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How Preparing For an Art Show Took Me For a Ride

I had an experience recently where I was preparing for a show and got put through the ringer in terms of the self-doubt and unworthiness rollercoaster.

Here's the thing about me: I’m shy.

I like to let my art speak for itself. In fact, I would prefer that my art stand solely on its own, without me as its representative. (Yep.)

[More on having to be the sales person/spokesperson for your art later. In short: it's not my favorite thing and I'm still trying to figure out what my relationship to it is. I want to have a healthy one.]

And, though I’ve come a longgggg way in my journey of showing up as myself, I still struggle with being seen. It’s scary for me.

Standing next to my art in person bring up stuff for me (and probably will for awhile as I unpack more layers around showing up). Stuff that inevitably wants to get worked out. And, like all my stuff that wants to get worked out, it tends to show up in the studio....rightttt as I'm trying to create and finish a bunch of paintings.

This past couple weeks in the studio, in order to compensate for all the fear around being seen, my ego took over a bit in the days leading up to that show; the very human part of myself that strives for survival and is rooted in all its fear. When I feel this kind of stress come up, I know it can almost always be traced back to an innate desire for validation and approval (i.e. the currency for survival in this day and age).

Let me tell you, this voice was loud and bossy. I was questioning every move I made. I tried to force things to look a certain way. I tried to paint perfect paintings (...a non-existent phenomenon).

I have a knack for tapping into what people like--which is great for commissions---but when it comes to my own creations, it's is a disaster. It's like the voices and opinions of hundreds of people close in on me. They all conflict with one another and I can’t take one step forward without taking two steps back.

Fun, right?

While frustrating, experiences like this are important for me to have.

Feeling strung out on a need for validation is often just the right amount of discomfort I need to get back to my center. Back to my intentions.

Back to the truth:

Yes, I can take the drivers seat and move some colors around. I know them well enough by now— I can play out a pattern of marks and colors and call it art.

But that’s not really why I show up in the studio. For me that's not really what creates the art that I feel passionate about.

I show up to make art to discover. To channel. To allow.

The truth:

We don't generate our creative ideas, impulses and inspiration-- we tap into them.

For me, that is where the real “art” is made. That’s the difference between a wall decoration and ART.

There is an energy behind alive art that I can’t contrive on my own. It’s a co-creation between me and…whatever other energy is out there. Collective Consciousness, God, Source, my Soul, creative energy. I often refer to it as Spirit, although for a long time I thought of it as "The Universe." It just felt safer.

In the most ideal light, this is how I see my role as an artist:

Combining my loves in this life (large bodies of water, clean air, tall trees, live music, diversity of culture, heart connections and all moving experiences of other people's creations) and my experiences + perspectives (allllllll the shadows and the light) with what my Soul and the Universe wants to communicate + move through me.

In other words, I add a bit of my own personal flare here and there, but it's really this divine energy that brings the main dish to the party.

After A LOT of letting go and re-centering and choosing bravery, these are my favorite pieces that ended up coming about (they're currently available in my shop). In a lot of ways they feel like they've pushed my boundaries and guided me into new territory. And in a lot of ways they feel familiar-- close to my heart.

"Let's Be Daring," on left and "Let's Celebrate," on right.

I think there titles are fitting for the journey I had while painting them, too.

(A word on titles: I always let them intuitively come either during the process or afterward when I'm sitting back and taking the piece in. I assign them even when they don't make total sense to me, knowing there must be a reason they want to be called the name they have given themself. It's often not until later when I reflect on the piece, the experience of it's creation and the title that I make the connection between the words and the art).

My takeaway for you today is this:

When you're feeling stressed in your process, when you're feeling stuck or frustrated-- take a step back. It's actually not your job to be the brilliant creator of your art. It's your job to allow the creations floating around in the ethers, waiting to be expressed, to come through in a way that is unique to your own way of translating.

When I'm able to sink into this perspective, all that stress seems to just float away. The pressure is taken off my own human shoulders. And the real magic can start to happen.

Happy Creating, Beautiful Soul.


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