If you read Julia Cameron's books on artists and writers, The Artists Way or the book the War of Art by.....Then you will read about the artists block and the many ways artists block and sabotage their own creativity and art projects. It is inherent in the process. "I will never make the deadline I might as well quit", "I shouldn't have put that there and now it is to late", "this is no good, no one will like it", "this is no good, it is the crappiest piece of art I have ever done", "why did I ever think I could do art", "maybe everyone will find out I am really no good and the last award was just a fluke", .......it goes on and on-a thousand negative thoughts that are meant to sabotage your efforts all manufactured by your mind. Then there are the delaying tactics, I need to clean the house(when you know you don't), I need to wash my hair, I need to take go to the store, I need to watch paint dry(I threw that in for the ridiculousness of it) and so on. Then we often enable friends and family members to sabotage us by asking leading questions, "don't you think this work is a piece of crap?", "this is not the best work I have ever done", or when we choose a family member or friend who we know doesn't appreciate our style of work and then ask their opinion, in that way we subtly invite negative remarks to sabotage our own feelings of doubt to re-enforce our own need to block ourselves.
This is a dangerous phase because even the best of artists and the most experienced of creative people will fall pray to its temptations. If you think Leonardo Da Vinci or Michelangelo or Manet or Sargent did not have these devils you would be wrong, all you would need do is to read their biographies and you would find the same struggle all artists have gone through over time. Van Gogh is one of the most dramatic of examples, his mental illness magnified his struggles and doubts. But the point here is it is a step in the artist process as well as any other, and one we must all weather through to get to the other end of success in our work.
Last night my doubts began and my mind filled with negative thoughts about my piece. Much the same as I wrote above...this is a crappy piece of work not worthy of my effort, they are going to think it is ridiculous and look at it and know right away I am a failure, the cows are the wrong color, I should have glued the evil eye charm down I should have tied it, shit I got glue on the plastic now the piece is ruined, the top works, but the bottom belongs to another piece, I am not conveying the theme Home, I started in one direction and ended up in another maybe that is too confusing, I can't enter this and show it hundreds of people, and on and on and on.
Then at some point the doubts quiet down if you stare them down and restore confidence in yourself. Ah, if I put this here or it really does look good, that flows better than I was thinking, the blue cows with added lettering in gold work, I have put in many elements, but it is a conceptual piece and I want people to think, and in the end I realize I must do the work for myself and create for myself..how others perceive it is their own business. Andy Warhol said it best, just do art and let others figure it out, but the art must get done.
I am a Surrealist at heart, it took me half of my art lifetime to understand that, it is an intellectual, conceptual way I work. I put many subconscious triggers throughout ever work, each to be interpreted in a variety of ways by the person viewing them. So I know from the outset my work will be viewed differently by the experiences a person has in their lives when they view my work. For example if I put a snake skin in a work, some people may thing evil or danger or the shedding means getting rid of the old to be born anew, new life or many other meanings. So much depends on our experiences, our education, our culture, our age, our childhoods, and so many other things. The next time you view a piece of art, whether conceptual or not....there is always an intent the artist is trying to convey to you, even when you think they are not, take time with the work, let it seep in to your senses, and then open your mind to all the images and possibilities that come. That is what the artists, the creator would want.
And for the artist who are experiencing the doubting phase I say weather through, it is only one of the steps, but it is necessary to go throughout the tunnel to get to the light.