Persistence is an important principle in art and one of the ones I’ve valued from even before I started practicing yoga. It seems obvious, you just keep going.
People tell you your art is good, you keep going
People tell you your art is not as good as you thought it was, you keep going
People tell you to keep at it, you keep going
People tell you “don’t bother trying to sell when you’re 20, wait 30 years” (an “artist” actually told me that) you keep going
People buy your art, you keep going
People don’t buy your art, you keep going
People tell you “you can’t just paint”, you keep painting
Good days, bad days, sad days, busy days, lazy days, just show up and work at it. I haven’t been trying to build up my art career for very long, only seriously for a couple of years but I have had more than my fair share of setbacks. Strange mixtures of encouragement, rejection, discouragement, closed doors and complete bewildering silences. I have persisted despite being depressed and every setback being a little knife in my poor sensitive artist’s heart. But on days like today when the path seems a bit too much like an uphill struggle (or a sheer cliff face) I need to attach a lightness to my persistence. So it’s gentle persistence, not drudgery. A river carving its way through stone, that kind of thing. (I apologise for the mixed metaphors, I am not a writer)
I need persistence, yoga-style.
I have recently committed to practicing handstand everyday. This is a slow process that I realise will mainly consist of a few hops to nowhere for I don’t know how long… weeks, months? I have never done a handstand in my life before, never got anywhere close. I do not expect to be able to first time, second time or twentieth time I try. I persist. I realise the journey is long but it some ways that is the reward, the persisting. You just do it to do it and who cares about “getting there”?
I can paint, and persist. I do what I do for me and I carry on and deal with whatever blows other people decide to throw at me. There’s nothing like a spot of depression (or 5 years, whatever) to instill a steely calmness.
So keep at it, keep going and let go of attachment to the results.