Making work is a private thing--like thoughts. In private, in our heads we are free to explore anything, even the dark, the illegal and the socially unacceptable, its only when we choose to make these thoughts public do they become a matter of issue to consider.
And this takes great courage, even if you paint pictures of flowers or kitty's--putting them on display for others opens you up to being judged, because when judging a work of art--cruelty can be so easy to accomplish because the work itself doesn't react--only the creator does.
The beauty is the work of art itself couldn't care less about the critic and will go on being what it is despite our words or thoughts. Its like the food critic who bashes a chef, the food itself was fine with what it was, and fine in its own way, even if riddled with toxins, what does the food care?
Perhaps the best thing for an artist to do is listen, learn, but really don't take a bit of it to heart--because all is opinion--not fact--some may be useful--most will not.
This is the struggle I have with teaching, is my more informed opinion really worth anything beyond what the student has already put into the work. I guess this is what I'll struggle with the rest of my career.
I can only be sure of my work--and sometimes even that is a hard one to digest, as I'm not always sure about my work. I know there are more talented all around me, but it doesn't seem to be stopping me.