Hard work or dumb effing luck? For me it has been a bit of both. My work has evolved and in some cases come to a complete grinding halt for years at a time. Not many people want to talk about what sends them into a creative paralysis. At my age I think it is good to share these moments for the benefit of others in the same position or as a preventive measure. Growing up I excelled in art, I started drawing and making things early on and was told so frequently by friends and family. To me making art was always a linear race of excellence. You do well in one aspect of it and move on to something new. By the time I reached my late 20s and early 30s I had shown pieces in photography and mixed media at some pretty decent places in Chicago. I was soo proud of this, but retained my usual sense of modest shyness about the work. Little did I know that later on my own creativity would come to a stand still. It all began to unravel the night of the opening of a group exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center which coincided with the an opening at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. It was such a beautiful night. My mother came to Chicago for the event as well as my aunt Sharon. All the artists were in attendence as well. There was a sort of shared excitement. We knew how special this evening would be. In my haste I forgot my camera, which is highly unusual for me. My own stomache was doing flips in anticipation. I truly believed that this was the pinnacle of my career as an artist. How the hell was I going to be able to top this. Slowly and unaware of the changes in me, I lost complete direction and concentration. I set the bar so high for myself that it became impossible to continue. What could or would I do next? People who had purchased my work wanted me to contact them. For some reason I refused to call them. That reason was fear, illogical and constricting fear. These people liked my work enough to buy it and here I was being what appeared to be an ass and not calling them to answer their questions. Still have their numbers and messeges in a notebook and thought about calling them over the years, but it has been well over a decade. I have let that go. I went so far back then as to quit my studio job, pack up my entire life, leave the creative world behind, and hide out in Kentucky for the next couple of years by going back to school, having several different jobs, going clubbing, and moving to Nashville for a bit. None of this made me happy. Misery is a sneaky beast, that got a hold of me and hung on for almost a decade. I seriously figured my artistic life was over for good. Well one should never hold onto absolutes as I found out. Little by little I started to get back into creative work. I started simply and have been steadily making my way back to the artist that I used to be, only more well grounded and a bit more mature. No longer do I see my work as linear, it is constantly evolving. I have repeatedly revisited concepts that I have worked on earlier. The work has become more circular. I don't need to top myself anymore, I just need to keep making art in whatever medium I choose. Nowdays if someone inquires about my work, I call them back and will freely discuss it. I am getting to that lovely point of middle age where I don't care what others think of me or my work, but can now take compliments and criticism objectively. Funny, I am also much more full of opinions on my work and the work of others to.
Have you ever experianced an emotional, creative paralysis? Leave me a comment about it. I love hearing from other people about their experiances in making art.
|Taken at Kenlake Resort Summer 2013|