The Artist’s Aesthetic Urge

Just after Christmas I enjoyed a woodsy walk with art buddy Randall Tipton. I casually mentioned that I hadn’t actually made art in over a month. I had been occupied with preparing for the holidays and for the big WFWS Exhibition coming up in April.

“How do you survive?” he asked. I understand the question. For artists, if we don’t get time to create, we become irritable, itchy and even sullen. Now it’s been even longer since I’ve spent time in the studio. I’ve been gathering inspiration… traveling, enjoying family and friends. My holiday hours were also spent in quasi creative pursuits: decorating the house and the tree, wrapping gifts, creating Christmas cards, writing, planning and cooking delicious meals, and crafting. At the time, these were quick, easy, attractive and even necessary things to keep my aesthetic urge at bay.

But last night I dreamed about creating. I am ready to return to the studio.

If you’re the type of artist that finds themselves constantly filling their time with quasi-creative occupations and you never actually get to the studio, perhaps you need to renew your focus. Creatives are often easily distracted from their main focus by the shiny object of a new medium, supplies, and other short-term projects. This may satisfy the creative itch temporarily, but it won’t bring lasting satisfaction. It dilutes the creative impulse.

The same sort of thing can happen with art collectors.

The Collector’s Aesthetic Urge

Art Collectors have the urge to make their spaces beautiful. That impulse can take many forms. They might rearrange the furniture, hang drapes or window coverings, or hire a decorator to beautify the space. Sometimes I see people hang anything that will fit, just to make a room complete. This often results in a visit to a big box store to purchase a print or decorative item. Once the space is filled, they sort of forget about that urge to fill it with a more meaningful piece. Yet, they are vaguely dissatisfied with their space.

The collector who acknowledges and accepts the importance of the aesthetic urge is much happier. They gradually fill their space by collecting art that is more meaningful, more personal and more original. Collectors often don’t know what they want until they see it. They don’t worry about making the room perfect. Instead, they focus only on their passion for the artwork. A room that is put together this way stands out and feels warm, unique and inviting.

“The art one chooses to collect becomes a self-portrait.”

(Dennis Heckler)

Overcoming Resistance

You see, artists and collectors often face a sort of resistance born out of the fear of making a mistake. If an artist makes a mistake, they lose time and costly materials. If a collector makes a mistake, they lose money and are ‘stuck’ with something that doesn’t fit.

Both situations are easy to remedy. In the case of the artist, we begin again with renewed focus. Mistakes can even help us to better understand what we are pursuing. With the collector, they may want to ask the gallery or artist for a trial period to ensure that the art object ‘works’ in their home or office. There is no logical reason to let resistance or perfectionism hold us back.

I really enjoyed the book Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland. It helped me to focus on the art I want to make, and learn how to get out of my own way. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield is another book that gets to the meat of the matter of overcoming resistance to enhance creativity and aesthetics.

If you find yourself collecting or hoarding art supplies for the ‘perfect’ project, waiting for the ‘perfect’ time to begin, or trying to find the ‘perfect’ painting for that wall, get real. Perfection does not exist on this earth. Find something you love, and give in to the aesthetic urge.

How have you overcome resistance to creating or collecting? Leave me a comment below.

 

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