Why is it that when I take a break from the studio (or rather, life forces me away) it is so difficult to get back in and thoroughly working? One would think I would be jumping at the opportunity to get back to work. Actually I am jumping at the opportunity, but then the excitement stops there.
The procrastination sets in- I will decide I need to research more and read more before working again. I will start on something mundane instead of diving into a project I have been really wanting to start, like organizing closets, etc. While reading and researching is definitely important to the artistic process, it still must give way to actual studio work. It can quickly become a comfort zone that is keeping me from getting anything of value accomplished.
I really think that there is a kind of pervasive fear that settles in when I stop working. Fear that my work isn't or will never reach my standards. Fear that my ideas are not being pushed enough. Fear that my work will never show, or I will somehow destroy it in the process. Fear that it won't be liked. And insert a plethora of additional fears here. This is the other side of the proverbial "artist ego". We often love our work because we also hate it. Or have hated it at one point. I have said on many occasions that my relationship with my work is like a semi-dysfunctional relationship with a lover: We fall in love, then break up, get back together and try to fix things, break up again. However many times this happens depends on the piece and the only difference from an real life dysfunctional relationship is the happy ending. Eventually, we resolve our differences and the piece is ready. In the meantime though, I have built a serious emotional history with the work.
This doesn't actually happen with every piece. But most often, the pieces that I have "broken up with" on more occasions, turn out to be my favorites.
I have seen some artists that seem to work evenly from start to finish, calmly problem solving all the way through. I might get there someday. I have already learned (the hard way) not to have a temper tantrum in my studio and throw things. (If you were to look around, you would find a strange number of objects splashed with droplets of black ink). And I have learned to set aside a piece for any number of days when I feel the emotional frustration increasing to the "your going to ruin it stage". So perhaps, I too, will be zen one day.
I'm digressing. And I really don't know what my final point is about the fear, except that it is very real. And, in the beginning, those demons can block out the euphoric memory of finishing a piece I have worked so hard on.
My guess is that every artist has to somehow shove that fear in a corner to get started. Quiet it down, but let it be heard just enough to make sure you stay on your toes while working. I have read from several well-known painters that some of their best work occurs in the mistakes. So, in my mind, the fear actually has a purpose as long as I actually get in the studio.
So, speaking of- that is where I am finally headed today.