The Importance of Letting Go of Your Creations
As creatives, we can grow very attached to our creations, and get upset when anyone leaves a bad comment about them. Yes, this can hurt. But it is necessary, especially in the age of social media, to grow a thicker skin.
I have always been a very fast painter. In life drawing class I would always be the first one finished (and I like to think I did not compromise in my quality for my speed). I was always churning out artworks. And still make art at a very fast rate. Because of this, I never grow too attached to any one painting. I am always moving onto the next one, and the next.
If I spend an exceptionally long time on a painting, I will put it somewhere I can look at it and consider it for a few days. After that I will get tired of it and move onto the next thing.
I know not all creatives work this fast. And if you have spent weeks or months, or even years on a project then it can be daunting for someone to come along and spit on it. I spent five years in art school painting surreal art. I have moved on from this style. Because no one liked it.
I still enjoy adding the weird and wacky into my art on occasion. But I am not really that good at it. The same applies to figure drawing. I was never fantastic at it. Not enough that I could sell my art.
However, when it comes to landscapes, that is a different matter. I love making my little encaustic wax landscapes. And people love to buy them. I am also quite good at abstracts. And abstract landscapes go down well too.
I still love to paint figures and create characters like I did when I was young. But it is not something which I seem to get any better at, despite studying life drawing at art school. Perhaps I am just not that interested in people. I prefer the solitude of a moody seascape. And this comes through in my art.
Attachment to things
I recently had a massive clear out of all my old art which was cluttering up my room. There were finished paintings and whole sketchbooks which all went to the dump because they had been sitting around gathering dust and mould. I should feel bad about this, but I don’t. I still have photos of most of them on my computer. Though these may not last forever, they act as a record of a past phase in my art which is gone. And that’s all I need. I almost never look at them.
But if my house were to burn down tomorrow, I could start again. I have often been told that it is unnatural to feel so unattached to things. “Don’t you have a favourite book or DVD, a special pencil or ornament?” No. I just don’t feel that ‘things’ are that important.
That doesn’t stop me from enjoying the books and DVDs I do own. Or the art supplies I have in ever growing quantities. I am actually quite a hoarder. Until it comes time for a clear out. Then I have no compunction in throwing everything away. My room is lined with bookshelves floor to ceiling, yet I still had to donate many books I had gathered from charity shops but knew I would never read. One day I will own a house with a dedicated library room which will contain all the best copies of these books I never got around to reading. Just because.
And all the original artworks which are one-of-a-kind, and are not even all listed for sale on my website there are so many of them? What about them? I would start again. I would repaint them or paint new ones. I have no attachment to them.
I suppose it has taken me a long time to get to this place with my art. When I first started art school, I was very much of the opinion that all artworks were irreplaceable and what would ever happen if they got destroyed!
I believe I got this from my parents, who would keep all my childhood artworks in a special place. But our house is not a place where papers can be stored without attracting mould, so most of them no longer exist either.
At art school I learned to trust in the ‘process’ of making art and care less about the finished result. I learned the value of experimentation and trial and error. Now I love to experiment with just about everything I make. Most of my artworks are experiments in some form or other. Which is why I no longer feel any attachment to them. The joy I found in them was in the making. The final artwork may be nice to look at, but, for me, it was the process which mattered most.
I am actually quite surprised when people buy my artwork because I almost feel they are not good enough. They are ‘just experiments.’ Just me messing about with wax and something cool turned up. I do usually have some sort of goal in mind when I am painting. But a lot of the time the medium surprises me. They are happy accidents which I run with. I am in the flow when I paint. When I am finished the flow stops. The flow is the continual creative process.
There is no point in growing attached to the end result when it is the flow which matters.