Resistance Has Allies
The Pieta by Michelangelo
There are many ways an artist can get derailed from his or her work. We have seen that an artist's wellbeing depends on whether the artist does her work on a regular basis. If we want to take our art to a higher level we have to be professionals. This means getting to work everyday. This work consists of many things from marketing to paperwork and of course creating. The latter is the most difficult for most artists. Impossible! Every artist loves to create so why would this be difficult to do?
Yes we do love to create art. A true artist will hanker for the creative process, but just when we are about to start something comes up. Steven Pressfield in his book The War of Art calls this resistance. The force that attacks artists everyday like a great white shark with only one thing on its mind: to keep us from our work. It takes commitment, discipline and sometimes we have to trick ourselves to get the work started. Even as I type this article I confess that it took me three hours of struggle with resistance to get to the point where I could start typing. What did I do for three hours? Many inane tasks that I can barely recall until I got to the point of swearing at myself until I started work at the keyboard.
If resistance is not enough there are other insidious traps waiting for artists.
Do we seek praise? Never directly we may reply, but one way or another we may try to weedle praise out of the people who will not want to hurt our feelings. As we build up our sense of self (ego) we unfortunately leave our backs wide open for the train coming from behind. No I will not go so far as to say that this is delusional behavior. It is simply ... well, yes it is delusional. What we artists need is balanced criticism and we must seek out the truth. Improve where needed and forge ahead. Good honest assessment of our work is good for us.
Do we find fault with other artist's work? The competition. If you do this then there is going to be much turmoil ahead. No good comes of this form of behaviour. The real danger is that it becomes a habit and an attention seeking form of behaviour. It is not the artist's place to try and drag down another artist whether directly or indirectly. There are professional art criitics and the good ones have their job to do. The others need to find another calling. As far as artists are concerned I find no benefit in pointing fingers and decrying someone's art. Far more is gained from seeking the positive and artists will feel at peace doing this.
Always focus on the moment and create the best work you can. It does not matter if the painting turns out ordinary in your opinion. Accept that there will always be a gap between what your creative soul envisaged and what your hands produced. Did Mozart compose his music exactly as he imagined it? Did Michelangelo produce the perfect sculpture exactly as he imagined it? We cannot believe that these works of genius always fell short of the artist's expectations. The purpose of art for artists is to live the moment of creation. It is the process not the end result that matters.
As hard as that may be to accept it is our only source of peace.
Malcolm Dewey: Artist. Country: South Africa