watercolor portrait

Open Energy, Closed Energy

Do you have open energy running through your body?

Watercolor and pencil
Watercolor and pencil

Creating work out of that pressure, doing all of the things that you have been taught by others, and listening to that voice in your head that tells you you need to be better is not what will create that success you are craving. The true work, (meaning the work you are here to do), comes from a completely different place than this. This energy of pressure actually does very little to move you ahead and into the place where you desire to go, and in some cases can even lead you in the complete opposite direction. I know your head is telling you you need to do it but really that is just dogma you have been taught by other people who are scared of going to their own true place (doing the work that they are really meant to do), so they go on repeating what they were told by other fearful people, and so on and so on.

Keri Smith

How easy it is to lose one’s path and direction, how easy it is to go down one rabbit hole and then down the next. How easy it is to get distracted and then get discouraged and how easy it is to be tempted to abandon everything. How easy it is to “imitate” what other people are doing because you think it’s what you have to do.

I go back and forth in this pendulum. The more I try to do my own thing, it’s always influenced by the “industry”, either in my art or in my web development work.

It seems like I’m not completing projects because I have too much on my plate and this is turning me into a very nasty moody monster. But when I ask  myself: “what do I need?” there is silence.

I went to a French conversation group this week where we were supposed to talk about our “passions”, one of the attendees said, I have no passions, passions are by definition something that causes suffering, so I don’t have any. I found it interesting because I was all set to speak about my passion for drawing and painting and when he said this, I recognized that at this moment, I am “suffering” for my passion and this set alarms in all areas of my life because I know that the next stage is going to be abandonment.

Why is it difficult right now?

  • Not knowing what direction to take with my art: Should I concentrate on my watercolor portrait illustration? or should I pursue my clip art design?
  • Should I focus on my Etsy shop or should I try to develop a stand-alone shop?
  • Should I produce a lot of work before I attempt to create a side-income from my art?
  • How can I combine my two main professional activities harmoniously?

I have been following Keri Smith since 2003, even before I had an inclination to pursue any type of visual art, her advice has been so useful in many different areas and times of my life. To revise the post quoted above, was a pressing matter:

She speaks or energy, whether it’s open or closed energy. She says:

Open energy: light, energized, ecstatic, inquisitive, curious, want to stay up all night, go for a run, feel like you can conquer the universe, tuned in, radiating, etc.

Closed energy: tired, small, sick to your stomach, tight, passive, unengaged, unmotivated, discouraged, overwhelmed, frustrated, fearful, uninspired, etc.

This is a great start. To untangle all this*

Open energy:

  1. I experience open energy and curiosity when I’m drawing my intriguing ladies. I’m not sure I feel like I can conquer the universe but I feel at peace. When I finish one of them, I like to put it up on my wall, I have a connection with it. I know what she’s feeling.
  2. I’m happy and energized during the research phase of my clip art, during the sketching, but less so when working in Illustrator.
  3. Idea generation energizes me to the point of feeling dizzy and estatic.
  4. Creating stories, whether for a website or an illustration.

Closed energy:

  1. When I have to do a lot of nitty gritty work in the computer, a lot of copy paste (code, content, etc).
  2. I feel uninspired and stressed when there is an intermediary between me and the client.
  3. Self-promoting, writing formulaic blog posts or other marketing materials for myself or my small business.
  4. I am not detail oriented. This causes me much anguish because every single job posting and everything in this planet seems to be designed for detail oriented people. I am a “big picture” kind of person. I am the parachute. So when I’m asked to copy-edit something, my eyes will jump over a comma or an accent and I will feel terribly incompetent and depleted and it doesn’t matter all my work was outstanding, there is a detail that will trip me up.

It doesn’t matter one iota if you are unsure of what it is that you want to say just yet. The more you try to trust the process, the more you will figure it out piece by piece. But I will give you one more clue, focus your energy equally on things that get you really excited and things that get you really riled up (angry).

Keri Smith

This last paragraph leaves me with mixed feelings because one of my biggest mental blocks is age. Age, the number of years I have been on this planet and the number of years I (possibly) have left, and what I have done, what I haven’t, what I want to do. This is such a first-world-pain and such entitlement, but the block is there and it becomes an existential itch. How do I make myself trust the process? How do I make myself understand that if I make one drawing each day, it’s enough? That I don’t have to kick myself because I don’t do more? That a modest job while I work on my style, my message and my overall body of work is perfectly acceptable?

So do I have a passion?
Yes I do, and I want to get rid of it.