Lockdown blues

I’ve been living in a world of should, as I’m sure a lot of you are. Torn between feeling like I should be accomplishing so much because of being in lockdown and then just being so completely weary of it all and feeling overwhelmed. Both feelings are valid to me. I do however feel like this is a precious time like no other in my personal history, where I can dig in to the studio and just create.

That comes with some pitfalls of its own, sometimes too much freedom with no structure just makes me get lost in the weeds and produce nothing, or very little. While I am putting myself in my studio almost every day, sometimes my expectations don’t match what comes out. Like just now before writing this, I finally put the base layer of some bee wings on a painting. It’s taken me two weeks! I get in front of the easel, and think about how they should be, do a couple sketches, and walk away. Again and again I do this. This morning however, I mixed colour  and dove in. What changed, why was today the day? Does that mean the other days I stood in front of the painting I failed? I don’t think so. Those other days I just wasn’t  ready. That doesn’t mean I did nothing in the studio. I’ve been pecking away at some sculpture, and pouring resin bits and yes somedays just sitting in my beloved big blue chair in quiet contemplation. It all contributes to the final work. It’s a journey, a process. Yes sometimes I feel like I should work faster, or produce more work. I deal with a lot of different notions in my head regarding that. Some days though its difficult to justify creating work that may sit around the studio for a while before it finds a home. The cost in materials alone is sometimes enough to make me rethink what I have chosen to do with my life. Other days I am so compelled to create that I lose complete track of time. I love those days. They are the most precious.

Still, I wrestle with the idea that I am not creating “enough”. There are so many other things that seem to need to be done. I’m not just referring to the day to day stuff of cleaning, laundry etc, but the things i feel like I need to do to create a sustainable living. Part of the problem, is of course I have no idea or feel like I have no idea what I am doing in that department. In school, at least when I was a fine arts student, there were no business courses. God forbid you even discuss anything so base as money, like artists were to survive on air and paint fumes. I don’t know how they can in good conscience push out students into the world with no idea of how to actually make a living as an artist. But I was young, and had no idea what I was lacking in those skills.  Today, I still have no real concrete notions of what I should be doing to make a sustainable living.  The notion of making a living is still perceived as some sort of low brow idea that means the art suffers. But I rather think the thing that makes art or artists suffer more is the uncertainty of knowing how they will pay rent. 

Back to the pandemic. This time has served one real purpose to a lot of people. It has made them slow down, rethink what they are doing and maybe try something different.  Because we are stuck at home, the urge to create or create more has moved to the forefront. With that though comes all these fears and judgments. Mostly self-inflicted.

Social media, blogging, redoing my website have all been important pursuits at this time. But I will admit I struggle with it. Trying to come up with something interesting and meaningful to say. Not just putting out would you like to buy this, or maybe this, or how about that. That feels obnoxious. Yet somehow a living needs to be made. Instead I try to balance what I am putting out there, showing what I am working on, posting images and videos of finished work in the belief that it will resonate with someone somewhere. The real struggle is not knowing what to say, what to post, time spent in front of my computer that I wish could be spent in my studio. Mostly because I feel in this arena (business), I have no idea what I am doing. So I tend to let it fester, consume me with worry, till I just can’t think about it anymore and I stop. Full on stop. Stop everything, good or bad and feel completely unable to move in any direction, let alone forward. When I get to that point i don’t even know what forward means. My level of overwhelm consumes me. It takes time to get out of that. To even just sketch, let alone create “saleable work” or think about all the “things” I should be doing. Sometimes just reading, or watching youtube becomes the only thing I can do. Unfortunately that makes me feel worse in the ‘you’re not being productive’ sense and can make things inevitably worse.

I need to stop writing now even, because I’m getting overwhelmed and not sure where I was headed with this article anyway. What was my point? Did I even have one, Why am I rambling now? My go to is usually that I will take a break and go chase some shiny object instead of buckling down and finish writing. I am trying not to do that. I have some graphic design work that needs to be done, wouldn’t it be better if I spent time doing that? Or what about posting some work in progress somewhere. I don’t even know what would be the best use of my time. Where are my efforts best spent. How do I decide what to do. Why do I feel like I’m wasting time when Im trying to post stuff. I cannot for the life of me, seem to come up with a meaningful way to automate any of this business stuff. Partly because I simply have no idea what I should actually be doing, what will give me actual results, so I end up with a scattershot approach that  gets me nowhere. Depression sets in, its a viscous cycle.

Part of the problem is feeling pulled in may directions, trying to find and do graphic design, since i cannot seem to make painting cover my living expenses. The anger that generates in me because I really do not want to be doing some of it. all the things I feel compelled to figure out, payment systems, social media, blogging, facebook, instagram, book keeping. My studio has become a wreck, my office the same, I need to clean, start, get overwhelmed, and stop. nothing seems to get my full attention. Nothing seems to get completed, everything is just in various stages of being worked on. Feeling like I have too many things on my plate with no one to help me, in any way. I’ve asked for help, I get told I need to do the vacuuming. I’m so frustrated. I feel like no one is there for me. I am there for them, but no one is there for me, no one is willing to help me out. I don’t even know what they could do for me. I just want someone to show me how to make sales of my work, so I don’t feel so much like I’m just wasting my time, wasting my life. I need a do this do that next kind of structure for it. But have no idea what I am doing and so I either do nothing or spend my day trying to spend ten minutes on this thing ten on that anded doing none of it well, or with any conviction. I lose belief in myself. I get broken down. I just have no idea what will push my work and selling it forward. Im not sure my work is worthwhile anymore. I waste time making stupid little things like necklaces and stuff because they sell, but not enough to pay bills. I sell a print or a necklace and whoopee..20 bucks..

I feel so closed in sometimes. I just don’t even know where to start.