Sometimes you just don’t feel like it. And feelings are powerful.
Feelings, and the inspiration to create go hand-in-hand. There are times when we are so out of touch with the feelings that inspire our work that it feels impossible to confront the canvas.
This is because we are out of touch with more than our desire to create. The recently deceased Prince Rogers Nelson, leaving yet another hole in the fabric of the culture as far as I’m concerned, used to say that the inundation of media, keeping us informed of every tragedy across the globe, is more than our bodies are designed to handle. In terms of the body-mind connection, this makes sense. The “why bother” ennui that saps our impetus to create moves beyond the studio.
I’m not saying that we should become numb to the troubles of the world by tuning them out. We don’t have to. Sadly, by virtue of our hyper-awareness of the relentless pain of so many and so much, for the most part we already have.
I contend that in order to become more effective as artists we must conserve our psychic energy.
“What difference does it make that I complete this installation when the world is controlled by evil corporate interests, we’ve already destroyed the planet and the voices of the exploited and abused are barely heard? When the climate indicates that there may only be 50 livable years left on earth? What am I doing about it? Who cares about this exhibit?”
Well, if thoughts like these cause you to dedicate your life full-time to activism via protests, fundraising, civil disobedience and volunteering that is highly commendable. But most likely, they do not.
Because deep inside, despite being nearly-doused by cultural inundation, the flicker of the fire of meaning you want to create awaits as an ember. This fire of creativity is fanned by immersion in the work, and the self-care that enables such focused attention.
The creation of meaning through art requires consistency and conscious living. In other words, rising to the occasion of your work requires a kind of ruthlessness in the protection of your time, energy and space. Consider for yourself: What is non-negotiable? Regular painting hours? Studio visits? Deadlines to add the teeth needed for completion? Classes? Applying for residencies? Marketing efforts? (That is, if you believe as I do, that a work of art is not complete until it is shared.)
Given the unrelenting pace of the 21st century, structured solitude, accountability and support have become more important to the Innovator than ever. We cannot afford to let the problems of the world become an excuse to allow our creative voices to become silenced.
It is imperative that Creative identify, put into place and maintain the constructs that will hold her. As a coach specializing in artists who find themselves overwhelmed and stuck, this is what I’m about. If you don’t know what these constructs are for you, seek a mentor, find an accountability partner, get rid of cable, do whatever it takes.
Above all, get out of isolation.
Isolation is not solitude; it is the absence of support. Isolation is a dream-killer, and by extension, company is stronger than will. So choose your company wisely. If you want make a difference, don’t hang around people who think they are doing so merely by bemoaning the fate of the world.
After all, if there is some mass conspiracy afoot to numb us into complacency through the proliferation of fake news, your work, and being relentless in its creation, becomes a subversive act! What you create can evoke the feelings, ideas and original thought that are vital to our our human experience and evolution.
That is why you must allow your work to be seen. Do not turn your back on your art or its promotion by minimizing its importance. That’s an all-too-common way that we let ourselves off the hook. Keep showing up for the work.
Paint! Sculpt! Innovate! Vive la Resistance!