The Creative Life: separating business and pleasure

I've just finished reading a book entitled "Art and Fear" by David Bayles and Ted Orland which explores the reason why so many students give up their art careers after graduating Art school (I was one of those people back in 1993)

Covering a number of issues from fear of yourself to the fear of others, I felt as though the authors were looking directly inside my brain as so much of what they said rang true.

Since launching Art by Flynn a few months ago, I've been working on a number of commissions which I've found deeply rewarding.  It is particularly thrilling when the recipient of the painting has a strong emotional reaction to the work.  

[It helps, of course, that by the very nature of the work I produce, there is always something of the recipient represented in the painting, so a connection is kinda predestined]

However, once I was conscious of this high, the fears started creeping in.  What if the recipient doesn’t have a positive reaction to the work? What if the finished painting doesn’t meet the purchaser’s expectations?

It’s perfectly normal to have these fears, but when they have a negative affect on the work it’s particularly troubling.

I find time and time again that, whenever a piece isn't going well it’s usually because I’ve been tentative and nervous with the application of paint; I’ve had those fears at the back of my mind which has disrupted my usual working process. 

When I reach this point, all I can do is say "what the heck! It can't get any worse!" snatch up a tool and go hell for leather. I’ll suddenly make a bold choice, either painting over a section or removing a section with acetone. Nine times out of ten, the image improves and often I discover something new in the process.

Play Time canvas

Play Time canvas

This is creativity at work! And it’s thrilling!

You could argue that confidence comes with practise and I would agree with you.  To face the fear of failure I need to practise this kind of “what the heck!” creativity.

I believe it comes down to forging a balance between work and play.

When a creative passion becomes a business, it’s easy for us to see our work time as our creative time and we forego the very thing that revitalises us as creatives: creating for the sake of it. 

Play time is not having a plan; it’s not worrying about the outcome; it’s discovering, experimenting and making mistakes that don’t matter.

I’ve made a lot of messes in my play time this week. As I’ve worked on commissions I’ve had several other canvases on rotation, using up excess paint on my palette, applying paint with a new tool, or loosening up with some random doodling. it has helped massively in keeping the creative juices flowing and more importantly, the fear at bay.