According to Merriam-Webster deconstruct can mean to destroy or demolish, it can also mean to exam or take apart. In my case, it means both.
The first time someone realized I had some artistic talent a path was laid in front of me. I’m not even going to try and guess how old I was, but at some point, someone saw some hidden talent in one of my early art experiments and declared I was an artist, and that’s a title I have carried with me until today.
I went to college for art, commercial art to be exact. I don’t regret that for a minute, I loved college art. I just should have stopped there.
As I grew older and my art improved the pressure to achieve more also grew. When people see you have a talent or strong skill set they assume you should be using that talent, gracing the world with your gift. And you believe that. You hear that and you think they are right, I need to be using my gift, my talent. Some people do, and they love it, and they love the path they are on.
After college, I struggled with art, and that struggle grew with age. For over thirty years I have struggled with this. I invested so much time, energy, and finances into finding my artistic voice. I often blamed the lack of focus and inspiration on the materials, the lack of inspiring views, and the distractions that come with owning an old house. The blame was also placed on my insecurities, fear of failure, or the fear of my art not being appreciated.
When I did get around to making art I did make some nice pieces, I also had some failures. But that voice inside me kept yelling “just stop!” and I kept trying to ignore that voice while I continued to struggle. And the books, so many books, and DVDs have been purchased in the pursuit of finding that spark. Lots of my time was also spent on YouTube looking for tips and direction. But none of that worked and I continued to wonder why I wasn’t able to follow this path.
With every good piece, friends were quick to acknowledge my efforts and cheer me on. And I appreciated every kind word I heard! I would also hear that this talent I had was a gift and how happy they were I was sharing this with them and the world. All of this was well-intended and heartfelt, and again, I appreciated every bit of it. But all those kind words further cemented this idea that this was what I was meant to do, this was my path.
During all those years of searching for my artistic voice, I struggled with anxiety, and most recently a struggle with severe depression. I always thought art was my healing moment, it was what grounded me, yet I rarely made time for it. I always thought the things I made a priority before art were distractions, yet those were my healing moments. I would find myself pulling weeds or staking the tomatoes on the really hot and humid days. During the times I would block off to make art I would end up cleaning the house or organizing the garage. Those were the things that made me feel grounded. And the anxiety grew more and more as I tried to force myself back onto this artistic path, this destiny of mine.
This past weekend I realized all these distractions I kept battling against, all these things that I made time for weren’t really distractions at all. They were the things that mattered to me, they made me complete. For the first time in my life I said out loud I did not want to be an artist. It felt great, I could feel a weight slipping off my shoulders, but I also felt as though I was betraying my path, who I was supposed to be. But in reality I was admitting to myself what I’ve been feeling for years, I do not want this for myself.
So that brings us back to the deconstruct. I’m planning to deconstruct my studio at home, take down most of my framed art, take apart my giant work island, sort and put away my art supplies, I’ll probably donate some of them too. I’m also going to deconstruct myself, pick apart the pieces that don’t fit and clear space for what really should be there.
Creativity can take many forms, I’m not sure where mine will take me, but I do know I am going to give myself the freedom and space to explore whatever paths I find. I’m not committing to never draw or paint again. Chances are pretty good I’ll grab a pencil or some paints and make something at some point in the future. But I’ll do it out of a true desire and not because I feel I should or because I think it’s expected of me.
As for this blog, I’m not going anywhere. I’ll still post my thoughts and rambles, and any creative things I happen to find myself enjoying. I’m a creative person, it’s how I’m wired. I’ll always need creative outlets, but from for now on, I’ll be exploring them without the pressure I’ve always felt to make art.
Thanks for sticking through another long post…take care…Erik