ART! And mental health.

I'm not very good at doing art just for the sake of art.  I mean, like, I can do art for the sake of the creation of the art I'm working on, but I have a great deal of difficulty doing art for the sake of the activity, regardless of its product.  This is a topic I cover frequently with my art therapist. Today, we talked about the difference between creating art in order to get 'in the moment,' and creating art without a concrete purpose in mind.

The first one, I can do.  I'm comfortable with it.  I'm comfortable with it even if I ultimately fail to create the product I'm going for.  The trouble is, it's not easy to find specific, concrete reasons to create art.  There are a surprising number of conditions that I need met:  I have to have a specific goal I'm trying to achieve, and there has to be something I'm going to do with it when I'm done -- someone I'm going to show, or somewhere I'm going to post it, or something.

If I don't, that's fine.  Maybe I don't like it at the end.  Maybe it's outside my abilities.  Maybe I decide that the whole project is a waste of time.  But if those two conditions aren't met, I find it nearly impossible to even get started.

the other kind of art we talked about involves both of those conditions being unmet.  Not having a project, not having an audience.  Just trading ink and paper for an emotional state.

That activity makes me really uneasy. It makes me uncomfortable, and the fact that I can't handle that discomfort is probably a pretty big part of the reason I have a therapist.  I should be learning how to cope with that discomfort, because it's the same kind of discomfort that I have to figure out how to cope with when I go in for job interviews, or wait for acceptance/rejection letters, or submit stories to magazines for publication.  It's the discomfort that is the default state of a progressing life, and the fact that I can't deal with it is a huge problem.

...

But this post isn't about how I'm going to start facing that problem, head-on, every other week in art therapy.  This post is about how I'm going to start making art there with the intent to post it online.  Sometimes I'll probably post with an explanation about its significance, sometimes I'll just post the art, without context, and sometimes, when I don't think it's good enough, I won't post it at all.

Sitting with discomfort is productive, but it's also sort of an all-or-nothing activity, and I can do it on my own time, not my time with my therapist.  So I'm going to need to start doing that.  But I also need to find ways to connect my art that has emotional significance with my art that I can actually convince myself to do.