Last night I gave a demo at a local shop for creatives. It was a mixed media demonstration that I have given dozens of times before.
I will be completely transparent here…It’s been a rough few weeks. There have been deaths, sickness, and heartache, and well, it’s January dipping into February in Rochester, New York. So, everything is GREY!
Interestingly enough when I was setting up, there were a couple of other artists in the room. We were talking about how important making art was for us and how vulnerable it is to do a demonstration or create in public. We talked about how that can lead to imposter syndrome and well- I then confessed that I had been struggling. I wondered if I had anything to offer the world. Was I making a difference? My fellow artists were very supportive and sort of laughed at the notion. But sometimes it is hard to see value or accomplishments when life is such a challenge.
I decided (what was I thinking?!) it would be a great idea to start with a blank canvas. I generally do not do this. It is easier to show progress if you have the basics at least started. However, I paint rather intuitively so, I felt that my spirit would take over and it would go fine.
Welp. Paint and medium take a bit to dry. So a twenty-minute or even an hour demonstration was not going to be all that impressive. I got in my head. (surprise?) It was difficult to show real results with slow-drying media. Add that to the fact that I was carrying a lot of sadness, and well, to say I was unhappy with the results is probably an understatement.
I am old enough to know that everything has something to teach me. I can still hear my mom ask me what I was grateful for every time I complained about nearly anything. So this is what I learned…
First, I am not alone in doubting myself. Perhaps the real lesson here is to just be. Art has a way of healing. For me, it isn’t a performance it is a path, a process. That is exactly what I was there to share.
Secondly, my husband often suggests that I am “too hard on myself”. Maybe. More to the point. I think when I spin in the negative cycle I get in my own way. Art is healing and joy for me. It is part of my spiritual practice. It is a life-giving activity for me. When I get in my own way or lead with expectations that muddies the water and the pressure is too great. Perhaps if I just took a deep breath and worked through the process I was there to share, I would have been happier with the results.
Lastly, I am grateful. Last night wasn’t perfect, but it did teach me a lesson. It taught me about myself and about others. It made me realize that I am not alone in my self-doubt, I am just working on the journey like everyone else is. That said, I showed up, I shared the process, and well… I started a painting.
Be gentle with yourself… we are all in this together.
Sending so much love,