Today I’m sharing with you my artist’s manifesto.
We all know that creating brings up perils- the perils of fear, self doubt, inner criticism, second guessing, procrastination and even resignation.
These fears can stop us in our tracks.
Our job is to move beyond the fears and create anyway.
A few years ago, I came across writer’s manifestos and was inspired by the structure and the sermon-like feel of them. I loved the notion of creating a personal manifesto and in particular, an abstract artist’s manifesto imploring oneself to remember the deep underpinnings of what creating art is about.
I encourage you to write your own artist’s manifesto and send it to me. I’ll be compiling a blog post of your artist’s manifestos and featuring them all together on the blog.
Here’s my current artist’s manifesto. You can listen to the audio version by clicking on the arrow > on the left below. The written version is below the audio player.
I’m an artist
I love to create
But the deeper truth is that I love to explore and experiment with mark making and paint
For a long while I looked to others to affirm and validate my art
I found myself trying to replicate the works of modern masters
I wanted to create works that astonished my real and imagined audience
Only to be disappointed by their muted response
So I’m giving up
I’m falling back in love with painting
With the smell of paint, the scratching sounds of mark making and the juiciness of impasto brush strokes
I’m done with the concerns of pleasing others
I’m done with the critics
I’m done with striving
I’m painting for myself
I’m searching and finding my way as I paint.
I’m exploring. I’m experimenting.
I’m expressing me.
Artists everywhere are re-finding themselves in their paintings.
Not in posts, tweets and gallery contracts.
But by showing up and painting.
Every. Single. Day.
This manifesto is my invitation to you to call yourself back to your art, to what you came here to express.
If this resonates with you, read on
A word of warning before we go forward together…
Prepare yourself to be challenged.
To stand for something you may have long relinquished.
To paint for the right reasons.
Artists don’t paint for the sole purpose of getting into galleries.
They don’t paint just to win prizes.
They paint for another reason entirely.
This is the one thing you must learn.
Artists don’t paint for recognition.
They don’t paint for applause, notoriety or kudos.
They paint because they can’t not paint.
They’re obsessed and compelled to create.
To express themselves.
To step into the unknown
and experience the ineffable,
the mystery of who they are.
Artists show up every day to explore and experiment.
They don’t know what they’re going to paint.
They don’t know what’s going to happen
Indeed, they embrace “not knowing”
Because they know that this is where the magic is.
This is where wonder and astonishment resides.
They cultivate an attitude of exploration and experimentation.
They discipline themselves to show up and start.
Whether they feel like it or not.
Undeterred with quotidian concerns of how long it will take to create a painting…
They simply begin.
No matter what.
Whether it’s good, bad or mediocre…
Artists aren’t motivated by whether anyone admires their work or purchases it.
Nor do they lay everything upon the dream of being recognized on the street as an artist.
It’s understandable to desire to be seen, recognized and validated by others.
But ultimately it undermines the freedom, the true expression of the artist.
We must lay these ideas of external validation to rest.
They are disruptive to creation.
You must in the end validate yourself.
The true artist in you just shows up
and does the work.
Whether the work is acknowledged and valued is not what’s important.
Creating your deepest work is your driving force.
Artists do not require inspiration to begin.
They know that the desire to create deeply is essential and enough.
And they know that they’re not alone.
Artists know that there’s an underlying force that guides them.
To create every day whether they feel like it or not.
They must start.
They must show up.
Whether anyone notices or not.
Because the whole point of this is simply…
That artists don’t paint to get gallery representation or to sell paintings.
They paint for the love of painting.
If they didn’t paint
They wouldn’t know what to do.
The great paradox of all of this is that
When you finally let go of creating to please others
When you finally let go of the audience
When you finally create for yourself
The universe holds you up…supports you in your vision
And your work is astonishing
The paradox is
That the less you care about your audience’s response
The more deeply you’ll search and find your way and discover
Your own true expression
And the more your audience will be affected by your work
Because you let go of needing a response from them
Meanwhile, the task is at hand
For you to listen to the beating of your own heart
And create the work
That on your deathbed will make you smile
Because you’ll know that you explored the reaches
Of your imagination.
The sun is shining on this bright morning of Your Artistic life
It’s time now
To imagine the paintings of your dreams
To leave nothing left undone
To explore the territory of your imagination
To move beyond the daily tasks
And reach for something deeper
Something eternal in you
Something beseeching you
To express it
And to do this
Is to show up
Whether you feel like it or not
This isn’t a rehearsal. This is the Show.
Because this moment is all we’ve got.
So start Now.
This day. This moment. This feeling that wants to be expressed.
Today is the day.
The artist in you is waiting.
Give her the go ahead.
Give her a kiss on the forehead.
It’s up to you
To give permission to yourself.
To write your own artist’s manifesto.
And I’ll cheer you on every step of the way.
With gratitude from my studio to yours,
P.S. I encourage you to write your own and send it to me. I’ll be compiling a blog post of your Artist’s Manifestos. Submit yours and see it here on the blog.
Share this manifesto with everyone you think it will encourage.