Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Going Back to School

We recently went on a trip to visit family and friends back home for a week. I have been suffering through my art work lately. I don't know if it is the lows from coming out of the holiday season or if it is just that I am growing tired of my routine. Either way I have been feeling a little less that thrilled about working on my paintings and selling my wares and being social.

I wouldn't call this depression, because I still want to get up and do things. I know that if it really were depression it would be more debilitating, that is not what I am going though right now. But none the less I am still feeling like I am in this kind of slumpy mess, where getting up and working on my art has become a chore. Like eating oatmeal for breakfast for a year. You know you should eat, and because you are hungry you want to eat, but you have a hard time motivating yourself to eat because it is oatmeal again.

So like I said I was visiting family and I was hanging out with my closest friend, and we were talking about his weird place I have found myself and how it is that I can get out of it. She suggested taking a couple of community college courses to get back in the more social side of the art world.

I thought about it and for the next couple of weeks thought that that was exactly what I needed. I needed structure, and I needed to get in touch with the greater art community again. I looked at classes, and applied, and analyzed class costs. But for some reason I couldn't commit myself to actually signing up for classes.

Even though I had spent days convincing myself that taking classes again was a good idea something kept telling me that it wasn't. I didn't know why I was so hesitant to start classes again. I mean I have been taking classes for most of my life and I know how to tackle them. I know how to get good grades, I know how to work by a school schedule. There is really no reason for me to feel like I shouldn't be taking these classes.

Then I realized what it was. For me school is a cop out. I know how work that way. I know how to finish assignments and get grades, I know how to work with people in that environment. It is like knowing the system so well that I can without thinking easily jump through all of the hoops to finish a class, but then what? What would I have gained?

I would still be having trouble dealing with my self. I would still have confidence issues. I would have just paid the school for a few weeks of jumping through hoops for grades. It's not like any of that was my work. I did it, but these are assignments the work I would have completed wouldn't been marketable. It wouldn't be gaining anything. I would have come out with the same issues I came into it with.

I have not really learned how to function outside of the school environment. I excel at finishing assignments and doing what other people tell me to do, but that doesn't make you a successful person outside of the school zone. I need to learn how to manage myself. I need to learn how to push myself to be better without having the teachers tell me what to do.

So in the last couple of weeks I have been making assignments for myself. I figure there are two advantages to this school I have created for myself. I get to exercise the discipline I would have had in class that I thrive with, and I know what my weaknesses are. I can adjust my "curriculum" to what I need it to be. I can give myself assignments designed around what I feel needs improvement. As for the social aspect that I have been missing out on I don't need a classroom to get that. The real art scene doesn't happen in the classroom anyway. I have made it one of my assignments to get out to galleries and art functions and circulate with people who are working artists and not just students.

I guess what all of this leads to is yet again I am realizing many of the flaws of our schooling system. I have learned again that I was never completely prepared by school to know how to function outside of its doors. There are life experiences that you have to gain through experience rather than through school. If we are ever going to learn how to function outside of school we are going to eventually have to leave it, and learn about ourself enough to flourish on our own. We cannot  have the training wheels on forever.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The ADD Clinic

I used to live in a area where there was an ADD clinic we used to drive passed on occasion. The first time I ever noticed it was when I was in the middle of a conversation, instantly mid sentence I knew that I just had to point out this wonderful moment. Stopping the conversation with a sudden exclamation of "ADD Clinic?" made for a nice moment of beautiful comedic effect. We spent the next few minutes busting up over just how perfect the situation had been.

The thing is though that I do suffer from a serious case of self diagnosed ADD. I have a hard time spending serious amounts of time working on anything. If cleaning takes more that ten minutes I get bored. If a painting takes more than I week it usually gets tossed aside. It is not really a commitment issue, I love getting started on a project and I envision myself doing all of the work and see what needs to be done, but most of the time I get half way there and get distracted, and finishing the piece becomes a chore. I don't really want to keep working on it I want to move onto the other new shiny idea, because it is way more interesting that what I am currently working on. This doesn't mean that I want to completely get rid of this disorder. I love it, that is part of why I never really went to anyone to get help with it. Having this propensity to jump from idea to idea is part of my creative process, and to kill it would kill my creative half, but I cannot let it have too much power either.

This year I have been challenging myself to finish things. Well, not just to finish things. I already do that, but to finish them well, with the same amount of commitment and execution that I had dedicated to the beginning. I don't want to fizzle out. I want to be able to get done with a piece and have the result be a good as the original idea was.

I have been using different techniques of trying to get more out of my ideas. I have been slowing down paying attention to details. I have been working on my skills. I have been standing back for a day and getting perspective. I have been trying to distance myself from the work, so that maybe I can come back at it with more interest because I haven't had my head stuck in it for days straight.

Though I am more proud of the work that I have been doing since implementing this thinking to my art, it is like peeling my skin off. I am not going to lie, it is flat out torture to keep my mind on one piece for so long. I know that it is good for me to be pushing myself to put more work into something, but some days I look at the half finished piece and think, wouldn't it just be better if I moved on?

Reining in my natural desire to jump from project to project has been hard. I know that some people can spend years on a piece, it can consume them and take them for a journey. I have never found a piece of art that had made me feel that way. Sometimes I feel that I am doing things wrong because I don't have that kind of long lasting passion that others have. I know that my art could be so much better if I would be willing to put more effort into it. The thing is that, I don't need to be like other artists, I just need to be better than I am now.

I know that I am not other people and I do art differently than they do and that I am not making their art. I just need to be myself and make my art, but I also need to be better than just me. I need to push myself further so that I can grow while making something new,. Not letting my ADD run my life is part of that journey for me.

Friday, February 14, 2014

I have confidence

After last week were I spent my time admitting that I pretty much suck at selling my self and my work, I spent some time thinking about other reasons why I am having trouble selling it. I suffer at times from crippling self doubt. It is odd really. I usually start off a project with all of the confidence in the world. New projects make me feel like I can do anything. I work on it with vigor, thinking to myself that I have just come up with the most brilliant idea since cheese and the no one will be able to resist it. I generally have an over abundance of confidence when I start out on a new venture in life. Sadly though as time progresses on the project I tend to become filled with doubt, and become more and more self conscious of my work.

I begin to think to myself that maybe I was a little over enthusiastic when I started. Maybe I didn't think things through and the concept of my work is really only cool and interesting to myself. Maybe I didn't execute it very well and people won't like the finished product and that I was promising more than I had delivered. The more time I spend on a project the more of these doubts find their way into my mind.

So as I am sitting here coming close to a year of having my Etsy shop, where I am still producing the same types of paintings that I was a year ago, I am beginning to doubt wether all of this was really a good idea in the first place. Every day I have to shake off these insecurities and think to myself that the one year of work I have put in has seen very little of this world and cannot, as yet, be deemed a failure. I cannot rightfully call this a failure yet, because it hasn't been given a chance to flourish. I have read about other shops and know that it takes time for things to get moving, and I just have to give it a chance.

I cannot assume success or failure of anything that I do until I have given it the opportunity it deserves. I cannot spend time being down on myself when I still have so much more that I can do in order to help this work that I have started. I have to see this through to the end to determine if it was good work to begin with. I cannot let self doubt kill my work, and as hard as it may seem, I need to push through the hesitation and worry and put myself out there even if I have doubts.

Everyone has doubts, nothing in  life is 100% guaranteed. What I do know is that if I never work past this mental block and try harder to get my work noticed, then I will never know if it was a success at all.

Monday, February 3, 2014

I'm not a salesman

I have weaknesses. Everyone does, but that should not be an excuse for me. I completely suck at selling myself. I don't like bothering people with advertising. I don't want to be a pain, and I don't want people to think less of my work because I have plastered it all over the place. I hate feeling like I am annoying or an inconvenience. I also don't like being social purely for the reasons of selling items.

I enjoy the process of creation more than I do the process of selling. As it is right now I have two completed pieces and a third one that I will finish soon. None of these pieces are not up for sale yet and I have been a little lazy about doing so. I also haven't been following my rules about how to keep up my social media presence.

All of this sales and social stuff is draining, and I don't feel like I get what I am looking for out of it. But I also realize that because I am not consistent about it that I will not get the results I want. I just keep dragging my feet. I make up excuses, and instead I waist my time doing things that are neither creative or actively selling my wares.

It is difficult trying to work on something that you are weak at. It is like trying out a new piece of gym equipment that works new muscles. Your body doesn't want to do the work because it hurts, and you aren't strong enough to do very well at it. But you find that the more you practice it the better you will get. The thing is that even though I am pretty good about consistency when it comes to working out, I am not very good being consistent on working on my social networking.

Some days, I wish I could find an easy way out. I imagine hiring someone to do all of the social stuff for me, so that all I have to do is be the creative hermit that I love to be. I imagine how much more fun for me that would be. The issue with that dream is, that unless I do the work to become successful enough to hire someone, I will never obtain that dream. I have to muddle through the hard stuff in order to move forward.

I have to remind myself all of the time, that I have to struggle doing the things that I hate, or are not good at, before I can see any results in my life. I may hate to eat my vegetables but there is really no other way that I am going to get healthy if I don't. The results I want don't come fore free, I have to do what needs to be done in order to get those results.

I hate to face the facts some days, like today, but I have to work in order to be successful, everyone does. There are always parts of life that are not going to be comfortable, but you just have to get through them or you are never going to get what you wanted out of life in the first place. Discomfort is what pushes us to be more than what we currently are.