I'm a kinesthetic person - I tend to think of things in terms of shape and sensation. And so if you asked me what motivates me to paint, I'd tell you it feels like the inspiration comes out of a tube in the middle of my chest. But my chest is also where my emotions seem to sit, and when I'm stressed or sad or angry those negative feelings cause a blockage and everything gets all backed up.
Recently, I sat down to paint and nothing happened. It's not that I lacked ideas. I go through periods where ideas avalanche down on my head faster than I can get 'em onto canvas, and I always write the extras down so I don't forget them; I have literally pages of them. I knew what I wanted to paint and I was sitting there with a blank canvas balanced in my lap and a paintbrush in my hand and I literally couldn't make my arm move.
My first reaction (as usual) was to yell at myself to fucking DO SOMETHING JUST DO IT COME ON. When that didn't work, it occurred to me that I probably had a wad of sticky emotional crud pluggin' up my arthole. So I stopped pressuring myself to execute the specific idea I'd sat down to paint, and instead sat there as calmly and non-judgementally as possible and waited to see what would happen.
And lo, like the cryptic fortune in a Magic 8-Ball, a series of images floated to the surface of my mind. Suddenly, my paintbrush-hand was able to move again; it wanted to paint what I'd seen. To wit:
And now I'm unblocked again, for the time being. But I've also realized that I've been squishing down a lot of fear.
Basically, I've been trying to deal with the reality that my future is very much up to chance. I'd like to believe that if I work hard enough - if my paintings are prolific and amazing and I offer excellent customer service - I'll end up successful, but the bottom line is that I can't make anyone buy stuff. I can only maintain and promote my store as best I can, and the rest is just...luck. This idea doesn't sit well with my inner compulsive planner/control freak, hence the image of a fist clenching so hard that blood drips out.
Just to be clear, I don't for one moment regret quitting my day job to do art full-time. These past few months have been fucking amazing! And that is the problem: I don't want to give up this freedom, but if my savings run out before I'm making a living wage at the art thing, I may have to. And there's nothing I can do about it. And that sucks. And the suckitude built up and up and up until finally I had to paint a woman so filled with viscous black goo that it's forcing itself out of every orifice in her head.
I suspect both paintings are basically a letter from my subconscious:
You are repressing a lot of dark icky thoughts. You need to address them before you self-destruct. SERIOUSLY.
I...don't actually know how to address my feelings of overwhelming...ness. But I guess even acknowledging that I feel them is a start.
Let's all stop thinking about angsty shit and daydream about something nice instead. Like sushi! Or paintings of sushi. Or how quirkily wonderful my paintings of sushi would look on your wall.