I had the good fortune to be able to spend some time with an artist friend of mine. She is a fabric artist, a visual artist. In our discussion I mentioned how sometimes my wife is jealous of the passion I feel about my medium and what I do. I love that feeling of passion I have for photography and the visual arts that I work in. Its a feeling I haven’t felt toward any other work I have done. My friend expressed the same feelings for her medium and that she has been on the other side of the issue, that is, being a bit jealous of someone else who had the passion before she found hers.

Then my friend said something that surprised me a bit. She feared losing inspiration. It occured to me that an artist’s biggest fear is really a loss of the passion and inspiration to create new pieces more than anything else. If we don’t sell our work we can still create it and work at finding our patrons. But to lose the inspiration and the passion is to lose the very core of our creative beings. Even if we were to continue to sell our work, the feeling of self worth as an artist would be gone. That would be very hard to take I think. 

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10 thoughts on “An Artist’s Biggest Fear

  1. I think that inspiration/passion is one of those things that if you hold on to it too tightly, you may squash it. There are times when it wanders off, and you just have to trust that it will find its way back to you.

    It’s also why I’m glad my various interests are so different: photography, design, coding. When I lose interest in one, I usually get inspired in another. Usually one of them keeps me motivated.

  2. Hey Dan,

    I think what you’re saying is very true. One may have to have enough faith in themselves to let the inspiration/passion ebb and flow naturally. I do try to maintain it with reading and outings just to spend time looking. Also, being around other creative people helps me.

  3. I’ve been down that road & back again more than once, myself. It’s very hard to maintain passion/inspiration in creative fields. At SOME point it seems inevitable but to ask (if one’s not having success @ turning works over,) “Why bother?” I “gave up” art twice, but after one year (the 1st time,) & 10 years (the 2nd time,) I came back to it with better skills. Didn’t make sense–usually “practice makes perfect”–but there’s more to painting than painting, really. There’s developing “the eye,” for example. Even if you don’t intend to. However, if I’m not inspired/motivated, forcing myself to paint is a baaaaaaaaad idea. I won’t enjoy the process & the end result will be of poor quality, at best. I think it’s unrealistic to think that a creative person of any stripe can maintain inspiration/passion forever. Change is a natural law & anything that doesn’t, becomes stagnant.
    But I’m tired & ranting… <:\
    Sorry I’ve been AWOL, btw. Playing tour guide to my Canadian friend.

  4. Lana, – thanks for offering your experience. I do think everyone has to work through this issue in their own way. Sometimes just allowing periods of downtime is a good sollution. For others exercising their minds (or bodies even) can bring them out of a creative lull. I do know others who just power themselves through it. What was interesting to me was how it was not my friend’s fear of non-productivity that was the concern as much as missing the feeling of doing something they were passionate about.

  5. I think that my biggest fear is not so much “lost” passion…but “mis-directed” passion…or that many scattered interests and pursuits are too distracting….and may take away from the greater artistic success that I might have had if only I’d been more “single-minded” in my life’s pursuit.

    Then again, if one never leaves the studio….the art surely becomes stale in a hurry. And what fun is that?

  6. Stephanie (Horseworks) – I have gone through that as well. I get interested in many areas of photography and find myself needing to pull myself back in order not ot get off track. If I had endless time, there are many things I’d love to pursue.

  7. Paul,

    Seems like you touched a nerve with this one… I agree but… My humble perspective…

    I too have a difficult time imagining my life without scanning the world to see what I see. It is now engrained in me. It connects me, it amuses me, it enhances me. But it also seems that while the act of viewing is one step in the process of photography, it can be an end to itself. As final concrete results, my many unsuccessful photos do not (or at least should not) diminish the other positive steps that led up to pressing the shutter.

    Obviously passion can have many forms, many not artistic (raising children, running a business, involvement in a sport, collecting, etc.). I have to believe that a life without a passion, or at least a strong interest or focus, has to be more difficult to find happiness than a life with it. However one must be very cautious before judging such matters.

    The Zen view is “attachment” is a roadblock on a path to enlightenment. It strikes me that to worry about not being passionate indicates a strong attachment. (& I admit once more, personally, right now, I most definitely am not immune. I would much rather be stuck with my attachment than without it, but I try to recognize it for what it is.)

    If one accepts that we are spiritual beings, it is not too large a leap to accept that we are more (or at least have the potential to be) than whatever form our current manifestation happens to be. The positive actions of our lives may result in permanent benefits, but even a positive manifestation is only temporary.

    Though I am light-years away from this point, I accept the “conclusion” that there is a passion that has no concrete manifestation. One can simply move through life, rejoicing in & enjoying the moments it provides, with nothing more required.

  8. Marty – man I always enjoy your input. Yes, yes, yes, I admit it, I have an attachment to having a passion in the arts. I like it, maybe I even have a need for the attachment. And if thats un-Zen well so be it. It may be that photography (or what ever art form I would have chosen) is my crutch to allowing a rejoicing in the moments that life provides. If that is true, then photography (i.e, art) is only another means to the same end as that which requires nothing else.

  9. Hey Paul – boy the whole spouse jealousy thing is probably enough subject material for a book. I can relate to the fear of losing inspiration, as it passes through me now and then. Haven’t really dealt with it in any specific way other than recognize that perhaps it is a time for a small break to recollect my thoughts and ultimately inspiration again.

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