I spoke to someone who is struggling to show up for their art. He walks by his studio and looks at the unfinished work on the table, and keeps walking…
At the same time he shared the real pull he feels to make art. He feels called to create!
Right now I’m working on some ideas that make me feel uncomfortable. So much so that I started one of my drawings months ago and then avoided it as much as I could. I was scared. Did I have the skill to achieve the results I imagine? Will anyone get it? And where will I show it? I’ve been rejected most places since arriving in Texas.
This tension between the call to create and the choice to show up and do it will always be with us. We all need to find our way to cope with it.
The call to create is aspirational. It’s about dreams, putting down the ideas we have in our mind, and adding joy and happiness to the lives of those who see it.
For me, it’s also about being seen, affirmation of the work (and me), and changing lives.
I felt grandiose writing that! But it’s in line with this notion of purpose, of being called to create.
Separately, we have the act of creating. This is very tangible and includes the labor of doing the work. Sometimes it’s fun and goes smoothly. Sometimes, not so much.
So we return to the safety of the aspirations we hold. Of dreaming of the art we could make, sitting with the pain of not actually making the art.
The thing we often seem to skip is realizing we experience pain or discomfort in either state. We either remain in the dream, wistful and longing. Perhaps regretting. OR, we face the discomfort of making art that doesn’t (YET) meet the vision of our aspirations.
It’s why, even though I still keep fighting it, I’m back at that drawing, much closer to done. I want to make those aspirations a tangible reality. And the ONLY means of doing so is showing up and making more art.
Here are three things that help me continue to show up:
Create several works at a time
When I have works at different stages of completion it means I can jump around if I get bored and I always have something to work on.
Leave every studio session with a plan for the next one
I always know what else I want to do in the pieces I’m working on when I show up in the studio because I make that decision in the previous session.
Show up even if its 5-10 minutes
If I want until I have big chunks of time available to me I’ll accomplish little. James Clear talks about the long term benefits of small commitments to ourselves and I stand by what he claims (check his book out called Atomic Habits). I’ve made more art by allowing myself only 15-20 minutes most days than if I had waited for that bigger chunk of time.
I don’t want you to feel that pang of frustration and jealousy when you look at someone’s work and think, “I could do that.” I want you to pull out images of your own and reply, “Great! Here’s my work, too.” Because you have listened to that calling and are taking the risks you need to make more art.
So, how can you start facing the work you are avoiding in your studio? And if this isn’t you, how have you navigated this in the past? Be sure to comment below to add to this conversation.
I’m currently conducting research to support Artist Strong’s community. I’m working to create resources and programming that helps self-taught artists go from feeling stuck in their studios, wondering what’s next for their art to having a plan of practice that helps them build their skill and develop their unique artist voice. They become excited and proud to share their original art with loved ones and begin to see themselves as artists.
If this is a transformation you seek, please choose a time for this 15 minute call below. This is not a sales call; I believe talking to people inside our community is the most valuable path to creating relevant resources for people like you.