Artist Statement

Balancing Art, Work and Life!

Get Over It!…or…No More Self Doubt

July21
Author: Agora Gallery

You are an artist.

You are in a slump.

You have lost confidence.

Nothing looks like you want it to look.

Your inner juices have dried up.

As an artist, a professor of Integrated Arts at York University in Canada, a teacher of Expressive Arts, and as a consultant who works with other artists who feel like they've lost their edge, I have years of experience in facing the demons that are sometimes referred to as "artist blocks". The following is tried-and-true advice for those artists who are questioning their own abilities and internal strengths.

I feel like I've lost my edge.

For this statement to have any real meaning it suggests that you know what it was like when you had your edge, and, this is what you're trying to recover. Don't go there. Going back is impossible except in movies, novels, or Freudian psychoanalysis. Today you are not the artist that you were yesterday let alone days/weeks/months ago. You grew.

The sheer passion of an artist is the dynamic force behind his/her professional expertise. Pay attention to your gut and not your head. It is not about your art… it is about you. Your job is not to re cover but to un cover the power of the moment right now. Today.

How? This is as individual as you are however I'm going to give a few examples of what has worked for others who have experienced the same negativity as you.

My ideas depend upon your appreciating how I perceive learning… that both the cognitive and affective domains drive each of us.

When talking about the cognitive domain I like to simply describe this as the thinking component of learning… of "being in your head". When we're discussing the affective domain I describe this as the emotiona/feeling part of learning…when the whole self is responding to an idea/thought/image/dream/inspiration.

When we are in "the slump" we're in our heads. So one of the obvious solutions is to get out of our heads to get out of our slump. Activate your affective domain.

I know of one person who, I kid you not, took up scuba diving (She did it in a swimming pool!) in order to move herself into a totally new space in her body and mind. The results in her art were staggering.

Another artist decided, as he began to sculpt, to begin the process by putting on a Bob Seger CD and turn it up as loud as he could while belting out "Old Time Rock & Roll". This man was a classically trained musician as well as a sculptor and when he sang and moved to rock 'n roll he placed himself in unfamiliar territory. He purposefully took himself out of his head and his sculptures took on new dimensionality.

When involving the whole self in something novel, it can be as simple as going for a walk to somewhere you've never been, putting yourself outside the four walls of a studio and into 'nature', yelling at the moon, dancing the salsa, singing your guts out while driving in traffic, gently touching the petals of flowers, walking a dog from the dog pound… anything that you (because after all, if you are an artist, you have the predisposition to be creative!) dream up to get yourself into the affective and out of the cognitive domain.

When consulting with artists who feel trapped I often encourage them to leave their own environment/studio and view their newest work (or an image of their work, if it's too large to transport) in some place different. It could be that those familiar surroundings were a part of the reason for the 'block'. And, it's good for artists to see their work out of the context of the studio. This engenders a totally different perspective.

While out of the studio (or in it if they cannot leave the studio) I ask artists to concentrate only upon current works of art…especially those that are troubling.

They examine three of the most recent pieces and place them in order from the piece with which they are most happy to the least. (We are building on what is positive instead of dwelling upon what is negative about the work.)

The artist quickly goes to each piece and immediately identifies the one small spot/ the kernel that is most pleasing. It's important to do this rapidly because we are after a gut-response/spontaneous reaction rather than a prolonged turgid critique.

After being in a responsive, non-thinking mode, the artist now goes into the contemplative mode. Affective to cognitive. He/she spends time delving into what it was about each of these three small pieces of excellence that brought about a personal visceral response. This often leads to incredible insight and a real need to get back to work and the block has disappeared.

Learn from this positivity and build upon it.

Discover the essence of your work that most pleases you. You can remove your own seeds of self-doubt.

You have a choice. Stay in your head or involve your whole self in your art.

As my best friend says to me when I become pessimistic about my work, "GET OVER IT!" So I do.

About the Author:

About the author: Lynda Pogue is a Canadian artist, writer, professor and consultant currently represented by the Agora Art Gallery , located in Chelsea the main art galleries district of New York. Her articles have been published in ARTisSpectrum Art Magazine , specialized in fine contemporary art. Her work may be viewed on the online art gallery

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