Last week, on a sunny afternoon, I went for a bike ride with my one-year-old daughter. When we made a stop to get ice cream, a follower came up to me and said: ‘Ah, I understand now why we haven’t seen as much new work from you.’ It was true. Over the past 1,5 years, I have slowly backed away from social media. When I started out on Instagram, I loved it. The interaction with people from all over the world, was just so exciting to me. But over the years, Instagram has changed a lot and so have I.
As an artist, we start with passion. We paint, write and sing what comes naturally, what we love. As we do so, we may generate followers, collectors and admirers that expect us to maintain within a specific genre or subject. Understandable, as we people are creatures of habit and do like to see what we somewhat expect. But as a creator, a person that is, as anyone, ever evolving and growing, it is impossible to always stay within the lines we first put out.
You can have it all.
Just not all at once.
I remember a few years ago, when I was painting night and day and enjoyed every minute of it. It was a busy year, in which I accomplished a lot, technically, financially and gained visibility. It was the year after, that something changed. I got worried, because I wanted to maintain this flow of plenty. But what did people want to see? What would they buy? What would they like?
Every idea I had, came hand-in-hand with doubt. The last few years, many a sketch, drawing or painting has ended up in the trash or being sanded down. Of course there are also paintings I am happy with, but I kept comparing the overall flow to this one excellent year.
When I gave birth to our daughter, I felt more determined than ever to keep up the work, produce just as much as before. Being a woman nowadays, society expects you to do it all. Having an ever rising career, keep sharp, always looking our best and of course, be the mother-figure of a household. It is al lot pressure, wouldn’t you agree?
In the beginning of this year, something snapped inside of me. Anything I started, I didn’t want to finish, I got turned down for three different competitions and it was enough. I wrote in my diary: “I am quitting art’. It felt as such a relief. For a few weeks, I kept painting, to test if I hadn’t made a mistake, writing I would quit. And then, I just started doing different things, working in the garden, going for bike-rides with my little one, visiting Florence with my sister. Until, finally, here we are, over a month later and it’s the longest I have ever gone without painting.
It feels great! I’m giving my brain a reset, so that I can let go of not only other people’s expectations, but also the mountain of pressure I have put on myself. My goal is to return to painting freely. To experiment, make mistakes and feeling the joy of the process.
Sometimes it is good to miss something for a while, to cherish what you have.
The same follower also urged me not to stop. ‘With your talent, you leave the world a bit more beautiful’, he said. Which definitely helps me in saying, I know I will return to painting. And it sure is very comforting to completely believe it.