(The reoccurring Spinning Head Syndrom)
Questions in my head.
And there it is again. This question "Why am I doing all this?" Why am I doing art? What is the point? Who is benefiting from it? Does actually anyone want to see or even buy a piece of my art? If not, does that change the game? Why do I make my life harder with wanting to achieve so little in so much time? Is it worth it to invest so much money and time into learning another skill? And another skill? What is actually my goal? Do I want to prove it to someone? Is it all just feeding my vanity? Do I do it out of an ego trip? Out of insecurities? Why the hell do I spend so much time on something which doesn't even feed me?
Is it enough that I like what I create? Is it enough to create beauty? What if it turns out to be ugly? Should I continue this piece? Should I continue this style? Should I continue at all? Does it even matter, if I do art when there are so many other more brilliant, more witty, more skilled artists out there? Does my art have a meaning? Does it need to have a meaning? Are my creations good enough the way they turn out? Shouldn't I be better by now? Am I good enough? Will I be good enough one day? Wiser, more skilled, more famous, better paid? And who the fuck is judging? And who does care about the judgment?
So many questions. And I ask them myself frequently. Repetitively. This is exhausting. Draining. It sucks out all the energy I have. And the answer - even though it is always the same answer - does not come easy.
How do I come to this point where I can accept the unknown and uncertainty in my art and artistic process? Where is the place and when is the moment I truly can be patient with myself and my art even when it feels like an unsolvable problem and I lose my perspective and feel lost in this humongous world. But it works. It works better every time I go through this process. And not even a harsh critique, rude comment or total misunderstanding of my intentions, my art, or my person can throw me off my path for long.
A gift you are supposed to give
A very dear friend once said that me not doing my art is stealing from others. Because then I would refuse to bring the gift I carry into the world. I like this perspective, where I assume that every human has something to contribute to this world. So there is no good reason for wanting to have someone else's skills or style or ideas. There is no point in judging.
. I just can bring to the world what I carry. And to bring it into the world is my duty as an artist, as a human being.
How to undermine yourself
Expectations play a big role in this discussion with myself. Expectations I might have towards myself. Expectations I learned from society, the art world, or potential customers. To figure out what my expectations are and setting them into the right frame does help me to let go of some of my expectations. For example, I just started doing a month-long challenge to draw "One Self-portrait a Day" by observation through a mirror. The first drawing was pure pleasure. I liked the process, the tools, and later on the outcome. I loved to share it and invite more people to join my challenge. The second portrait was already harder. Because I wanted to achieve a portrait that was the same quality - or let's be honest, I wanted it to be better. By now a bunch of enthusiastic colleagues joined me in this challenge. So I now can project my expectations and my fear of not achieving onto them. Like "Them might not like it. They might think it is not good enough. They might think I am imposter". Clever me. (not.)
I believe, that doing art is a way of expressing oneself. And there is no right or wrong way of doing this. Because "me" is not a goal or achievement. "Me" is just what my body, spirit, mind, and soul are right now.
To find out about the actual me, my original*, I need to dare to look into all the depth, all the shadows and darkness there is. This includes my limits and shortcomings. And why I struggle with them. And I also need to be able to bathe in my own light, my talents, and resources. Not sure which one of the two is actually more difficult.
Since recently, I am certain that the art I do today is exactly the art I am meant to do today. It is who I am right now. This is what I can contribute today. And whether I or someone else likes it or not, is irrelevant. I try to remember that I am as little just my biggest successes as I am just my failures. One of my biggest joys in life is to inspire others. So to inspire others to shine their light as bright as it is onto the world, I need to do the same first.
Today it feels like I can use all this doubting and all the questions like a thorough spring cleaning. What does spark joy? What is still useful to me and what is allowed to go? And still, I become impatient. And upset. Trying to feel my body in these times makes it easier. Reminding myself on how much my body enjoys this flow-feeling, playing with the materials, getting dirty in the process. No outcome needed. Freeing myself from expectations and judgment. Deep breath. Phases of self-doubt and confusion are normal. Maybe these thoughts are even the essence of what it is to be an artist. To question the status quo. To question the world. To question yourself. Your art. If art is a way of self-reflecting it also means that art is a way of learning about myself. And the world. And my relationship towards it. My position in it. By questioning myself I question what I really want in life and what needs some adjustment. And when you ask a brain (or a body) questions, they will come up with answers. You "just" need to listen. That's the hard part, though.
And after I have done "the work" I can start over with fresh enthusiasm. With a more precise idea of who I want to be and what I want to do in this world. Today I know this. And more and more I am able to remember this shortly after these uncomfortable feelings of not knowing and the questioning start in my head. It’s an ongoing journey. And I look at it as my biggest adventure.
Sometimes, when I create, it happens to me that I feel one hundred percent alive. And that's a damn good "why" to me.“
What is yours? I'd love to hear that.
PS: If you are interested in looking into these kinda topics with a coach who is also an artist, click here: https://www.simonerichter.eu/private-clients