During the first years of this recession I worked at an art gallery, and while the slow decline in sales was disappointing, I was surrounded by people who appreciated the value of original art.
However, this year I have been working in a non-art related field, and there is one influence I never expected: Being around people on a daily basis who have different priorities lessens my sense of value in what we do as artists.
This is a normal and expected experience. We are often shaped by the values of others without fully noticing that we might gradually like something more and another thing less. In many cases we don’t notice, because the changes are unimportant.
But even in our strongest moments, we may not appreciate the fragile nature of value. This can become an insidious challenge for the artist – because it cuts at the very root of every inspiration we might experience.
I began to realize this as I searched for a safe place to store my art. For years I have used a spare bedroom to store paintings, but as I increasingly had visitors I would move things out of the bedroom and into the studio, disrupting the peaceful order of that space. Then I took to storing paintings wrapped in plastic in the garage, or destroying those I considered too old or not up to my current standards. And while my efforts at storage were reasonable, I began to recognize that on another level my actions were unreasonable.
We are not always sensitive to the way our actions reinforce our belief system, and consequently we experience small moments of self-sabotage and not even realize it. In fact, we might even tell ourselves that storing paintings in plastic in the garage is an acceptable solution without acknowledging that by also allowing other stuff to pile up around them is reinforcing a different message…these are not important. And even if this was not the message we think we believe, or the message we intended to send, it is the message we subconsciously absorb every time we have to move all the stuff that has gotten in the way just to find a single canvas.
And that is real self-sabotage.
Which just might mean finding a safe place for your art.
"I've got my book in the mail and I read it with great pleasure. You have a great style and the whole book is such an inspiration. I really enjoyed it and I keep it handy for all the moments when I doubt myself." SM, Australia