Learning about Love in the Studio
This summer, I completed a bible study of 1 Corinthians 13 titled, “Bible Study for Busy Mamas, Thirty Days in 1 Corinthians 13,” by Pam Foster, that centered around defining demonstrating love in life. Most of us are familiar with this well-known scriptural passage popular in wedding ceremonies. You know the one that begins “Love is patient. Love is kind.” My NKJV Bible translation has a slightly different version of verse 4, “Love is long-suffering. Love is kind.”
Long-suffering? I wondered . . . What does that mean? What does it look like to DO long-suffering?
In the Blue Letter Bible app, long-suffering is defined as being of a long spirit, not to lose heart. To persevere patiently and bravely in enduring misfortunes and troubles. Slow to anger. Slow to punish.
Okay, I’ll go for it. So, I meditated on the question: Where do I need to not lose heart, to persevere patiently and bravely endure troubles? I was expecting the usual thought of practicing patience and kindness with my kids, my husband, my friends, etc. However, a surprising thought came to mind instead — I needed to show patience and kindness to myself . . . in the studio.
Ain’t got that lovin’ feeling
I don’t know about you, but I wrestle with bad days in the studio frequently. They hit usually after coming off of a big production time like before a show. As the dust settles, I start having troubles. Just such a time hit me hard after a big art tour in June where I produced 25 paintings in three months! Work was not going well. A week filled with scraped paintings culminated in a fierce attack of my inner bully. (I elaborate more on how to fight back the bully in the article, “How to kill the mental bully and start creating”.)
The unkind self-talk started with small accusations like, “you’ve lost your touch,” and “it’s because you took a vacation that your rhythm is off.” I ignored the insipid thoughts, like we all do, and continued to work, but to no avail. I was stuck in the pit of self-loathing, self-pity and ugly paintings.
After the work I had done in this bible study on love, I knew it was time for me to take a deep breath and change these thoughts around. I needed to purge the lies and remember the truth that each failure is one step closer to the art I’m meant to create. My unique style and perspective is mine and mine alone, and every failure reveals what doesn’t fit in my style. How will I discover what is truly my voice if I don’t take risks and fail? This weeding-out process of techniques that don’t fit and the cleansing of poisonous self-critical thoughts is so essential to the creative process and maintaining peace.
Stop the Madness
Of course, this isn’t easy. The first step is realizing it’s happening. I used to keep pushing harder when frustration hit. Now, I stop and meditate on all of the good around me. I put down the brush and take up pen and paper and begin jotting down everything good that has happened recently in my personal and professional life. I know it sounds cliche, but the act of counting my blessings changes my thought patterns and gives me the boost I need to be patient and kind to myself in the studio. This process of weeding out the lies and affirming the truth can take some time, but it’s worth every minute. Just this simple change in my thought pattern increases my joy and I can start fresh again at the easel.
So, if you find yourself in that maddening creative pit, STOP! Make a list at what you’ve accomplished and hang it up where you can see it every day. Presently, I don’t have a large inventory and it worries me. But, when I read my list of what DID go well these past few months like creating a new website, opening a studio and starting to teach; I can give myself a break and say, “Good job!” instead of “You’re behind!”
Remembering the Mission
Finally, I remember my art career is not about the shows, the profits, or the ego boost from recognition. My passion for my work is about bringing joy to others. That’s my mission. I believe art is the tool I was given by God to complete this assignment. The work is hindered when I focus too much on self, promoting self, and caring what others think. The creative process just seems to flow when I make time to show up in the studio with a patient heart and see what was given to me to do during that special time. Slowly, a rhythm will appear. Good work will come. Then, one day I sit back and see there is a collection before me. A collection created by the collaboration between the creative spirit and me.
What’s your mission? Jot that down and hang it up next to your blessings list as a way to remember why you’re toiling away at the work you love.
Love is patient and kind. Demonstrate this to yourself in the home and in the studio. Take life slower. Be patient with yourself, your art, your progress and other human beings. Just make art, the progress will naturally come. There is no one to catch-up with or out-do. It’s your story, your life, your precious time. Just your art that comes from a special place, unrushed, sacred.