An Artist's Mental Battle pt. 1

I want to share the hidden aspects of an artist's process. Our mental struggles. This isn't about depression or creativity solely. But this is a focus on how artists feel the idea moved through them.

We usually get the sense that what we are making no longer fuels us. Maybe we answered the questions that originally brought us to the idea. Maybe it was the wrong idea. But finding what feels right feels internally difficult. I have found from trying different styles, that is is hard getting your mind to drop the conventions of a particular style. It usually takes time. It's similar to changing religious beliefs while trying to secretly cling on to the past concepts. You like what you did before. That's why you did it. You don't want to let go of what still feels like part of your expression. But you are now longing for progression and a style more engaging than what you are currently creating.

For artists who aren't as prolific as me, more rides on this change. If you only make 5 paintings a year, you really don't want to shift ideas often. Even at 20 paintings a year, if you aren't constantly exposing people to your work, it will be hard to leave an impact over time. In our current culture, you would be deemed an amateur artist by not being able to stay focused on a concept. In terms of being able to market your work to galleries, a distinct and singular style will make you more marketable. But as an artist developing a level of expression long term, that isn't and shouldn't be your primary goal. Expressing your self regards of the subject matter is always number one.

Allowing yourself to express what has been slowly building in your mind is what we, as artists, live for. The joy of letting free far exceeds the joy of making a "beautiful" painting. There was a long period of toil to mentally compose the image you now see. It takes a lot of exposure to mentally guide your mind to create images it hasn't ever seen. Even if it is just blending or distorting already existing images/concepts.

This process has ups and downs that are not common for most people. When we don't know what we are supposed to create next, we begin to lose our connection to the world around us. We lose our sense of purpose and direction. Yes, we still maintain our beliefs and philosophies, but lose our grounding in how we fit into the world. We subconsciously pride ourselves for our "fly on the wall" mentality. Listening and learning, waiting for the right moment to make our voice heard. Unfortunately, some artists can not cope with their sense of separation and fall into deeper depressions than others. I myself feel depressive states almost yearly. But it is usually fitted within a larger process I will dive into more in the next post. I hope that opens up some understanding to what looks like depression and procrastination to most who haven't felt these sensations.