So here’s the deal: I am deciding which direction I want to go as an artist-which I don’t feel I am at all.
I am a hack. A pretender. An utter fraud.
And that voice in my head needs to shut up.
Because I am an artist.
I have ideas and plans for work. I have passion and desire to create. I have supplies and materials with which to experiment. I want to make my living with my art, although that is not my primary motivation. My motivation is to offer my own artistic voice to the conversation.
Why am I discussing this today?
Because there are skills I lack in areas I want to excel. Because I began comparing my self and my work with other artists and I found my own lacking in every way. Because I broke a tooth and am in quite a bit of pain right now, which makes me prone to negative self talk.
Side note: for those of you living with chronic pain-I understand. I really, really do. One of the best ways I have found to combat the daily effects of debilitating pain is to be creative. When I am creating something, my focus is not on what my body is telling me but what my spirit is releasing. It is truly a spiritual experience for me.
There are ways I cope with chronic pain-without the use of narcotics. I find them useless for even touching the pain I have experienced for nearly 35 years. I have never actually had a pain medication get rid of my pain. It just makes me stoned so I don’t care as much about it. And why do I want to further destroy my liver and kidneys taking medications which do not work? I don’t, so I don’t.
Back to coping with chronic pain. Here are some things you won’t want to hear.
Using your body, in spite of the pain, will give you both a sense of accomplishment and will ease the pain wracking your body.
No one else can do it for you. The only way to improve your quality of life is to make the changes necessary to do that. The ball is in your court and only you have the power to make your life better. Others cannot want it for you more than you want it for yourself.
Yes, there are days when the pain is excruciating and you want to curl up and die from it. I have often been amazed that my body can continue to survive with the amount of pain I live with, but, apparently you don’t die from pain. And my pain tolerance is off the charts, which comes from the constant endurance of it. Your mind will eventually shut it off. It simply won’t recognize the level of pain you are experiencing and you can go on.
This mental game can be exhausting and there are times when a new pain will occur, and it tumbles your blocks. Levels your carefully constructed brain pain management. Tips the scale.
Like a broken tooth, which may or may not be horribly painful in and of itself. But that extra pain upsets your apple cart and you are then hit with ALL the pain you’ve been holding off with your brain game.
Which is today for me.
Which brings me to my self-abusing self talk.
When I am vulnerable because of the pain, I become my own worst enemy. I will do just about anything to take myself out of the world of pain-even if that may be self destructive. For example: comparing myself and my work to other artistic people. Very easy to do when you have the internet and are in so much pain you cannot escape it. You can’t sleep, can’t find something to pull you from the anguish you are enduring, and you just end up wandering around the internet hoping for distraction.
And you will find it.
That is not necessarily a good thing. Because in my quest for distraction, I don’t see and appreciate the beauty of another artists work. I only see where my own does not reach that level and then begin the destructive self-talk I mentioned earlier.
Every artistic person has their own voice. Their own way of expressing their creativity. Their own unique style and perspective. (Which brings me to another complaint about myself-actual perspective in a painting. Perspective twists my brain into mushy spaghetti noodles.)
But I digress.
Another frustration when dealing with pain. Inability to focus and concentrate.
Creative expression is not dependent upon finances either. There are artists out there in the real world who can create magnificence from the burned end of a stick and a found piece of newspaper.
Some of the most amazing artwork I’ve ever seen is what rolls by me on a railroad track on the sides of the train cars. Graffiti is amazingly detailed and wonderfully unique. Since I live in a tiny farming community, we don’t have graffiti around here. I am awed by the talent these spray paint artists have. Some of the work is absolutely breathtaking.
They have found their own artistic voice. Their medium and their style. Brilliant.
I am currently creating several paintings a day. Three or four 16 x 20 canvasses. This is both a way to distract myself and a way to hone skills I need to accomplish my goals. Practice makes perfect, so I practice, practice, practice.
But I will never be great. I will always be a person with a smidge of natural ability and a Dutch work ethic.
I hope it’s enough.