Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Rediscovering your inner artist

Rediscovering your inner artist

March 8, 2011

Dear Maria,

Yesterday, Darryl Daniels of Montgomery, AL wrote, "I lost my 'inner artist' over a period of years when I was taking care of my grandparents, trying to run a business and dealing with the challenges of marriage, etc. I stopped thinking about art and was knocked off course. While I now have art magazines, books and other forms of stimulation, I can't begin again and I have persistent feelings of failure. When I think about what I have not done, the work ahead seems like an overwhelming mountain. How does one recover from this condition?"

Thanks, Darryl. I'm willing to bet that every artist in the history of art has suffered from your condition. Some suffer for months or years, others weekly, others several times a day. I'm suffering from it right this minute, but there's a good chance I'll be back to work as soon as I get this letter written.

Generally speaking, books, magazines and other stimuli don't work. You have to steel yourself up and get yourself busy. It's the work itself that rocks the mountain. If there ever was such a thing as an "inner artist," it's something like a pile of loose bricks that you have to form into a small monument every day. This is the simple difference between dreamers and doers. I call it the "worker's edge."

A goodly part of the worker's edge is the knowledge and understanding that your personal creative processes are their own reward. Painting, for example, can be a parade of minor defeats and failures, but nevertheless the personal and individual working process is more positive than negative. Up here in Canada we call it "beavering away." Beavering can start at any time, even with old beavers. Our national animal serves us well. Beavers pay little attention to the overweening mountain. Simple accumulation changes the course of rivers.

What happened to your inner artist? Your inner artist has just been temporarily out of action. Your basic human instinct to invent, create and build is still just below the surface. To flourish, you need to exercise. Ready or not, you need to start. The philosopher Lao-Tzu(604 BC--531 BC) said it some time ago: "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

Best regards,

Robert Genn

PS: "Just keep going--no feeling is final." (Rainer Maria Rilke) 

Esoterica: Failure is a basic ingredient of success. Simply accept the notion that failures are the stepping stones to your greater self-realization. Looking at art magazines will only show you how imaginative others are, and how well some of them are doing. The time to look at magazines is after a busy day in your workplace. You need to know your inner artist will come to life only when you start. Now is as good a time as any. "Boldness has genius, power and magic. Engage, and the mind grows heated. Begin, and the work will be completed." (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe) 

Read this letter online and give Darryl some further ideas on accessing his long lost inner artist. Live comments are welcome. Direct, illustratable comments can be made at  

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