Self-doubt

I am going through some existential angst right now. I am questioning everything I thought I knew, for a series of events has occurred to make me doubt the direction I have taken my creative life. First; my sister sent me a link to NanNoWriMo, an online writing group/competition, which reminded me of a long-held desire to write fantasy, and of the several epic novels I had been writing. I had put that all aside when I decided that my interests and energies were too widely dispersed; that I should focus my time on visual art. Now I realize that I have missed writing, and I wonder if I made the wrong decision, since other events now cause me to feel that perhaps I am not meant to be visual artist.

Normally, I would have just stuck to the plan, dismissing those concerns as mere nostalgia. But the next event made my concerns more real. I had been working the last few weeks on potential entries to a local juried art competition. I figured it would be a good thing to do, in terms of furthering my art career, and in jump-starting my flagging motivation. This past Sunday was the entry deadline. I ended up not entering anything at all. For one, I decided it was too expensive; a $30 dollar entry fee for the first piece, followed by an additional $10 for each piece thereafter. I didn’t know what pieces I wanted to enter. I don’t have the money to frame prints and drawings, so I dismissed those. I have very little confidence in the few paintings I have ready to show. I feel like my paintings are boring, substandard images (even though I actually like them), and that its not worth the money to invest in them.

I know that is just a projection of my insecurities about myself. I know that I am not the right person to be judging my work–that my works and my creative efforts deserve the privilege of being seen and judged by my peers, for whom my efforts are ultimately meant (Art is meant for the world, not for the artist alone). But I don’t feel I can absorb the financial (and emotional) cost of a rejection.

Deciding not to enter the show, even for financial concerns (for it really is out of my budget), made me wonder if I am truly motivated to pursue a career in the visual arts. And I have been long aware that I feel no overwhelming desire to pursue this direction in my artmaking. I’m not sure that I have any real passion for painting or drawing. My passion lies in the design and manufacture of jewelry. Maybe it is a waste of creative energy to pursue activities that distract from what I actually desire to do. I don’t want to label myself a painter when that is not my goal. Besides, I don’t think I am a good painter. There are so many painters that are so much better me! Although I like many of the pieces I’ve made, I have to say that I am not sure that I love them, or that other people could ever love them either.

The other event that caused all this self-doubt is this comment I wrote for Valerie’s “Literary Vixen” entry, in which she lamented her lack of passion and direction, and to which I reply that enjoyment, discipline, and determination are all that is required. I asserted that passion is just the reward for work accomplished, not the cause. Now I wonder if I am right, or if I am only deluding myself as well as Valerie. Is it passion that makes work worth doing? If so, then everything I’ve been doing for the last few years is meaningless. Is the passion I felt while designing and making jewelry the result of the work I completed or a was it a passion for the work itself? I honestly can’t remember. I’m am not certain that there is even a distinction between the two: is passion passion regardless from whence it comes?

This I do know: jewelry is in my blood, metal is part of my soul. I cannot give it up, and that was never my intention. But I do not have the tools or the resources to nurture that calling, so I must keep it closed up in a box inside me, as a gift I could retrieve and open up if and when I am able, once more. But the need to create is strong within me, and I try to feed that need with what I can. I do enjoy everything I do. I enjoy painting. I enjoy drawing and photoshopping. And I enjoy writing, too. I miss writing, because I haven’t done it for a long time (its one reason why I started blogging). But I’m not excited about any of it. I’m not motivated about any of it. I do it only because I feel a NEED to create.

I suppose I am searching for that passion I once felt when working with metal. I fear I’ll never find it with anything else, and I fear I’ll never be able to work with metal again. And that makes me resent all the other projects that seem somehow to keep me from returning to my heart’s desire. And then I feel guilty for not appreciating the worth of those other ideas, for as children of my spirit, they are all worthy of my attention. They all deserve a shot at existence. But perhaps I blame the wrong thing. Perhaps my lack of motivation, desire, and passion has less to do with my longing for jewelry, and more to do with the depression arising from unrelated personal issues (which I am not willing to discuss here).

Regardless, at this point in time, I have no idea what to do, or how to achieve a life or sense of self that makes all I want to do worth doing.

PS: I have cross-posted this entry into my other blog, because it fits there too.

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3 thoughts on “Self-doubt

  1. Whatever you do, you are the only person who can do it like that, therefore, comparisons are effectively meaningless (but tempting nonetheless). I think living is itself creative, and if we get in touch with ourselves on that level, all we produce gleams with the patina of our passion. I now write a lot again, but I haven’t drawn or painted or thrown a pot in a age. All my creative efforts are valid, but I agree that having sufficient self-belief to put them in the public arena is a challenging step. Just because you’re not ready to take it doesn’t invalidate the work.

    Puss

  2. my opinion is that it is useless to compare your art to anyone else’s. what you create is unique, it is your own, and you should paint with the motivation of expressing yourself without regard to anything else. If all artists’ work were judged on that of other artists we’d only have one artists’ work to look at, all others having been deemed as inferior and unworthy. Ridiculous, no? So – create or don’t create art as your desires dictate, period.

    But – from what you’ve written, you know what you want to do – create jewelry. Put your energies into that. If that is truly your hearts desire, you will make it happen.

    it is overquoted, but this lyric from the rolling stones sums it up beautifully – you may not get what you want, but (sic) you just might find you get what you need.

  3. Glam–“I think living itself is creative, and if we get in touch with ourselves on that level, all we produce gleams with the patina of our passion.” I really like that. Such a beautiful saying!

    I agree with you, actually. I just don’t think I feel alive right now.

    Bob (please forgive my philosophical tangent)–Comparisons may be detrimental, but they are often necessary. Comparisons are the basis of all judgments. Whether one piece is a success or failure depends largely upon comparisons to other, SIMILAR pieces. The problem is determining what are fair comparisons to make. In art, generally, proper (fair) judgement is made comparing pieces that are similar in style, content, and execution. My problem is I don’t know what to compare my work to! Which is why I need the judgement of my peers. Like every other artist out there, I am too apt to compare myself to artists I consider my superiors. LOL.

    As for the jewelry problem, well that’s my next post, for it is far too complex to explain in a comment.

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