Dear Young Artists Who Are Anxious Of Making Art

There's something I really want to get off my chest.

For the past few weeks, I have not been feeling the most confident with my ability to paint - i.e. to paint well and to paint in an innovative way.

There is this video I watched recently. It's like a confession from a person who is afraid to paint and then the artist who created the video (the one who's painting) responded to their fear:
I relate to this. I have recently talked about this anxiety on my Instagram. I feel like I am at a stage where I need to reach the 'next'. Like a door in an endless corridor that leads me from one series of work to another. Almost like a journey I must take in order to become the artist that I envision myself to be.

When I admit to these feelings, sometimes people would respond saying 'you just need to be more confident.', 'you worry and doubt yourself too much'. These might be valid exterior observations, however, if you are also an artist you'll probably know that it goes way deeper than that (also, since when can someone just chose to be more confident or not have doubts? There is a difference between build a confident-looking facade and feeling truly confident, but that's a whole other topic).

I think being good at making Art is synonymous to good at making sense of things that doesn't make sense.

It's certainly not as simply as executing a job well done. Like what capitalistic ideals thrive on and expects of any kind of craft and production. By this I mean the modern way of operating and producing goods. In the framework of Capitalism, things must be quantified, rationalised and carefully calculated. It involves flow charts and research to make sure that the final product made is going to be profitable and successful in a timely manner, based on logic and consumer behaviours.

Art doesn't really work like that.

Especially when we're talking about true or fine art (which is a huge topic that I might dive into in my future posts), Art that will stand the test of time and remains relevant for the many years to come.

It is a blessing and a curse to live in the age of information and instant gentrification. We see thousands and thousands of images of art all the time. When we like them on social media, it shows us even more amazing art that we are guaranteed to like. This is great, brilliant even, as it inspires us to be better and expand our horizons without having to leave our houses. Though, since our standards are constantly being raised, we see our work and we go, "ugh, its no Rembrandt".

This is probably obvious to most but just want to make sure we are on the same page on this - I believe our judgement on what good art is, is the standard of which we judge our works against.

I’m never satisfied with my work because I have seen too much good art to know what my work lacks and what it CAN potentially achieve. To best describe this, I would say it is some sort of aura that i see in a piece of work work. I just really want a taste of that when experiencing my own work.
Here's something I recently watched that made me feel a bit less anxious about the 'lack of aura' I'm experiencing through my work :

 "My ability has not yet caught up with my taste.”

ABSO-freakin-LUTELY. Elizabeth Gilbert couldn’t have put that feeling better. Instead of being at war with this gap between expectation and reality of what my work IS and COULD BE, why don’t I try to be at peace with it and work with it?

After launching my shop, the statement I always hear creatives say, ‘nobody is special’ makes so much sense and by thinking this way I feel like I’m more grounded with my work and myself and hence, less anxious and panicky. Especially when dedicating myself to my work.

I no longer think : "because I’m special therefore everything I make will and needs be remarkable or groundbreaking". Instead I ask : "since I’m not special, what is there to lose if I make work that is completely shit and that no one, including myself, likes it."

I feel a lot lighter thinking this way and It has become easier to pick up my brushes and just do. The act of doing is equally as valuable, if not more, as making a good piece of work. Most of the time, good work just happens, whereas initiating to paint doesn’t just happen, it takes a strong mind and discipline.

Of course I still have moments when I feel anxious when I’m about to paint, at the end of the day who doesn’t want to be Rambrant? But being aware of my ‘why’ (Why are you painting? why do you need to paint right now right here? What are you painting for? etc.) has put into perspective that the journey of painting or art for that matter is not a promised land filled only with joy and happiness, but it's more like the path of thorns where fear and suffering will always follow. What I need to learn is the ability to dance around the thorns until I reach the next door without getting cut too deeply. (I love metaphors lol)

Good luck and be careful of the thorns, my friends.


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What are your thoughts?