Losing my centre


It’s funny, I can always tell when I’m off centre with myself. I spend loads more time worrying about what people think of me and my health starts to nose dive because I stretch myself too thin. I send my energies too far into the world and the next thing you know, I’m sleeping 10 hours a night because I’m so exhausted I can’t even play solitaire with any degree of intelligence.

I seem to have abandoned all of my usual routines. I’m not writing in my journal every morning. The Shiva Nata has gone out the window – it’s been a month since the last time I practiced. I’m staying up later than I should. I’m spending a lot of time in front of this damned laptop but doing what exactly, I’m not entirely sure. Mostly staring into space and playing the “but I’m not as good as artist x, y or z” game. (Ain’t that a fun game.)

Anyways, I’m feeling off kilter, but mostly still feeling off kilter about my art.

I don’t know what direction I’m going in anymore. I’m trying to figure out where I fit in the “art world” and I’m not sure if I really fit anywhere. I don’t even know if fitting in somewhere is important.

My art is realistic, but I’m not, by any definition, a realist artist. I don’t do all of my work from life, I haven’t studied under master artists in ateliers in Europe, and I don’t paint according to a certain Old Master style. I kinda paint according to me. I’m influenced by a lot of older artist’s work, but then I’m also influenced by Frida Kahlo.

I love realist art though. It’s the realist art that I always end up drooling over. It’s what I’ve always loved. Ever since I discovered Velasquez, I’ve fallen madly, hopelessly in love with realism.

I don’t know if I want to paint like that though. Or if I do, I have to want to learn how to for me, and not to be accepted by a certain group.

There’s also the “working from life” dilemma. For me, working from photographs is often necessary. For years, it was because I was mostly housebound – getting someone to drive me to a location so that I could set up and paint for a few hours was kind of like asking me to breathe underwater. It just wasn’t happening.

Then I was wildly inspired by the English landscape. I don’t live there, but want to paint it. Obviously, photographs are necessary because when I was there 3 years ago, I didn’t have the opportunity or the set up, to paint from life. And now I just don’t have the money to go back.

And all of this is me trying to rationalize with the voice in my head that says I’m a failure as an artist for ever working from a photograph, or not directly from my imagination. (Side note: I’ve never copied a photograph. I use it as reference material to help me capture the vision in my head. It’s never the same as the photograph.)

Sigh. This artist thing gets more confusing the older I get. When I was 19, I just painted what I loved and didn’t worry about what school I fit into, and whether I painted the right way. Of course, that’s one of the 4 stages of competence – unconscious incompetence.

I’m now fully aware of how little I know, and, unsurprisingly, it’s frustrating.

What frustrates me most though is my neediness – my desire to belong, to fit in somewhere, to be accepted. I know I shouldn’t feel this way – I’m supposed to be a “rugged individualist” – but hey, I’m human. Sometimes we just wanna belong.

I think what I need to do is some soul searching. What’s important to me in my art, what I want to get from a lifetime in art, where I’d like to go etc. I may not get any definitive answers, but if I could figure out what I’m working towards right now, that’d be a good start.