Suspending Disbelief

posted in: Artistic Process, Lifestyle 0

I went back to the studio today for the first time in a long time. About a year ago, I was confronted with the idea of either growing the business that I’d been claiming to be running to earn a living or continuing to pursue my creative path as an artist. The reality was, there just wasn’t room for both and I was unhappy with all of it. I would go to studio and just stare at the piles of unfinished work, uninspired ideas scribbled down on paper, photos laying around of things that I thought would “just snap me out of it”,  and I’d go home feeling like a failure because I hadn’t “made anything”. I hadn’t “been creative”. I hadn’t been an artist.

In the same breath, I would lament about how our web development company needed to grow and how there was so much to do to turn it into a “real business” and how I didn’t have enough time….and on and on and on. Until one day, I sat down and I gave myself permission to put my artist-self on hold for a little bit. To give myself fully to the act of running a company and putting myself to the test.

Well, today, I went back to studio with the intent of cracking open my artistic creativity and seeing what happened. And it was pretty awesome–it turns out that if you suspend disbelief for a while, something magical can be accomplished.

I got messy, I mixed my favorite colors, I played the “what if” game with my intuition (What if I just trusted my creative decision making skills? What if I just go for it? What if I put the mark there and then paint over it? What if I collage this onto that?). I did that thing I do with the paper towels and the paint. I listened to music and paced around my studio and swept the floor. I enjoyed a cup of coffee and stared at my work for a while. I worked on three pieces all at the same time. I told myself that eventually, the work would get interesting. I told myself that it’s possible for me to make work that can be interesting. I stopped giving a shit if it was good or commercial or right or whatever it is.

I’m a reasonable optimist and I’m not going to say that my struggle balancing my creativity with my business-owner life is over. Because it’s not. Stuff like that doesn’t end, it just changes tone. But I do think I made a small breakthrough tonight. I made some work. I like what I accomplished and I feel like I got back in touch with a part of myself that I haven’t interacted with in a while. I came home covered in paint and feeling pretty about myself.

I have a modest goal to start reincorporating my studio life back into my business-owner life by dedicating two days a month to my studio practice after the New Year. I know it’s not a lot of time but I also know that it’s going to be a struggle and that failing a lofty goal does me a lot of mental harm. I’m looking forward to challenge, however, and I hope I can keep this afternoon in mind as I begin the reintegration process.