At first, when all of these restrictions started, I enjoyed seeing my feeds explode with art post after art post. It was a refreshing change from sport and politics and the general doom and gloom the media likes to drown us in. Finally, I thought, the world would have no choice but to see the importance of the creative arts. Like so many others I shared with gusto in the hope it would become fact.
New learning opportunities were popping up everywhere too supported by encouraging memes telling me if I didn't learn something new through this lockdown then I lacked motivation. Well, that is not me I thought, I've always been driven! Artists were posting both paid and free courses, galleries were opening up virtual tours and I just knew I had to make the most of these extraordinary times and take advantage of all that was on offer! I was going to come out of this thing as one of the clever ones who seized the moment!
I started with a free 13 hour portraiture course which was truly incredible (if you're into that sort of thing) and I learned more that I could have hoped for. I did have this niggling thought that I was in the middle of another painting but I convinced myself it could wait. Before I knew it I had a whole folder full of art related links and projects that I couldn't wait to sink my teeth into. I was still waiting for a delivery of art supplies anyway so I figured I had the time and these really were extraordinary times.
Or were they?
As a practicing artist, my life has not really changed that much. I still spend most of my time in my studio, I am still taking regular commissions and I am still producing new art on a regular basis, hence I am still a practicing artist and I am still very busy. Add to that, in normal circumstances, I am tending to my family, going to my sons football, supporting my daughters studies, engaging with my husband and doing other non art related forms of entertainment. Variety is good and it's healthy and it keeps me motivated. Unfortunately it is missing at the moment. Sport is suspended, our businesses are temporarily closed and the truth is there is only so much art related stuff I can do before I long for contrast.
My excitement became overwhelm when I started trying to convince myself that I 'should' be taking advantage of these things but in truth I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I started questioning my own practices and ways of doing things because I was suddenly being bombarded with online classes and videos and artists everywhere advertising themselves and their products and all of the amazing things they are doing and, of course, how successful they all are. Then came the art business emails -, learn how to sell more art! 10 ways to know your market! Are you making these 7 mistakes? Are you really an artist?
I found my enthusiasm turning into something else and at some point I fell into the worst of artist's traps.....comparing myself to others. Am I doing enough? Am I relevant? Should I be doing things differently? OMG there are so many artists out there! How will I be noticed?
The art world has taken a huge hit during this crisis and artists everywhere are doing whatever they can to survive and get by. Art promotion is becoming relentless with nothing else to dilute it so it is not surprising that with that comes a sense of urgency and overwhelm followed closely by self doubt.
I had to stop reading social media for a spell and have since reminded myself of where I am at and what I have personally achieved. I have concluded that while I like to learn new things, I will only do it as needed during timeframes that work for me in and around the commitments I already have.
If you are in a position to take advantage of what's on offer then by all means go for it. There is much on offer.
If, however, you are feeling overwhelmed, as I was, then please gently remind yourself that comparison and self doubt kill creativity. If you learn something new during this time great. If you don't also great! We are all on our own path. Just do what you can when you can with what you have! Most importantly, keep creating in your own way.
Yours in art, Cherie xxx