Sunday, 29 September 2013

Weekly Report: Week Commencing 23rd September

This has been a particularly bad week. I have spent more than three whole days in bed this week. I have started to recognise the signs of tipping over from tiredness and a bit of anxiety in to depression. I have had several episodes of severe depression previously so at least I recognise it before it becomes too debilitating and dangerous. I started back on medication this week but I need to be careful and be kind to myself.

From previous cognitive behavioural therapy I know that one way to change the depression is to change my behaviour so on Friday, I decided that when I dropped my son at his piano lesson, instead of driving home and back I would hang around the town and draw. Unfortunately there were a lot of people about as they were making the town ready for a Festa so I drove round in a circle twice looking for a quiet spot then drove home feeling frustrated and defeated. When I'm suffering from depression very small tasks can seem insurmountable. I also find it very difficult to leave the house. I don't feel presentable to the world. This means that making myself conspicuous by drawing in public at the moment is a step too far. I started to feel hopeless and think about the fact that I never show my work to anyone but my tutor anyway so it doesn't communicate except with me. That being so why am I doing this anyway? Why put myself through it?

Fortunately I realise that the above is the depression speaking and to listen to myself under the current circumstances would be destructive. I also know that before I started to feel depressed I was enjoying the course so it would be much better to hang on by my fingernails and to quote Dory from 'Finding Nemo' - "Just keep swimming!" until the greyness and dullness pass and the flavour of life comes back.

I downloaded a couple of books onto my kindle:

"Art and Fear - Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking" by David Bayles and Ted Orland


"The War of Art" by Steven Pressfield

Neither of these were particularly challenging to read. I read both of them over the course of an evening and neither of them is about to change my life. However I did pick up a couple of pieces of information:
(1)The realisation that even great artists have a gap between their ideas of what they can achieve and what they actually produce.

(2) The imperfections in work are what produce the stimulus to continue working and point the way towards the next piece

(3) I need to stop taking myself so seriously as I'm only a beginner. I need to make mistakes and lots of them. 

I was surprised and dismayed at the proportion of artists who stop making work once they cease to study.

However, none of this helps me with the problem at hand - the embarrassment and shame of working in public and showing my work. If I am to progress I need to get through this and my fragile ego needs to learn to accept constructive criticism.

A breakthrough has come in the form of the OCA Sketchbooks group on Facebook. A group of students who regularly post work online for each other to see. I posted a question online about overcoming anxiety when working in public and got loads of response. It seems this is a common problem. There were lots of helpful suggestions. It is good to be in contact with others who are distance learning because this can be quite an isolating experience.

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