Compass points

That’s the thing with voyages, there are long periods of time where the wind does not even flicker, the sails are still and the sun seems hotter and more powerful. And then, without warning, everything seems to rise up simultaneously to drag you into emotional chaos. I have written before that I see chronic conditions as a marathon of epic proportions and that it is only the ‘owner’ who is able to complete. It. Carers have finite resources, mentally and physically.

Add that to my recent post about my ingrained need for approval and you get a person who knows that eventually their search for approval of from others is doomed because only they will be able to sustain themselves over the progression of their illness.

How does this manifest? Well in me it explains why family life can be very hard work indeed, why my partner is exhausted and why it is so important i take responsibility for my wellness and guard my independance jealously. It also explains why I tend to validate my status as an artist by entering art competitions without a hope of success and then self sabotage my efforts so as to provide a palatable reason for my failure. The overall result being me, frustrated and guiltily feeling like I haven’t done enough to ‘deserve’ any success anyway.

Which brings me to my recent art related activities. A couple of weeks ago I went along to the Great Broadway Paintoff 2021 and along with 99 other artists I baked in the hot weather trying to produce my own little corner of that quintessential Cotswold village that is Broadway.

Based on the above musings, I decided that I would try to have a winner’s approach. So I planned my materials, my approach and my logistics. I produced what I considered to be an authentic (ie it is recognisable in my ‘style’ such that that is) and accessible picture that would appeal. One of the judges said some nice stuff when she saw it but sadly I didn’t get a prize.

Normally when I fail I can blame my self sabotaging behaviour (“I was so busy before hand I forgot to bring the right paint”) but not this time. I just didn’t make the grade. BUT then I realised something. And its kinda obvious but then most truths are. That’s the point.

To be an artist I have to trust in my decisions and what I produce. Only I can say what should or should not be included. If I am committed to producing work that addresses my core values and experiences in the hope of connecting and communicating with the audience then only I can depict them. Stands to reason.

On that basis then, since completions are really sanctioned approval searches, they should not be my measuring stick of success. They measure something different to what I care about. The winners are those who garner the most approval from the judges. It’s no absolute statement as to my capabilities if I don’t win. It just means that the judges liked somebody else’s better.

To determine and drive my practice I need to find some new measures that fit with my goals. So I need to (a) articulate my goals and then (b) find some way of judging my progress. Simples.

If I rely on performance in competitions as the only way of measuring my progress/success then I’m setting myself up for failure again. And I’m not getting a real measure of what I’m doing. I’m not getting a measure of how much I’m discovering or developing.

What a revelation! Can’t believe it never occurred to me before… Shows you a wonderful world also CBT is kicking in big time Shea Stitch. More on this later. In the meantime, what to do with this newfound wisdom? Easy. Start measuring the important stuff. Now I’ve just got to go and work out what that is…


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