Each week, PhilSTAR L!fe addresses a reader's concern about relationships, career, and anything they want to talk about through its advice column: Asking for a Friend.
Dear L!fe friend,
Lately, napapansin ko na lagi na lang akong walang gana mag-paint, even mag digital art. I really love painting, drawing, and digi. In short, I love making art. But now, I don't. Napapasabi na lang ako ng, "Anong nangyari?" "Bakit ganito ako?" Nadidisappoint ako sa sarili ko ngayon kung bakit ganito kasi passion ko 'to eh, sobra ko 'tong minahal, pero ngayon wala na. These past few days, hindi ko na nagagalaw stylus ko and these past few months, I don't paint anymore. I don't have any motivation and all I do is cry about it. Ilang beses kong sinabi sa sarili ko na, "Bukas, gagawin ko," "Try ko sa isang araw," "Mamaya, baka kaya na" then at the end of the day, wala pa rin. Wala akong nagawa.
Gusto ko lang na mabalik yung feeling na meron ako when it comes to doing what I love. Gusto ko lang po ma-motivate ulit. I hope magawa ko na.
Thank you so much.
Dear Demotivated Artist,
I’m a writer and in my creative pursuit, I have experienced writer’s block. As words are my source of bread and butter, I cannot afford to grope for them many times, or worse, lose them all at once. God forbid.
But writer’s block happens. I just stop for a while. Drink a glass of water. Sometimes, my muse is in the taste of water.
I also always remember what I learned in one of Hemingway's books: when writer’s block seeps in, continue writing with “one true sentence.” Say, “I am hungry.” I substantiate that sentence with another true sentence. “I am hungry. My last meal was last night.” Another true sentence ensues: “I am hungry. My last meal was last night. I lost my appetite after BB and CC’s breakup.” Then I begin to roll again, like words have their own lives that they are just leaping out from my fingertips as I type onto the computer. I’m back on track to finish the article. Of course, the first true sentences will be revised as I maneuvered deeply into my essay.
A simple answer is 'restart.' The truly educated never graduates.
I wish the same treatment would apply to painters. But yes, stopping for a while and drinking a glass of water can help. Those activities clear the mind.
To give dignity to your concern, I asked some friends in the art scene to address your being demotivated as an artist. What do they advise a painter who is now demotivated, looking for inspiration to paint again? Here goes.
Edwin Wilwayco, painter
Painting is discovery. Every time you make a mark on canvas, all sorts of possibilities open up and all sorts of problems to which you have to find solutions. When you take a brush to canvas, you never know exactly the result paint is going to make. The tension of always trying to push yourself over the edge, of testing the limits of your imagination, in the hope of creating impressions distinctly your own and quite beyond anything you ever expected when you started out. Therein lies the continual challenge and beauty of the act of painting for me.
That has always been my artist’s statement for long, which I think applies every time I’m inspired on a new series to mount.
But through time, as I grow old and weak, I’ve added the following to what I call reminders:
- Never guess what your audience wants. Your audience (art collectors, art lovers, art students, and peers) don’t know what they want to see until after they see it. Who knew they would want to see and collect a particular series (or pieces) after they’re all gone.
- The choices in your work do not come from you. They arrive from the work itself and have lives of their own. You cannot force these choices. I always experience this feeling every time I paint. I just want to become open, attuned, and be responsive to them.
- The only way to enter the art world is to think differently as much as possible. Work, work, work! Stay up late every night.
- Never worry whether your work is topical or political. Even if you’re painting landscapes, portraits, sewing abstract patterns, you are making your work in the present. The deep content of the present is in what you are making.
- And when demotivation sets in, my secret is simple—I pray.
Rellie Liwag, painter
In one of my art studies in New York, I did ask same question about demotivation to a master artist. The answer was so simple, “Just paint and motivation will come back.”
I will add to this by saying to watch all the available art shows on YouTube, be it shows about other renowned master artists, tutorials, artworks of the masters, to name a few.
Furthermore, join and interact with other artists, be it a sketching session, etc. Another way to court your muse back, granting finances will allow, (is to) travel and visit museums, attend workshops, visit other countries, appreciate the beauty around.
More importantly, prayers for inspiration and a positive attitude, eliminating the toxicities in life—they help settle demotivation.
Jun de Leon, photographer
A simple answer is “restart.”
“The truly educated never graduates.” I like living and learning at the same time. I was successful with my two experiments during the pandemic and one major fail.
Francis Libiran, fashion designer
The antidote to demotivation is inspiration—and inspiration comes easily when you listen and honor your mind and body. Being aware if you need to rest and reignite your spark instead of powering through is crucial to preventing being in a rut of demotivation.
As a creative, there are times that I’d experience momentary artist’s block. Luckily for me, it never happens when I have to design in front of my clients (since my designs are always inspired by them and their stories). It usually happens to me when I am creating a new collection though I guess I know just how to combat it.
What are the techniques for keeping oneself inspired to continue to cultivate his or her artistry? Resting and taking a step back to put things in perspective is one, self-compassion is another. Nothing comes from an empty cup, so making sure your energy is intact and not depleted is very important. I take feelings of demotivation as a reminder to expand my horizons, innovate my aesthetics, and look for more inspirations while honoring my mental health.
Inspiration comes easily when you listen and honor your mind and body
So, there go their tips and suggestions for you, Demotivated Artist. I hope you find nuggets of wisdom from them. And I truly hope you will pick up the brush soon and splay creativity once again on your canvas. Who knows, a solo exhibit of yours might be in the offing.
Please don’t stay demotivated for too long.
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