What to do with Angst

This year will go down in my art files as the Year of the Tantrum. The studio is still reverberating with the echoes of one meltdown after another. Lest you think I am a whiner, let it be known that my older brothers called me 'Cry Baby' growing up. That should clarify things. Suffice to say I have gotten a hold of myself in adulthood. Mostly.

I have been alluding to a busy year, and it's true, it has been very busy. I won't list all the ways. Pretty much non-stop action in paint and life. In fact, I'm ready to end this year early so I can loll around like a beached whale soon. But not until November when my deadlines are met. I am blaming the busyness for most of my angst. Most, but not all.

So what happened you ask? Well. Let's just say I found myself playing the art tape I didn't want to play: "Nit Pickin' Fuss Budget". It's how I used to paint before I discovered I didn't want to anymore. Small brushes, obsessing over details, rendering with paint instead of painting with paint...all the things I swore I would stop doing. I won't blame it on one project. All of them had some variation of this theme this year.

A few days ago I decided I needed a break from paint, and picked up the charcoals instead. I wanted to clean the slate of my mind, and focus on just putting things down as I saw them, and no one else. Honest portrayal of a familiar face. So I did. Then I looked at it.

Rendered.. TO. DEATH.

I wiped it off no less than 3 times. Oddly, I didn't mind. "Now I have a base", I said to myself and the mice. "We'll start again tomorrow."

So I started again, and guess what? I did it again. Now I'm really mad. I grabbed my drawing rag and wiped it off left to right starting below the eyeballs. I put the rag down and left.

Giving myself more distance, I gathered my thoughts and decided what to do. I can either:

A.) Go deep into study mode and nitpick again, wondering while doing this if my son is flossing every tooth while at college. B.) I can just forget all that and express quickly, accuracy out the window. C.) I can see what happened with fresh eyes and decide what to keep, what to push further, what to let go.

So, I sprayed it with some fixative. And it splattered. Yeah. Deciding this was yet another joke from the universe, I chuckled aloud. Good thing no one heard me around here. It got out of control.

Lesson learned. There I go again, acting like the planned-filled painter I am not. The only Plan I have been trying to embrace is to not get stuck. Keep moving. All year, I have been pulling myself out of stuck.

But here's the real lesson for me: That's just how it goes.

There will always be angst. There will always be splats, moments of anger, extreme frustration. Yes, all this happens with creating I've found. None of it is easy, and it's not always fun. (See how I whine?)

Following the same trails never take me to a new place. A big wipeout is nothing more than a temporary setback, a chance to begin again. That's the key. It is so easy to just give up, get sad, repeat myself over and over beyond what my natural mark making is. It's ok to have a style, but the key is to change it enough with each piece to make it interesting For You First. If we aren't interested in our own work while making it, who the heck else will be?

The gift of angst. Wallow just long enough to get out.. Then begin again.

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