Updated: Jan 14, 2021
Its happened - I sound like my mother! I’m not quite at the stage of ‘you treat this place like a hotel’ but when faced with another pile of muddy shoes littering the hallway or a kitchen stacked with dirty plates I do frequently think to myself, ‘why do I bother?’ This week however, I found myself thinking about my art practice in this way - not through frustration or gritted teeth, but as a result of the annual reflection and planning that many of us routinely do at this time of year.
So why do I do this? Why do I choose to be an artist? It’s not for the money or the glory (if only 😆). It’s not because I am amazing at it - I'm moving along the learning curve but a long creative path stretches ahead of me. So far it’s cost me more than I’ve made - by far. The IT and social media side of things has driven me slightly mad. The inner critic takes chunks out of me most days and when I do have successes such as selling a painting or overcoming a hurdle, there are those close to me who jokingly remind me that mine is not a ‘proper job’ - Bless them!
But this morning, with my head was upside down as I dried my unruly hair (another consequence of lockdown) it came to me why I bother. Drum roll please ……It’s to be inspired! To feel the excitement of learning something new, creating and translating it into my art. I’ve always had this buzz when I’m being creative, and for many years it was followed by frustration when it didn’t work out to my satisfaction. Now I’m beginning to be more patient with this cycle and appreciate that it takes time and practice like any new skill, but that there is fun to be had in the experimentation and learning.
I recall an Oprah programme I watched years ago where she discussed how to find our passion in life - imagine a group of people discussing a subject that was so inspiring to you that you were compelled to interrupt the group and get involved. That’s our passion. One way to define it if we aren’t sure I suppose, but possibly way too embarrassing for us brits to try, although my kids would disagree as I seem to them to be open to a high degree of embarrassment.
After my hair drying revelation I did some YouTube trawling and I found something that really clicked for me - the 5 questions posed by Adam Leipzig: How to know your life purpose in 5 minutes.
I love a get (anything) quick vid but this one offers some interesting points. The 5 questions are:
Who are you?
What do you do?
Who do you do it for?
What do they need or want from you?
How do they change or transform as a result of what you do?
Three of these questions are outward facing and got me to consider others and my impact on them, which I don't think I had done as widely before. Leipzig also talks about the answer to the last question being our 'elevator pitch' and our potential response to the question - what do you do? Personally I’ve found it difficult to-date to tell people that I’m an artist - confidence in what is essentially my second and new career, and what I’ve found to be a conversation killer being two reasons . But now that I have worked through the questions a couple of times I’m nearly there in being clearer about my purpose as an artist and in my response to this question. It's also helped me with my annual plan but ultimately, I think this exercise has helped me give value as well as direction to what I do.
Here’s the video if you want to give it a go:
I’d love to hear how you get on with it or if you have any other similar resources or insights. 🤗