About a year ago my purpose for painting shifted from something I created for the outside world to something I do as a therapy for myself (you can read more about that in this post). Art has become an expressive outlet and a coping mechanism when I become overwhelmed with the world around me. On my best days, when I get into the creative space I become calm and clear. The demands of the world diminish, the significance of how my work will be evaluated by others lifts, and I simply get immersed in the blissful process of creating.
While on vacation in Arizona a couple weeks ago, I found myself invigorated with inspiration as I walked through galleries of the Scottsdale Arts District. For the first time ever, I was able to envision my own art hanging on the future walls of those galleries. This was an encouraging sign of how far in confidence I've come over the last year and a half. I truly felt capable of getting to place where my art would be worthy of such display. I didn't think much about what attracted me to this idea, until just the other day.
In fact, recently I was invited to participate in a collaborative art show. I spent a month working on three pieces for the show. Switching back and forth between creating for the enjoyment and creating for the audience, my creativity and motivation stalled a number of times. I wrestled with the pressures I placed on myself to produce sellable art, which became inhibiting at times. Many times I wanted to give up but I had the lingering expectation of a deadline in play. Finding a balance in my expectations was crucial in order to allowing creativity to flow. In the end it was a good exercise in pushing myself through the doubtful voices and fears of failing and gave me a great sense of accomplishment to call them finished.
In talking to a friend about taking my art more seriously, as a career, I was advised to figure out what it is about doing art that I love the most and decide whether I want to share that with the world. At first I struggled to find an answer for this. Although the desire is there, I've been a little confused about my reasons for sharing or selling my art. I've realized that I had adopted the assumption that the only reason for an artist wanting to show their work publicly is to become known or recognized as an artist. But this doesn't quite resonate with me, nor does it fall in line with my values (in fact, the attention kind of makes me feel uncomfortable). Feeling conflicted by this narrow view has created a procrastination in starting something new. I now understand this hesitation as a result of questioning my intentions behind the desire to take my art to the next level, not wanting to want to do it for the wrong reasons. But deep down I know there is something else, something more driving this desire.
|"After the Rain"*|
So if it is not for the attention or the fame or the money, I ask myself what is driving me to put my art out there, where does the attraction of creating for the public come from? I'm learning, much like in my writing, and many other areas of my life, for me it's all about connection.
Last Friday, I attended the opening reception for the show my art is in. As I observed from the sidelines, I noticed one viewer that seemed more invested in my work than anyone else. She spent a lot of time gazing at, talking about and expressively gesturing towards my work with a friend. When she finally moved away I humbly approached her and commented that I had noticed her looking. She asked if I was the artist and said to me, "I don't want to know your story." I wasn't completely sure what she meant by this, but decided to take it as a compliment and instinctively replied, "I feel things very deeply." She went on to explain that the girl in "Becoming" looked so much like her 12 year old daughter and that she saw herself in it too. It moved her so much it had brought her to tears. Then she told me she was going to buy it. I learnt that she had art on display as well. As hard as it was to see this painting taken off the wall so quickly (at that point it became very apparent how attached I had become) I knew it was going to the right person. I discovered a purpose in the idea that something I created from within was capable of resonating with another so deeply. I didn't know this person, but my artwork created a meaningful connection between us. We found a mutual comprehension of the expression this piece delivered. Through her affection for this painting I felt understood on a creative and emotional level, and it is my suspicion she felt her own version of this from me. And, perhaps the silverest of linings, something I created has something important to offer another, enough that she wanted to hang it in her home.
So it is here that I will share my most recent creations with you, internet world. Whatever it may evoke within your soul, trigger in your emotions, or simply inspire in your creativity, it is my hope that it has something of worth to offer for you. Enjoy.
*Originals available for sale at the And Art Gallery in Davidson, SK