Chapter 6 of Ian Roberts' book Creative Authenticity: 16 Principles to Clarify and Deepen Your Artistic Vision is about showing up. He begins this chapter by writing: Nothing determines the success of your creative life more than doing it. Amen to that! And, he adds, there's something within us that "calls" us to create, that acts as an inner voice that we shouldn't ignore. The point is that if we don't show up to do our work it doesn't get done and then there's no chance for advancement. And, if we do show up for work one small step will lead to another and another, and so on until, before you know it, you've made great strides in your work.
Roberts also addresses the doubts and fears that often keep us from showing up; the ones that make us procrastinate and find some other activity that diverts us from the studio (blogging, perhaps??). Often, we'll hide behind our fear of failure, ridicule, and incompetence. I got past that when I learned to accept and even embrace the fact that THERE WILL ALWAYS BE SOMEONE ELSE who paints better than I do, has better ideas than mine, is smarter, prettier, faster, thinner, you get the picture. Should that stop me? No! I just keep plodding along. Over time, this adds up to a lot of little successes that amount to something really wonderful. over an entire lifetime.
But, how do I manage to keep plodding along? Admittedly, sometimes I don't feel like exerting the effort necessary to get those creative juices flowing. Especially, now that it's colder outside and inside, too. I'd rather snuggle up under an afghan with a book and cup of tea. So, I made the conscious decision that my art IS my job, but in a good way. I can't wait to get to work, and the moment I put on my "work clothes" and head into the studio I'm elated by the prospect of what might happen today. I play my favorite music, put a large cup of tea near the easel (where I sometimes mistake it for the brush cleaning bowl) and paint with abandon. Honestly, is there a BETTER job on this planet? I don't know of one. But, I don't "just" show up for work, I always try to show up on time so that I don't fall into the habit of procrastination. I set specific hours and stick to it. Luckily, my boss lets me take a lunch break so I can read your comments on my blog :-)
Like any job, there's a real world aspect to being a professional artist that can interfere with our desire to show up. As in industry, the art world has members who seek to undermine those who are advancing. There's jealousy, bitterness, and even sabotage. I may not be on a high rung of the "corporate ladder" in the art world, but I've experienced this many times from other artists. It's important ignore it and move on, and it's equally important to help other artists around you who are struggling. We're all in this together. So, my friends, consider today's blog a friendly reminder to show up to work today! As Roberts puts it: are you going to follow your dream or not?