You never really think that social media platforms like Twitter really “say” much in the way of valuable thoughts and feelings.
A few days ago I mentioned this on Twitter:
#Creativity Hurts…No matter how great you are http://ow.ly/i/etF6 R.J. #quote
Recently we sold a painting that was particularly loved by my whole family… still, to this day, every time we part with a painting it stirs up emotions that are so conflicting it’s a wonder that anyone can really sell a painting. To put it mildly, it’s a bit painful parting with my work. Conflicting emotions, joy…and sorrow.
That’s when I remembered the 1965 movie “The Agony & The Ecstasy”, starring Charlton Heston. Heston portrays Michelangelo during the period he painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. I am certainly no Michelangelo, but however I related to his intense emotion in the movie. This movie is filled with emotional highs & lows, and if you ever read books about the life of Michelangelo it was no picnic for someone as brilliantly creative as this genius. His life was filled with conflicting emotions, extreme joy and then angst.
“I have suffered great sorrow…God willed it so” ~ Michelangelo Buonarroti
I know lots of creative people that feel when somebody buys a piece of their artwork it’s like stamp of approval and that they (finally) have value. During all those years that I hocked my photography the emotions attached were simple. I always had the negative and retained a nice set of prints for use in portfolios or to hang on the wall. Letting go was never an issue.
Of course, recieving a check for a painting is sweet. It psychologically off-sets the financial commitment you made to become an artist in the first place. So for that, it is certainly a reward.
I often wonder what cruel trick has been played on the most talent of us human beings. Would you want the fame of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert or Vivaldi? What about artists like Van Gogh (the patron saint of Bad Luck), Modigliani, Lautrec, Gorky, Gauguin or Pollock? The emotional and psychological challenges these brilliant people faced for most of us would be truly unbearable. And to add the maximum insult some never really became famous or in some cases notorious in their lifetimes. More often than not barely making enough money to eat, let alone buy paint and canvas. Just how much anxiety is there when you have a brilliant artistic concept floating around in your brain day after day, week after week, sometimes months and years before you can actually commit it to canvas? It’s gotta hurt.
“I consciously chose the dog’s path through life. I shall be poor; I shall be a painter.” ~ Vincent Van Gogh
The maximum creative pain award goes to…poets. Although the pain they experienced may be the catalyst for some of their greatest works. I’m thinking Keats, Poe, Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath. Now we’re getting into some serious creative hurt.
Creativity in all its forms, seems to come with a price. Probably, more often than not, self inflicted. Have you ever completed a painting and your heart and soul were filled with joy, only to revisit days later and ask yourself…”What the hell was I thinking?” And then weeks perhaps months later, you look at it again and go…”Ah, that’s not bad work.”Or if you are really fickle, you may say to yourself “Wow…that’s pretty good.” “Did I really paint that???” This isn’t just for painters… composers, writers, poets, sculptors … they all experience these feelings. The suffering here comes from your own insecurities and lack of confidence. Even Pablo Picasso who by anyone’s standards is one of the greatest artists who ever lived often wined to his intimates that he didn’t feel like he was good enough or doubted his own veracity as an artist. I can hear you commenting to yourself right now, I should be so lucky as to be 1/10th as successful as Pablo. And you say to yourself I would relish and enjoy every minute, every accolade, the security of a rich bank account and I would snivel to no one.
The trick is to relish every peak, every success, every joy… with the understanding that there will always be challanges, no matter what you do in your life. I touched on this in my blog Men vs Women Artists.
[Artists] have their ups and downs…for a while everything you do is wonderful or you think it is, then you slide down…pulling yourself up again is the most important part of your life. ~ Milton Resnick
Immersing your life in creativity has a price. And for some, a very high price. I don’t know if it equates to your effort or not…Paul Klee stated, “He who strives will never enjoy this life peacefully.”
I often refer to it [creative hurts] in my own life as creative dissatisfaction. But I… and I suggest to all…” Learn to live peak to peak, sooner or later the valleys will fill in with discarded memories”.