Sunday, August 31, 2014

Thank you Ira Glass!

A nearly constant narrative in my head nags and pokes at me, telling me my work is not where it should be. I finish a painting and think: Wow. Really? That is not what I visualized at all. Sometimes I can field the negativity with a hearty Yeah, I know, but it's a PROCESS. Other times, I find myself pretty darn demoralized. I look at my paintings and worry and fret. I started my study of painting late - like really late - in life, so it's a little daunting to think I will have to maintain my patience and persistence for an indeterminable amount of time before I get to where I want to be. Will I even have my teeth by the time I feel my work is something I can and should be proud of?
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Some months back I was in a particularly bad funk. I tend to overwork paintings to get them "right" and in the process squeeze a lot of the lifeblood out of them, resulting in highly disappointing paintings. Which translates into a waste of time, along with costly paint and canvas. Right around June I had gotten into a really bad cycle. Painting after painting was just: ugh. I kept thinking, I could spend my time more productively doing basically anything, ANYTHING else. Even staring out the window would be better since I wouldn't be wasting money on costly art supplies.

One day my demoralization hit a fevered pitch. I was on facebook torturing myself by looking at posts from fellow artists whose level of skill was truly worth the time and effort.  Now there's quality, I mumbled as I scrolled through image after brilliant image.  Right then a message in my inbox from my sister popped up. In my catatonic state I was almost too weary to clink the link she had sent me. But thank God I did, because the web posting she sent was so pitch perfect to my current state of mind, it could be defined only in terms of divine intervention.

The link led to some generous and solid advice for the struggling artist of all genres given by Ira Glass, host of NPR's This American Life. (As an aside, This American Life is one of my very top favorite shows to listen to while working.)  The piece discussed the moment in time when you're feeling just not good enough, and how crucial it is to keep going anyway.  Glass asserts that it's precisely at that moment you feel you're doomed that you need to increase your output.  As I listened, I was buoyed and heartened - well for me, anyway. I went from feeling like a fool and a failure to: maybe I shouldn't quit after all! The take away for me was you have to produce as much as you can just when you feel as if it's all for naught.

I highly encourage you to take a moment and listen to what Glass has to say. Even if you're on a good roll.


If You’re Not Good Enough, Just Do This One Thing Over and Over and Over… and Over Again. 

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Thank you, Ira! You truly made a difference in my life!