Sunday, October 13, 2013

Proof of Concept

The night before last, I completed my live exhibition. That's why I've gone up a notch.

The strange thing is, and the content creators privilege/curse is that it fell far short of what was envisioned.

But if I could succinctly describe my creative process it would be thusly: stripping back my vision into something that can actually be done.

I did something, it was maybe 30% of what I envisioned. It was still my most ambitious undertaking ever.

Here's the thing. I've never experienced fear before. Not just anxiety, but fear. A grounded fear of the unknown. It wasn't just ambitious, in terms of quantity of work produced divided by the time I had to produce it. It was the farthest I've ever strayed from my comfort zone.

Let me tell you about the discomfort. Let me tell you about the fear.

I heard the biggest obstacles to learning are emotional. This was totally the case. This year, my gut has been in fine form. My brain and mouth hasn't. When something feels wrong, I felt it in my gut. When I feel it in my gut, it generally goes wrong. Each time that's happened I've said nothing, so I don't know if it's a useless sense of foreboding, but it is at the very least a correct sense of foreboding.

I never had that with this project, or at least, the project overall. That's how I got as far as I did. That is to say, to do it. What I had the entire 8 months prepping for it was this gradually increasing current of fear. I think, and I bring it up that this is half of what procrastination consists of. And with this sort of shit, I think you need to be kind to yourself and realise that procrastination is part of the process too, as in procrastination is something I at least, find I have to get done. Sure it can be disrupted, but I actually feel like I'm being interrupted when somebody urges me to stop procrastinating.

The current of fear passing is the certain knowledge that you have to do something that you don't want to do. I can't explain it any better than that. For me, that was practice. The single hardest part of it, what is totally foreign to me, is knowing what I want to draw and instead of just working it out in pencil on the page having to do it again and again. After it was all worked out on a page.

The other half of procrastination is what I have discovered is called 'self-efficacy' perhaps better understood as creative confidence. So how it works in my case, is I sit down to practice, being afraid of how hard it is going to be, then I find it easier than I expected, and I don't practice as much as I thought I had to. And it's break time again.

What I've discovered, is that I approach art no different from how I've approached school. If my other exhibitions were assignments though, this was an exam, an exam for the rare subject where I wasn't confident I could bullshit my way through.

Because the thing was, that the practice could never be 'done' all it could do was build my confidence, but simultaneously by focusing my attention on what I was undertaking, it stressed me out.

But that stress was omnipresent. It worked it's way into my muscular skeletal system. It effected my immune system. It effected my sleep. One thought kept entering my head again and again 'so this is stress.' I've never honestly experienced it, in my life. Not for anything I wanted to achieve. Not even when I did that play that I neither really directed or produced. This was my mental everest.

When I studied business, which is why I'm an artist, this guy from Axa which I'm not even sure exists anymore said that if you aren't stressed, you aren't making the right decisions.

The thing was, for all the stress, for all the fear, for all the procrastination, I never felt in my gut that this was bad.

Now. Now I'm just tired, and relieved, though the stress comes back a bit thinking about how stressed I was. But mostly just tired.

The best kind of tired. If you can maintain a good amount of tension for 8 months and release it, it's a high like no other. And an exhaustion better than death.

I love you all.