You’re Your Own Worst Enemy, Frances

A few weeks ago, a good friend came over to swap plants and have tea. She’s a local artist and herbalist whom I have known for several years. Mary works primarily in mosaics and stained glass, but she is also an accomplished painter and mixed media artist.

At the time, I was really struggling with a lack of motivation and feeling overwhelmed. People who aren’t artists think we just sit around making art all day, enjoying ourselves. I do love making art. It’s the reason I push myself so hard, even on days when it seems like I’m not getting anywhere. I often feel like I will always be painting in the spare bedroom, with no prospects for art shows or patronage. It sometimes makes it very difficult to keep creating.

A lot of the pressure I feel comes from social media – everyone else looks like a huge success. Some of it comes from isolation – I live in a rural community that does not support the arts and I don’t have a lot of in-person exposure to other people’s art. Most of the pressure I feel is internal, of course. I shouldn’t be comparing myself to other people’s progress, or portrayal of success online. We’re all in a different place in our careers and we all have different schedules. I’m not in a place yet where I can focus entirely on my art 24/7.

The thing that struck me the most from my conversation with Mary, and prompted this post, was her comment to me, “You’re your own worst enemy, Frances”. Honestly, I took it a little hard, and felt bad the rest of the day. The comment wasn’t meant as criticism, it was a simple observation. A few days later, I realized she was right and that I could use the realization to set myself straight.

The whole time we were talking, I was expressing reasons why I can’t achieve goals, or criticisms of my creative process. I wasn’t giving myself credit for any of the huge milestones I have set and met over the last two years. My whole viewpoint had become hopeless and self-defeating.

I’m still struggling with how to manage all of my ideas, build a portfolio, be more efficient at project management, and establish a business mindset. Content creation for online marketing alone is daunting, not to mention the time and logistics of self-promotion. Finding representation and getting into shows is a huge hurdle and I need passive income streams to manage the costs of supplies, marketing, and submitting work to shows and publications. I don’t really know how to tackle it all yet, but I’m trying to put everything into an outline so I have a place to start and a way to track goals.
Do you struggle with some of these issues in your own creative practice? If so, how are you managing them or overcoming obstacles to improve your creativity?

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