessary supplies... An extensive list, as watercolour can require a fair bit of paraphernalia, and having rushed around feeding the family early, I dashed off to my class. In the second lesson, we were painting yachts on the sea. The teacher would demonstrate at the front, then walk around the class a bit while we had a go at replicating what she did. When she got to me she paused. "Hmm," she said. Uh-oh. Then she whisked the paper off the easel, held it aloft and called everyone's attention in order to discuss the problems associated with introducing too many colours, and not properly integrating them. A perfect example of this error provided by my good self. It's okay, I'm a big girl, we are a small intimate group (of strangers who met for two hours last week). I can handle it. Everyone is going to make mistakes and we will be doing this with someone else's work next... Actually no, just mine...it turned out. Too little water, look at this everyone, ...not enough paint.... Typical composition error... etc, etc. Outwardly I think I handled this admirably. You know, a bit of grave nodding, hopefully looking detached but interested. My inner child, however, had her arms crossed very high over her chest, thunderous eyes looking up through lowered brows, bottom lip thrust forward. I think she may even have stamped her foot. Well, by the third time my painting went flying off the easel I could see her point. She thought I should tell the mean lady that Lovely Jane does this so much better. Isn't it customary to begin with a random platitude? Perhaps even a "very-nice-dear-but-perhaps-you-could-try...." ? Feedback is so important, it is such a good way to learn. But I think that giving helpful feedback might be even harder than receiving it.  I think I might stick to the safety of my online classes till I have acquired a bit more skill, or a thicker skin. I'll aim for both.