Artistic "Style" - Meditate on This No. 2

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I love painting loose abstract modern watercolours. I also love creating highly detailed watercolour animal portraits. I love painting loose landscapes or drawing meticulously in ink. When I think of all the things I paint and draw, it’s a pretty long list of subjects. Seeing so many different things all in one place caused so much confusion and almost a type of “artist paralysis.”

What in the heck is my style? How will I ever succeed if I don’t have a distinct style? What even is style?!

My thoughts generally went round and round in circles over questions like that. Then inevitably, the creative blues kicked in and I was suddenly spiralling into some weird and ridiculous identity/career crisis territory. I mean, really, come on now. Talk about a waste of time!

It was only recently when I was discussing said spiral that a friend said: “I think you are using this idea of style as a crutch, as a delay tactic in just going for it.” I have to say, it took all of 2 seconds for me to hear it and totally agree. Then she asked me: “Are you willing to let this idea of ‘style’ go? Can you commit to action and embrace all avenues of your art?”

I really wanted to say yes at that moment but, like quitting a bad habit, I knew letting go of the “style struggle” wasn’t going to happen with the snap of my fingers. I expect it’s going to be an up and down battle to let go and commit to what drives the paintbrush to move in my hand.

However, I do think that the tides have turned thanks to that one conversation. It’s become easier to stop the spiral faster and many days it can be avoided entirely! As an artist and freelancer, these types of mental blips are abound to happen, but when they do, they won’t seem so dramatic as they have in the past.

You may not always see your style but trust in the creative process and embrace all aspects of your creativity. You’ll be so glad you did!

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Meditate on This - No.1

I was chatting with a friend about the hurdles one faces in a creative career. I talked about the struggles and the frustrations and the confusion; I kept saying, "Oh I don't know if I can do that. I'm not sure I'm brave enough or have the right voice/look/style/experience...." etc. etc. etc. It was then and there that she interrupted me and asked: "What are you afraid of?"

I stammered to actually have a coherent and legitimate answer as she probed into why I felt "I could never do this" or "I'm not brave enough to do that." And then she sent me this quote:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

― Marianne Williamson

I found it extremely inspiring and thought provoking. Whatever you do, whatever goals you have,  I bet you've been given everything you need to succeed.

Don't let your light frighten you. 


Create Without Drama


I was listening to the Being Boss podcast the other day and Kathleen said something that really struck me: "Create without drama." My first thought was, "drama like tortured artist drama?" The whole tortured—perhaps mentally unstable from all the paint and varnish fumes—artist persona is an extreme. But like most things, drama comes with varying levels and degrees of severity. So what is this drama she's talking about?

I must confess: I create with drama. What's my drama (is this word losing all meaning for you too)? I create and then I work myself up into a panic that people won't like what I do. I build up this fear and nurture silly insecurities, alongside my writing, sketches, this blog, this website, design projects; and I let it cloud over the joy of creating something.

This debate with the inner critic that leads to fear, insecurity and Creative Block is the drama. This is the drama we need to leave behind in order to move forward.

Sound familiar yet? I'm sure I'm not the only one who hesitates sharing even small creations (like this blog post). For me, the drama that accompanies creativity is the fear of putting my work out there. Essentially, it's a fear of being judged. If you feel this way too, stop and think for a minute: whose opinion are you most worried about? If you are really honest with yourself, I'm willing to bet that the insecurity to share a dream, a goal, a creation, comes from the fear of being judged by a particular people—people who care about you and want only what's best for you. Is it worth it to be worried about a few people's opinions, no matter how well intentioned? Probably not, but only you can be the judge of that.

Paradoxically, there is also the fear of not being seen. In our social media world filled with followers and likes, it's way too easy to fall into the trap of relating your creative worth to the amount of likes and followers you have. This quantitative way we live online adds another, super weird level to our creative drama.

I wish I had the answer on how to deal with the fears of having your creative work be seen and not seen. All I can say to myself and to anyone in need of a encouraging shove, do your best to create without drama.