Something is missing. Have you ever felt that way? I feel that way more than I care to admit. I find myself bored with my art and the passion slipping away. I am searching. I said to an artist friend, "what am I doing wrong?" She had no answer. I thought perhaps I am losing my mind. This feeling is frustrating to the creative soul. How do you keep creating with this feeling gnawing at you? That is just one of many questions. I don't know. But what I do know is I must do something to move myself forward.
As an artist I am inspired by many things. Sometimes, the least expected thing. Sometimes, the best thing you can do as a creative person is to look at others, other creators, not artists like myself necessarily. So I returned to one of my favorite authors, Elizabeth Gilbert. Another artist friend is reading her book, Big Magic, and spoke about how in this book she talks about overcoming the fear in creating. So that night, I went to the book store, found the book and cuddled up in bed with it. I've never felt a fear of creating but I am questioning the very reason why I create. Perhaps, this kindred spirit will have an answer. The next day, absorbing the first few chapters, I did something different. I watched a few episodes of the Chef's Table. I'm not a chef but years ago I found creativity through cooking. At that moment, a different world related to food opened and I have never looked at cooking in the same way again. Each episode I watched touched me in a different way. What I noticed was a commonality. These great chefs are continually questioning how they can do it differently, they continue to push the creative limits of food and what the elements of food can do, to the point that they have the courage to throw out the successful menu and try something new. Then watching one episode the chef asked the question, "what am I doing wrong?" and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up in excitement and I thought Yes! I am not alone! I am not the only artist who asks this question.
Now art is not like food. No longer are their patrons who support aspiring artists. The world has changed. The patrons of today support aspiring chefs. Our opportunities may be different, but our creativity is rooted in the same depths. We ask ourselves some of the same questions. And when we stop asking, we become stagnant. I haven't become entirely stagnant. I have taught myself some new techniques and honored my curiosities about fiber materials. But I have stopped questioning and pushing myself in my art as I did in the past.
A chef needs a person to come taste their food. An artist needs a person to visually be touched by their work. We are both telling a story, trying to captivate our audience and leave an impression. Food is consumed and the pleasure becomes a memory. Art is a thing that sits or hangs for long term pleasure. Both are important. But they are totally different when developing a business. I think the chef has it easier. To taste the food a chef creates, someone has to buy it. But art is essentially free to enjoy. Artists hang in galleries or put their creations on display at an art fair hoping the customer will be touched deeply enough to purchase the piece to enjoy it forever. It is the difference between what we need and what we want. We both need to make a living. But people need to eat. They don't need art to survive. Therein lines the dilemma for the artist. How to create a life that is sustainable through their creative skills/talents.
So there is no answer to the question yet. I am still searching. I am still creating. Jennifer Nichols, Mixed Media Artist
I'm Jennifer Nichols, a mixed media artist from North Carolina. I enjoy capturing the essence of nature through a variety of materials. I incorporate found objects such as strainers and bottle caps into my work. I am drawn to these items but it is also important to me to do my part to protect our environment by keeping things out of the land fill.