How do I not do art?
This seems like a strange question but here me out.
I have struggled with this point over the years.
Today I decided that I would NOT go into my studio and paint even though my logical mind tells me this is the best way to ensure productivity with my art.
My art expression is shared mostly between sculpture, painting and drawing, each one allowing for a unique part of myself to come to the fore, yet ultimately I classify them all as ‘doing art’
How is it possible that you can like and dislike doing something at the same time?
Enjoy it while being bored with it.
Want to do it, while resisting it.
Such a strange relationship I have created in relation to art and creating art.
Art is a long time passion of mine and often through the years right up until now I struggle with creating it.
For instance lately I have been working on some new paintings which I am quite enjoying however I still struggle to get myself into the studio. Its like there is a kind of wall of resistance there that I must pass through and once through it still have to conjure up some Self-Will to stay focused on the task at hand, all the while encountering completely fulfilled moments of creative expression. But then 5 minutes later “I have had enough” and have to deliberately will myself to stand there and keep going.
The same can be said for my sculpture process. I spend the most time each week doing this yet, there is a degree where “it feels like a job” and that’s when the resistance come in and the relief when I make it through the week.
Yet I still do enjoy it, and experience a passion within me to continue to expand and deepen my expression. But this passion is more something that I know is there but have to continue often without. When its time to get up at 7am to go to work, my passion seems to be missing in action, then I have to just go through the motions, get up, get moving, and eventually my passion will join me for an hour or two at some point during the day, then mysteriously disappearing again.
I am being a bit jokey about the whole thing but honestly it has gotten to a point where I question if I even want to do or like doing art for instance due to how much resistance I have towards doing it and how it seems like a car that just won’t start and here I am, pushing this car around when I wonder “why won’t the engine just turn over” it seems like that would make it so much easier to move if I could just drive this car instead of pushing it around, and so I question WTF is going with my apparent passion.
So today I took some advice that I received last year and I decided that I wouldn’t just blindly follow the thoughts in my head that not only insist that I do some art but that also persist in insisting that I do it all day long or whenever I am not in my studio.
In standing back and observing the nature of my mind and my thoughts and my experience in relation to doing art lately, I have begun to question whether following my inner demands to “Just do it” is actually supporting me or supporting in creating art to my utmost potential.
I see its important to push oneself to walk through resistances. I don’t expect things to happen easily, although sometimes things do or seem to flow naturally and ultimately that’s more the affect I am going for, I would like my paintings to flow naturally, and I have been busy with this directive for quite some time with some success but also some stuckcess ( I know that’s not a word but I mean, its kinda cool)
I have been working with my Starting Point especially when it comes to my paintings because my paintings aren’t yet something I depend, rely on, or expect to sell as readily as I do my sculptures and so in a way I have a cool opportunity to explore painting without a lot of financial influences. of course I am always considering the financial element to my work, though, not having it as of yet being part of my primary income I have an opportunity to be more creative with it, and even personal, which are some aspects I have been exploring of late as a way to have my painting expression actually be enjoyable and not something I am forcing to happen which I feel like I have been doing, and so have needed to make some changes. Despite these changes, my experience the past few days has got me wondering if there is something else I can do to just free myself and my painting expression so that it flows more naturally and not something I have to force which I still experience here as a part of my painting practice and so today, I decided I wouldn’t paint.
Instead of I decided to bake some cookies and slow cook a stew and just focus on doing that and chilling the F out.
The problem I have been observing about my experience and behavior around my experience in relation to painting is that when I am not painting, I am DOING NOTHING, I am just distracting myself and thinking about how I should be painting and should get back into the studio. I want to be productive but its like the creative flow just isn’t flowing. So I am wondering here if my recipe needs some adjustments, tweaking, and aligning. I am enjoying the painting I am busy with right now which is Awesome and I credit that to some adjustments I made a few weeks back after a discussion I had with my Wife, where I began taking off the constraints a bit and just allowing myself to paint without worrying so much about if it was going to be good or if it was seen as good or if I was following the rules, or if it was marketable, essentially all the Shit that as an artist you know in your heart you are actually supposed to not care about. So I took off some constraints as a way to help me get some natural flow in my creative expression and it worked to a degree but holy mother of pearl if I don’t find myself back in a sticky, stucky, unflowy experience again where I am enjoying myself yes, and the art I am creating, but I have to fucking beg the fucker to flow. So back to the drawing board with some adjustments and this adjustment ( which is the reason I had time to write this blog) is about BALANCE.
You’d think the best way to create a lot of work is to just work all the time. That may be, but HOW does one work all the time so to speak where that work time is natural and comfortable and engaging.
I am finding I can’t just simply tell myself to work all the time. Its like I must find a way for this to be more of a natural expression where I want to work. Or at least more natural, of course I understand that I will always have to challenge myself and move through resistances but I can also explore this point of not creating unnecessary resistances that are more self induced and could be let go of.
The Principle of BALANCE is that I allow myself to do Other things with my time and life. Things that I actually enjoying doing outside of art. Or something that might come up spontaneously in a moment or for a day where I think, Hummmm, I’d like to do this or that. Instead of shutting myself down, I actually allow myself to do that.
Like reading a book, or baking cookies, or slow cooking a stew, or going to the beach or watching a movie, or going out for coffee, or going for a drive or, going shopping, or visiting with friends. It could be anything.
What I have been doing is more limiting my routine to kind of just have times where I can paint and that is what I do with my extra time, but then what happens is I often don’t want to but force myself to anyways. Then I spend 3 days forcing myself to work where I am kind of into it and kind of not where I am working intermittently and trying to get a flow going and just cutting everything out of my life so I can have the time to paint instead of allowing myself to do other things that I enjoy where for instance then Id have one solid day of painting that I actually WANT to do instead of three days where I am kind of not into it but forcing myself to be there. In a way I wonder if having the one day might be more productive in the end then spending three days trying to force myself to work.
So that’s the theory anyways, and today I decided to put it into practice and am still making peace with my Art Demon that is writhing away in the corner of my mind insisting I should paint.
One thing I found today is that I was actually less stressed and enjoyed myself. I enjoyed not having to think about when I was going to get into the studio. But it took a deliberate decision to say that I was going to focus on this other task that I had been thinking about doing and just allow myself to do that and not worry if I would get in the studio or not.
As I sat down this morning with my espresso to write in my notebook, after about 30 minutes I began to notice an anxiety rising up within me and this anxiety I observed is often here as part of my daily experience. This anxiety is related to “how productive I will be with my painting” and “not wasting time” by not painting. This anxiety experience was showing me that my current relationship towards painting was resulting in this anxiety experience and so I required an adjustment.
I did notice once making the decision to allow myself to Do something else today, that I relaxed a lot more and the anxiety subsided.
I will continue to explore this word BALANCE in relation to my Living and my relationship to art.