The Lows

This is a low. I haven’t relapsed, it isn’t a depressive low. I am, like I posted yesterday, suffering from a major confidence dip in terms of my painting career. More like a plummet. It’s one of those days I spend in front of my easel where I doubt everything: my subject, my medium, my talent, my drawing abilities, my painting abilities, my ability to convey something to an audience, my ability to produce a painting. All I can see is all the uninterested, hostile faces who’ll pass over it disdainfully. Last year I thought I was producing paintings that no one will ever see, this year I am terrified that people ARE going to see them.

It’s been like wading through mud recently, my painting practice. Have you ever tried to paint while crying? It’s hard. And faintly ridiculous I realise too, how melodramatic!

So back to mindfulness. No believing the thoughts, simply observing them as they come and go. And observing the low days (and months) as they come and go.

Insecurities about my Paintings No. 1

Another day, another post, another one not about introversion.

As I mentioned yesterday, I have been experiencing the most catastrophic comedown from my exhibition high. It has been tempered somewhat by a nice man coming round yesterday and buying a painting and giving me encouraging words but generally I am at a low.

My first exhibition was in April and it went fantastically well. I got an overwhelming amount of praise for my paintings. People didn’t just like them, they loved them! After all the solitary toil and all the doubts I had arrived! Buoyed up by this I signed up for every exhibition I could and ideas flowed thick and fast. I was on a painting success high!

But everything in the material world is impermanent, and feelings even more so. Slowly but surely, my invincibility ebbed away. I was no longer the celebrated young exciting artist, I was a solitary sad figure again, working away at my paintings, head full of doubts. Before my first exhibition the question was “will anyone actually like these?” after it is “will anyone actually like these?” AND “are these as good as my old ones?”.

Ah the problems of success.

I set out in October 2009, in the midst of my depression to do a series of paintings of the streets of my hometown. It’s a pretty enough town but the thing is I live in an island where there are much prettier towns (with castles, thatched cottages, fishermen’s cottages, massive waterwheels etc. I live in a film set) so my town isn’t often celebrated. I thought it was a genius idea and it turns out so does most of the people who’ve seen them. How fantastic to have validation for an idea, especially one born out of depression.

But in October 2009 I knew none of this. I started from nowhere, with no support or encouragement. I just had my idea and the knowledge I wanted to achieve something with my time. I also thought in this first set of paintings would be the solace I would need in the future, the faith that I had the courage in myself so that I can always start over. I started somewhere once, I did those paintings, I could do it again.

Except it doesn’t work like that! Yes I did these paintings and yes they have been popular but now I have expectations and I have pressure. I had none of that 3 years ago. I soon realised that this is it, it doesn’t get any easier. The doubts, the insecurities will keep coming. I always will have something to live up to. Also I will always have to deal with large periods of time alone, in the company of my worst critic and then a couple of times a year intense periods of enforced socialness where I have to talk to many people about all this work I’ve done on my own and I’ve convinced myself no one cares about.

This is the path I’ve chosen. The question is, how will I be able to live with that?