The process of creating is up and down. In my practice, one minute I feel everything is going well then upon closer examination it can seem like whatever I am working on has taken a turn for the worst. I have grown accustomed to this choppy kind of inquiry. It just seems par the course whenever you are pushing into areas that are unexplored. This is how it feels to wander into foreign terrain. It is also why I think most of us stick with this practice. Creating Art is incredibly informative. I always learn so much in the process.
There is one emotional piece however, that I never get used to feeling. It has to do with a different kind of unease. I am talking about the restlessness, the gradual negative shift that occurs, over time, when you are not making your Art. This happens sometimes when you are burnt out and you just need to take a break or possibly you have been away on vacation. Of course there is nothing wrong with leaving your practice. That is just life. But what I consistently have found is that when I do, within a few days, my memory of how I felt about my work when I was involved with it diminishes. As time passes I begin to feel less and less sure of my current work. I actually like it less even though I am not even around it.
I become less and less sure the longer I wait to return to my Art. This of course, is a vicious cycle. It doesn’t feel good when you think about your Art, which leads to staying away longer till you do. For me that day never really comes. I just get more involved with other things, more distracted and start settling into a mild case of procrastination.
“You owe it to all of us all get on with what you’re good at.” W.H. Auden
But finally, one way or another, I just make my self go back. It feels so forced, but I just begin. Within 30 minutes that sinking feeling of not seeing the potential in my work just leaves. The glass is half full again. Buoyancy returns and I am back in it.
So the next time you are feeling low about your Art, check in whether or not you are actually making it. You might be surprised to see, as I was, that most of the time you are not. If so then just simply remember the positive shift you might be looking for is waiting for you in your practice. You just need to return.
In gratitude, Nicholas
the founder of Art2Life.
With over 20 years experience as a working artist and educator, I’ve developed a systematic approach that brings authenticity, spontaneity and joy back into the creative process.