Art is not easy

Art is not easy at all. Sure there are times when an artist will feel a stroke of creative genius and roll off a piece or any number of pieces of work, but this is not at all the norm. Nor is it to be expected. If art were that easy there would be a great number more artists in the world AND it would not be nearly as satisfying as it is to finish a piece. If art were easy there would not be as many former artists in existence. It matters not what your art is. Be it photography, iconography, creative writing, painting, drawing, guitar, ballet, drums, modern dance, sculpture, ceramics, wood working or wood turning, this statement applies to all of the above and more. If you create art for any amount of time you are sure to experience more than your fare share of frustrations and heartaches as you work through difficult situations while creating your art. At the same time, you are also sure to experience at least a little happiness when you break through your frustrations and are able to finish the piece that you are working on.

The book “Art & Fear” tells us the difference between an artist and a former artist is that an artist is one who never gave up and quit on his/her work, while a former artist is one who hit a roadblock in their work and quit. To quit means that you stop and never return to the work. Artists often hit roadblocks in their work, and they are able to find a way through that roadblock. That does not mean that they do not from time to time put down their creative means for a time to take a rest, but since they have not quit they will return to their work when the time is right.

Especially in the learning stages, hitting roadblocks is part of the act of learning to do your art. The only way to learn to make art is to do art, and most of the time at first you won’t be very good at it. Even if you are a very good or even great artist, when you move in directions that challenge and make you grow, it can sometimes be painful. “You make good work by (among other things) making lots of work that isn’t very good, and gradually weeding out the parts that aren’t good, the parts that aren’t yours. It’s called feedback, and it’s the most direct route to learning about your own vision. It’s also called doing your work. After all, someone has to do your work, and you’re the closest person around.” (Art & Fear pg 26). The thing about the learning stages of art is that any time you push your creative boundaries farther than they have gone before, you enter back into the learning states of art. It is here that you experience the most frustrations, but also where you receive the biggest rewards when you find yourself growing as an artist.

If you are struggling through a piece of work, don’t quit. It is OK if you need to stop and take a rest from time to time, as long as you return to your work once you are rested and ready to go. You never know, your best work could be right around the corner.