How do you stand not being the best?

Comparison is a tender spot for many an artist.  Last week, at an art exhibit where I had a piece on display, I heard myself repeatedly minimizing my painting.  I had already walked around the exhibit and seen the work of masterful artists, some of whom had been painting for their entire lives.  Inwardly, I went into “I’ve only been painting for five  years.  I’ve learned what I’ve learned from online classes, my own practice and experience.  I never went to art school.”  In other words, I diminished my art and myself.

When someone complimented me or said they liked the painting, I said “You’re being kind.”  I heard myself nearly apologizing for my piece!  Where on earth did all of this self-denigration come from?  Thinking about it in retrospect, it feels painful.

Yesterday, when a friend said I should send an online portfolio of my art to a larger venue, like San Francisco or the bay area at least, I nearly laughed.  “You must be kidding!” I said.  But she wasn’t.  She had seen several groupings of my art and said that she recognized my unique style.  “You have a style,” she said.  “Why not try?” she queried.

So here it is, in my face once again–the artist produces a product.  It matters less about the “expertise” of the painting as to what the process was for me.  What is the journey I took to bring this painting into fruition?  Did I take the journey with acquiesce or protest?  Did I allow myself to be guided by the question what next?  Did I push through the “ugly” stages and arrive at a better place?  Did I say what I wanted to say?  Did I fall in love with my piece, finally?  I DO NOT HAVE TO MAKE EXCUSES FOR ANY OF THIS!

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Being an artist, like being a human, isn’t about comparison.  It is about SELF-EXPRESSION, your personal process and if you so choose, sharing your gifts with others.
In the Desiderata, the author reminds us “always there will be greater and lesser persons [artists] than yourself.”  

Finally, he says, “Be cheerful.  Strive to be happy.”

 

 

Sometimes, it is just practice

a bright idea, a rush of enthusiasm…these spark you and you begin to write and then…nothing…flat…blah…halt.  a false start.  the flow is gone and you put the poem or manuscript in the bottom drawer of your file cabinet…the shame pile…more unfinished work!

what if it was just a momentary thing.  not meant to be a love affair of any note or a long term relationship.  can you accept that?  could you even shred it?

For me, these false starts are a way of moving the energy.  As a writer, especially one who writes almost daily, I am open and available to ideas that zoom in…and then often they zoom out without coming to fruition and completion.  Not every idea has to be developed.

One question to ask of yourself is…”Do I always need a product?”

Sometimes, writing is just practice to facilitate your process.  You jot down the bright ideas, but you’re already working on something that is going somewhere. When you get to a stuck place in your life’s work writing, you can get easily distracted by yet another brilliant idea.   You then get waylaid from your story that has to be told, the one that you deeply desire to complete in this lifetime.  These engaging nova star ideas that race across your mind are a way to keep the channels open while you wait for what’s next in your great work.  You follow the star–and then, it plummets.  Nothing.  Nowhere to go with it.  Oh yes, where were you with the project at hand?  Get back to it.

These fleeting ideas show me that I’m in the flow, receptive and available.  I wrote it down, followed its lead and then realized that it is going to land in the bottom drawer of my file cabinet.  Perhaps I’m going to pick it up again one day and follow it further.  Or, I’m going to shred it immediately after I write it although the temptation to keep it is there as what I’ve written so far is, to my thinking, splendid.  These little writing flings…sigh.

 

 

Getting Comfortable within the Creative Process

bird.cafe1 I did not invent this; I found my way to it intuitively. And at the time, I named it process-oriented writing before I heard it had already been named. Ira Progoff, Ph.D., is one of the hallmark leaders in the development of process-oriented writing. And there have been many others who have taken this idea and run far and wide with it. This is part of my spiel on it–the one I wrote on my brochure when I was giving creative writing workshops.

“In a fast-paced, product-oriented society, process is equated with laboring. We want the prize and we want it now! We continually discover that once we achieve a particular goal, dissatisfaction sets in and we fixate on the next goal and the next. Understanding this, leads one to appreciate–PROCESS–which is the never-ending journey.  To be a writer of depth, it helps to engage your own process.”

We live in a society that is bent towards PRODUCT at all costs.  We want something complete.  Something SELLABLE.  Something desirable (to ourselves, our audience or our clients).  We think that we want these things above all else.

The creative spirit sees this goal-orientation differently than the popular norm. The creative spirit wants to re-create you as it potentially creates a product! In other words, the finished product is sort of a by-product of your own creative process.  While the creative spirit wants a commitment from you–that you are going to show up to the page, the canvas, the draft table, workbench or sewing machine, it also wants to break free from the requirements of a system that doesn’t truly elevate the intention of the creative spirit–that is, fostering your own growth.

Contemplate the flux and flow of your own creative process over the course of your life. When you were in process with a piece, were you excited?  Did you feel anticipation, anxiety even? Did you get stymied, stuck and have pitfalls that ultimately lead to breakthroughs?

Writing Prompt:
Choose a work in process which you’ve tucked away for sometime or a piece that you are presently working on.  Get quiet and present; reread what you’ve already written, at least some of it, and then enter into the energy of this piece. Continue from where you left off, following your flow with this piece. Write for at least thirty minutes.

Afterwards, notice what happens inside of you when you re-engage with and follow the flow of a piece?  Were there obstacles?  Was there ease?

Today, appreciate where you are at in your creative journey.