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Pre-exhibition jitters and the blessing of shifting focus


I'm an artist and I have performance anxiety.

(Its been 3 weeks since my last confession...)

As an artist, its often easy to get caught up in the internalisation of art-making. The part of the creative process that's all about me. Some parts of that might be fun, you know, expressing yourself and all that... but most bits are on a scale from slightly - to paralysingly - nerve wracking.

My favourite procrastination contributor is a type of imposter syndrome dread - "What if I can't do it today?" (that thing that I did all the other days which never failed me before...). A quiet insidious panic that I will face the canvas and find I've forgotten every skill that I ever had, which is totally illogical but nonetheless enduring.

There are lots of other good one's too - What if it's not good enough? Do I really have the skills for this? Do I even have a style? Is it consistent enough? Do I really want to put that out there? What if it's not good enough? Am I even happy with my style? (there are so many others I love!!) How do I know when its finished? Have I overworked it now? Is the colour balance right? Does it say what I want to say? Perhaps I should cut my losses, and just paint over it all!!! BECAUSE WHAT IF IT'S NOT GOOD ENOUGH?

And those are just mine!

Well phew! Why do we do it to ourselves?

Thank goodness for my creative coach, Rachel, a sage, levelling voice amongst the anxiety who puts it all in perspective.

"ART IS NOT ALL ABOUT YOU!"

(Rachel doesn't actually shout at me, and she didn't actually use those words - but I might just need to shout it at myself more often)

Because its not all about me.

In the end its about the viewer, the audience, the customer, the buyer, the collector, and finding that painting a forever home where it will light someone up with inspiration and joy every single day.

Rachel shifts the focus for me.

She asks - "What do you want people to get out of it? How do you want them to feel when they leave the exhibition? What do you want them to take away with them? What will they be talking about? What will they remember?"

And now we're talking about something else completely. Something much more comfortable. Because none of my apprehensions live in that outward focus. And because I know what the message is, and I can create an experience around it.

Unmeasured Moments will show at the ME art gallery in St Leonards from mid-November and I'm looking forward to making it an experience for everyone who walks through the door. The collection is about mindfulness, appreciation and the honouring of the time we have, so I'm working on ensuring that every visitor is given the opportunity to use the exhibition space to breathe, slow-down and be present with the artworks.

And that's helping me to breathe too.

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