Showing your work as an artist – especially emerging as I am – involves a certain degree of risk. Part of the process of becoming an artist is getting used to show your work, and getting used to receiving feedback, whatever it is going to be, including silence. We would all love to receive only praises and compliments. Like the child that runs to her mother to show the drawing that she just made. She wants to hear her mummy say ‘that’s beautiful darling, do another one’. But hey, not everyone in the audience is your mummy and we have to live in peace with ourselves and our art hearing things like ‘it’s nice’ or ‘it’s different’.
As American painter Franz Kline put it: “The real thing about creating is to have the capacity to be embarrassed.” I recently discovered that saying and I love it. My experience is that being a creative artist resides in my ability to expose myself, vulnerable, with my doubts and anxiety, and to keep to doing it. “Just DO!” as Sol LeWitt brilliantly wrote to his young artist friend Eva Hesse.
Descartes is famous for his saying ‘I think, therefore I am’. With all due respect for the French philosopher, from whose culture I come from, thinking is just not enough to make me who I am. My thoughts go around in circle, in some sterile, repetitive motion, if they are not expressed in some way. I need to say something, or do something with that thought in order to feel that this idea takes form in a material way. Speaking is the primordial way for a human being to express one’s existence; it is a baby’s first cry. Speech is a form of creation. To let the word say what one feels, what one thinks. Making art is another form of creation, through matter, colour, and form. It is a way of saying ‘here I am, this form, this shape, these colours, this is me’. I want to share it with you and hear how it makes you feel.
I’m not all rational, logical, and Cartesian. I am emotional, impulsive, and intuitive; especially when it comes to creating something. First comes out the emotion, the intuition. Second comes out the analytical, rational mind.
Creating is a self-referral process. As the Bhagavad-Gita (IX.8) says ‘Curving back on my own Nature (my Self), I create again and again’. For this creative process to happen, it needs to take on a direction, to flow out and take form. There are constantly three elements interplaying with each other – the creator, the process of creation and the object being created – yet at all time there is an experience of wholeness and oneness.
Julia Cameron has warned us in The Artist’s Way of the danger of showing ones’ work at a too early stage, before one has reached a safe degree of confidence in one’s creation. She says that “creativity flourishes when we have a sense of safety and self-acceptance.” (p42) There are saboteurs of art out there, often blocked artists themselves, who – consciously or unconsciously – will stab you with a sharp line. But once you feel satisfied with the work done, once you feel you have achieved what you wanted to say, then you can expose yourself – in all meaning of the word. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and you can now hear them all. It won’t stop you saying what you wanted to say, because you’ve already spoken. You’ve already created that piece of something that was part of you, itching inside, that you’ve pulled out, and hung on the wall for everyone to see.