Manic depression is one of the hallmarks of the creative soul, apparently. I'd have to agree from experience. Sometimes life sucks, and when it does it becomes exceedingly hard to draw from the creative well. That always starts a vicious cycle that can become overwhelming. Feeling too glum to paint leads to massive guilt because of valuable time being wasted, which then leads to deeper depression until it is impossible to find the desire to climb out of the despair. Grrrrrrr, we really are our own worst enemy at times like these.
What started me on this negative rant this morning? I've been feeling down for many months and this is just part of that baggage. I'm feeling trapped by my existence. Where I have lived for the past twenty years has not been conducive to pursuing an art career. It's a small, remote village three-hours away from the nearest traffic light; a day's travel from the nearest major urban centre - and any hope of an audience. A dying resource economy has drained the vitality from our citizens - we are all in survival mode - and it's pervasive.
My paintings gather dust in my studio - it's been years since anyone but a small handful have seen them. Anyone in my hometown who would want to buy my work has already bought it. And my hopes of reaching a web audience seem to have foundered on some impenetrable wall as my blog and website remain unvisited. (Is anyone reading this anywhere?)
As I surf the web in search of answers I stumble across young artistic talents who have achieved wide exposure only a few years out of Art School, their online galleries show "SOLD" on nearly everything. I don't know what their secret is. But it fuels the doubts that hound us artists and I end up questioning my choice of subject matter, my technique, my medium - worst of all I question my skills. Am I really an artist at all after all these years?
I've wrestled with these demons many times and I'm familiar with their taunts. It is hard, but I close my ears to them and grit my teeth and try to stay focused on doing the work. Only by doing my art can I get better - and I hold out the hope that by getting better I will find an audience for it.
Thank God for the models who pose for me! The moments of brightness they bring into my life are all that prevents dark despair from destroying me. I feel incredibly blessed whenever I meet a woman who believes in my work enough to share her beauty and spirit with me. It is that warmth and humanity that sustains the willingness to attempt these marks on paper. When they succeed and my model is happy with how I have shown her to the world then I truly feel like I have succeeded as an artist in a small way.