For a moment I was baffled when Rebecca, one of my followers on Instagram, asked me this question. Do I ever struggle? Of course I do! Like all of us – artists, teachers, sales agents, office employees, construction workers, mothers, doctors, etc. Who does not ever struggle?
So why did she ask me this? Does painting look all that easy to me? I guess it does to others. But personally, I often feel like I am the one person on earth who has had a long-term subscription to struggle for all of her life.
Art As A Personal Coach
This little question by Rebecca reminded me of how much I actually do struggle with myself and also with what I do or how I do it. But it has also helped me to remember how much I have already achieved in overcoming this anxiety. In fact, making art can teach you about life and yourself just as much as therapy can do and it can be your mentor.
In the studio, you are always you. I have good days and bad days at the studio. Painting can make me extremely happy but it can also frustrate me if things don’t go well. It’s not that different from other things I do. I do not possess any super powers that eliminate all obstacles when I am in the studio. When I encounter obstacles during the painting process, these are some of the choices I can debate:
- Do I stop the painting and start another one?
- Do I pick it up again on another day?
- Do I feel ready to face the challenge?
- Do I acknowledge it won’t be perfect but I can grow from trying?
- Do I strive for perfection and try as long as I reach my goal?
You Cannot Run Away From Your Passion
Making art is a very emotional activity. For me art has helped me to understand myself better by going through the emotional process first and then talking about it. So art has also guided me to understand more about my struggling in life. Art is the part in my life that I will never ever run away from – and this makes the difference! I feel I have no other choice than to face, accept, and overcome my struggles if I want to be a successful artist. Art is the best personal trainer I have ever had. When I see a photo that I would like to paint, then I usually want this really, really bad. I don’t accept a no from myself. Obstacles turn into challenges. Art is about healing. To achieve my goals I need passion, patience and practice. And this again is good practice for life in general.
Victory and Self-Confidence
Now have a look at that lady’s face again. Don’t you think, too, she looks very self-confident and a bit mischievous as well? Just like she’s saying, “Look, this is me and here I am!” When I saw the photography on which my painting is based, I could feel her inner strength and I absoulutely wanted to paint her.
I do not call a portrait finished unless the result evokes the same feelings that I sensed in the very beginning. The painting proccess is a journey, in this case on the road to self-confidence. Each journey may last a couple of weeks or seven years (which is the longest a painting has ever taken me). A journey may be straight forward or interrupted by struggles. Whatever it is I encounter, I learn from it and I grow. And every finished painting is a victory over my struggles!
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