05 September 2018
A Pain In The Art
Here's my latest painting, which I managed to knock out after a whole lot of the usual lack of self-belief, anxiety-induced executive functioning deficient dithering and inertia (a new thing about which I was recently made aware), which is produced whenever I'm faced with the prospect of needing (even wanting) to put paint to paper.
I may not be improving when it comes to how I feel about my painting, but I have got better at believing in my ability to draw - so, in order to postpone the "dreaded deed", I simply drew a number of things until I felt suitably girded in the loins to take the plunge and get out the painting gear. And here's the result.
Of course I wasn't happy with it, and gave a running criticism of it while I was doing it - it will be a miracle if the day ever comes when I am, and I don't. Nor did I particularly enjoy doing it, because I was so fucking uptight and anxious about whether I was getting it "right", and doing it "properly" (those words are the bane of my existence: I shall have them engraved on my gravestone - 'She died right, and properly: indeed, she was a right proper charlie').
I know "great" artists are often depicted as tortured, hyper self-critical souls, being driven by the unrelenting need to improve and perfect their art, which is often seen as a sign of their greatness, but I didn't want to be one of those kinds of artists who suffered for their art. I mean, for fuck's sake, I don't know how they ever managed to get anything done if they suffered anything like the bloody insecurities and almost catatonia-inducing fear of making mistakes which I do.
Perhaps that's the point, though. Perhaps they don't feel the same. Perhaps they aren't driven by the same things. Perhaps at their core they believe that they are great, and they're driven to prove it; and what they fear is being proven to be average. Me, I have no sense of my own ability, so I constantly seek to measure it against other people - which means I end up trying to copy them, trying to follow directions which I don't fully comprehend (but think I do), and trying to adjust myself to suit another person's modus operandi. So whenever I pick up a paintbrush it's like there are two people with me at the easel - there's me, and there's whoever is the latest 'guru' artist to whom I've taken a shine, both fighting to stamp their mark on the paper.
I often find myself wondering whether I'm lying to myself when I say that I love painting. I mean, you wouldn't think this was the case given the torturous (and tortuous) process I have to go through to motivate myself to do it. It's like pulling teeth without an anaesthetic. Perhaps I should just use a bit of reverse psychology, and come out and say, "I FUCKING WELL HATE PAINTING!!!", see if that changes anything.
Perhaps, though, it's not that I hate painting, but rather that I hate painting the way I think other people paint, or the way I think that other people would tell me I should paint. After all, I am (annoyingly) also oppositionally defiant, so if I even feel as if I'm being expected to do something (yes, even if it's something I want to do) then I automatically will do the opposite. Don't ask me why - it's one of the great, unfathomable, frustrating mysteries of my personality, which makes me want to tear my head off and stamp on it.
So, you want me to paint - I don't want to; you think my paintings are great - I think they're not good enough, probably never will be, and all I can see are the mistakes I made; you think I'm a good artist - I think I'm average, and not as good as... (insert long list of artists' names here), and never will be. It makes me wonder how I've managed to produce anything at all with a brain like mine. I should just go and eat worms.
"Do you believe in Magic?" asked Colin.
"That I do, lad," she answered. "I never knowed it by that name, but what does th' name matter? I warrant they call it a different name i' France an' a different one i' Germany. Th' same thing as set th' seeds swellin' an' th' sun shinin' made thee well lad an' it's th' Good Thing. It isn't like us poor fools as think it matters if us is called out of our names. Th' Big Good Thing doesn't stop to worrit, bless thee. It goes on makin' worlds by th' million - worlds like us. Never thee stop believin' in th' Big Good Thing an' knowin' th' world's full of it - an call it what tha' likes. Eh! lad, lad - what's names to th' Joy Maker."
From 'The Secret Garden', by Frances Hodgson Burnett
"There is no way to happiness - happiness is the way."
The Dalai Lama
"If you don't stand for something you will fall for anything."