Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Stress and the Creative Process

O.K., bear with me here as I go off on another therapeutic journal rant...

The thoughts that creep into my mind during art making sometimes contradict what I know to be true about pure self expression, and that is causing me an unnecessary amount of turmoil these days.
I am well aware that I am creating a great deal of my own stress by placing demands on myself to love my art. If I don't "like" what comes out, I get discouraged, I get frustrated, I get stressed out. It still happens- on a fairly regular basis, even after trying to convince myself (and everyone I know) that it's ultimately more important to create for the sake of creating!

Sometimes when this stress gets too big, I simply paint over my piece and start again. (On the good days.) Sometimes when this need to create something "worthy of my time" (ugh, yes that's what my brain likes to think!) is not met with positive results, I retreat. And on the especially difficult days (like today), the thought of stepping willingly into this anxiety prevents me from showing up all together. How downright silly is that?! Not making for fear of what I'm making not turning out? REALLY?! I'm still having these apprehensions?!

How does an artist overcome this? Is it just a matter of practice? Do I just keep smacking my head into all the typical reasons people don't make art?! Or am I dealing with a personality issue here? After circling back to this same lesson again and again, will I ever learn to surrender to the process?

Here's where it gets really scary for me. I worry that if I can't handle this myself, how do I ever expect to teach others to navigate the ups and downs of the creative life? What kind of hypocritical teacher would I be?!

I have to remind myself (ever so gently) that I'm still learning how to be an artist and how to be brave in the creative process. Respecting my creative process and loving my art are two very different things, after all.

These are the thoughts swirling around in my mind today. And as I contemplate how to change my thought patterns from being so attached to outcomes, the words I wrote yesterday in my art journal suddenly take on new meaning...

I am always trying to make "good"
trying to make "good"...

What if
for just a small part of each day
I committed to
just showing up
and being with my art?

Being present for each moment of the process rather than trying to force the outcome,
Being mindful of the simple gifts that present themselves on my art journal page,
Being OK with exactly what my art is turning out to be
right now.

What if?

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