Creative Independence

Artists and Self-Compassion

Self-compassion for artists

Impatience, scatterdness, information overload, learning, learning, learning.
Who has time for creativity or even a little self-compassion when you can’t do it all?

One day off, but we need to do errands, clean house, eat, clean kitchen, eat again, clean kitchen again. Load the washer, fold the clothes, put them away. You see a spider in the corner, you look up, a web on the ceiling, you need to vacuum. In the midst of all this, you pass your small portable studio lingering in the corner.

You’ve managed to keep up the 100 days project, but nothing more, no exploration, no new finished works.

The night falls quickly this time of year, without natural light, painting becomes difficult.

The day job is exhausting.

Who has time for creativity?

The question is almost painful when you take a five minute break and you open Tumblr.

An artist is standing in front of her finished piece. Someone has taken a beautiful picture of her, you see her back, she’s touching her hair and she is wearing a stunning tunic.

Everything about the picture is perfect, most of all the gigantic painting against the wall, finished and signed. Immortalized by the, most likely, professional photographer.

True story. It happened yesterday.

The hope was that my schedule would make it look like that. Finished piece after finished piece.

This evening, I have two choices, considering my tiredness, I can sit in front of the TV and watch a movie or I can do my two hours of painting.

Do you coerce yourself? or do you practice self-compassion. What are the consequences of self-coercion?

If I force myself, usually I end up feeling like I didn’t do anything. The thing I made myself do doesn’t count much, it only counts because I checked it off, while if I manage to ease myself into thinking I should do at least a little, I wind up doing the full stretch and sometimes more.

So don’t coerce yourself, gently approach the task and begin something. The check-mark on the to-do list isn’t what counts.

What counts is being happy for a piece that didn’t exist before.

Check out Dr. Kristin Neff’s work on Self-Compassion.

Her book is truly helpful without being commonplace.

Read more essays here

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