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How artists can best overcome difficulties

Date: 20 April 2010
Category: Uncategorized

A stirred unconscious needs managing if it is not to cause trouble or be anti-social. It is tempting to think that a dedicated artist is one who never stops. It is arguable whether they themselves then are a work of art, or something to avoid viewing or listening to!

The axiom that until one truly loves oneself that others will not be drawn to love one’s art applies to “the art” as a whole (art+life). Then maybe the paradox can be sorted? The combined work that is spiritual expansion coupled with a correctly understood therapeutic process is best understood not only as an activation (positive and negative) of unconscious joy, freedom, pain, trauma, ……. but also as an opportunity to gain height and context in making the fruits of the experience ordinary and diplomacy (in the social – not political sense) making.

That height is necessary if one is not to fall prey to the disturbancies that stirring the unconscious can bring in its wake. The balanced psyche that comes from greater conscious awareness is like a balancing wheel that can prevent loss of perspective when life energies can get choppy.

Detachment is very important in any art-form. The distance we can obtain by having a looser more playful relationship with artistic work can help us with being political (in the positive sense) with others, in turn helping with dealing with financial matters and business agreements, and not ending up in heavy situations or emotions that are out of control or explosive.

It is very easy to place the blame for one’s difficulties on society or big business (not to say they are perfect!) and neglect the tending to one’s own conditioning that likely set in in early life. If we can resolve and heal the blinkers and pain we installed at a young age, perhaps our art will be much more appealing to others? If not, then those conditionings could haunt us in our ineffectiveness in dealing with others.

About intensity: artists often do not have an off switch for intensity. They identify with that intensity as a constant way of being. Consequently they become too serious or too difficult to share space with another fruitfully or joyfully, and presence and lightheartedness is lost. This is an anti-social energy that can be their undoing.

Such compulsive intensity is not a friend to oneself, and certainly prevents one from fully looking after one’s state of mind, however exhilirating one might think it is. Intensity, when it is one tool of many in the toolbox is then a more conscious muscle. Effortless expression can then complement it appropriately.

There is a history of adverse associations with art, such as suffering, starving, being misunderstood, being ahead of one’s time. All of these it seems to me leave out a more balanced possibility of the art being an integral part of a fully loved individual’s life. To be truly joyful, there is a transcendence of one’s self, and that is difficult to achieve if one is addicted to suffering or to intensity.

Perhaps the most beautiful human beings (at the soul level as well as physically) are ones who love themselves, mystically even, as much or even more than their creativity.

Anyhow, the point was that artists are often in great difficulties, the following words seem to sum up the factors involved in those difficulties: intensity, unmanaged stirrings, lack of height on or detachment from one’s negative emotional charge, blaming externals for problems, addiction to suffering, lack of direct self-fulfillment and love

9 responses to How artists can best overcome difficulties

  • Howard Roberts says:

    Your words provoke me. I guess I am falling prey to the intensity of my critical mind. I see your point-but have to disagree.
    You separate the whole artist, with the natural urgings and trauma, from a living dead, objective artist, devoid of feelings and unaffected by the problems of the postmodern world. Art is never created in a hermetically-sealed compartment, away from the glorious madness and energy flows of the real. Art, must magnetically reverse the stress of the defects, into positive, symbolic and evolving representations, signs and codas, of intelligence and action.
    Action and intelligence sees and differentiates what is sometimes feral, quirky, disembodied, rude, sanctimonious, ribald, ugly, illegal, grasping and viral.
    This seeing and its creative task should not flee from these states, but use their energy and life-force, to present a total picture of the world.
    Whether these sordid states are the effect of an oppressive social influence or the conditioning of karmic accumulations strengthened in childhood, these states are part of the artist’s life, and they must be dealt with.
    Detachment is very important,for these states, and even more dangerous ones, can eat you alive, if you suppress them or get lost in them.
    But detachment is not a removal from the mandala, which also has its demons.
    Art is effected by social forces and unconscious modes, and the angst that motivates the genius, can sometimes limit purposeful creativity.
    So it is important that the artist walks around in the mandala and observes all of the impulses of the exchanges and the confrontations, as well as the delights and the joyous happenings.
    Then detachment will be proactive-and art will be a way of loving oneself, regardless of mars and shadows.

    This a very interesting topic- I hope others will share their thoughts.

  • ‘Artist’ has become a banal word, barely meaningful. Art therapy, crafts, all fit in one basket. Thinking with melancholy of the apprenticeship involved under the Renaissance. (My practice is visual.)
    I read with deep interest Howard Roberts reply to Lawrence provocative
    To my mind, being over analytical causes even more confusion. I have always enjoyed the candid way of french artist Dubuffet, who kept a recipie journal when making a painting. Something like a cook would use…for personal information.
    we do what we do because it is the skeleton of our life.
    The rest can be hard, obscure, uneventful. Deep breath to keep the flame burning. Could Mozart not write music? And simplicity, a great tool often neglected.
    Shame that the Master’s workshop does not exist any longer. Grinding colors and skills was sobering.
    We are at a strange roundabout in time. I wish I knew how best to proceed. For each of us there is a sign. And if unseen, no matter, as long as there is life in body and soul.
    ‘ i am ‘This’ which breathes creation ‘(sacred egyptian writing)

  • Howard Roberts says:


    The same Master control system was smashed for ever by Mozart, when he refused the dictates of patronage.
    Artists were limited by the whims of the royal stomach, and the glorification of the statist corruption of elites.
    Today the impresarios are the cultural owners who determine the fashionable and sellable art of this generation.
    All forms of esoteric art were eventually bastardized by profit-after the true Masters were replaced by clones.
    Art is now paralyzed by a system that blocks freedom.
    An openness to create and to pass or fail on merit and talent alone and not on connections, must be our goal.
    The grand era you spoke of is dead and buried.
    Let us not mourn the past-but strive for a future, enigmatic and enlightening-which allows all to be artists-and all to appreciate what is created without corporate interference.
    This will lead to an assembly of free masters seeking for ‘this’ which we breathe as creation…..

    • genie-p- lee says:

      This may seem a zen answer but is sincere. Somehow we must contribute to change. Am not sure How? Words are futile.
      I can only walk along with what I love doing best.
      And so might it be.

  • Greetings Howard,
    Thank you for your engagement, it is very valued. Great!
    I don’t feel or identify your anger about the commercial or academic influence on creativity. I used to, but have found it is too big a burden to pretend I could ever shoulder, and in any case, I find it better to see folk not as their roles but as individual universes. Even in roles I formally would have reacted to.

    We can choose to see commerce as predator, or we can choose to see it as mechanism to be used in a positive way. We can also choose to be lighthearted about it, to dance about it with style.
    You do seem addicted to provocation. That addiction for me is a less attractive social quality (social as in sane community).

    I feel also Howard that you are attached to the image of creativity, at least partially as a dredger of angst. Personally I have had enough angst. I would like to train my eyes on the blissful, or even emptiness.

    Artists do need to transcend the doctrinal level, which makes sometimes for an uneasy relationship with esoteric teachings – I understand the need to commune with one’s own stream of impressions, and to do it with commitment, although for me, in 2010, I feel far lighter about this than ever.

    You said: “I guess I am falling prey to the intensity of my critical mind.” I feel you are.

    Intensity is the bugbear to me, there has to be an off switch otherwise one is blocking deeper grace. I am speaking from experience, there is 100 times more joy if one can take less seriously one’s passionate yearnings, creativity is no exception. They are still there for the humourous component.

    By all means be honest and express what is there, but be aware of the capacity to change the direction of the torch – its much more fun not even identifying with being a person at all, to transcend all the intensity, – creative energy does not diminish.

    Art will become artistic or cultural initiative, not mere activity.
    We are all waking up at different speeds. The more compassionate and generous hearted among us will wake up with more grace, but it doesn’t matter.

    There is one art and that is the art of sculpting oneself. The best art will come from the loosened grip.

  • Howard Roberts says:


    I have no problem with the academic or commercial efforts of individuals in the creative field. I have critically analyzed that the effect of commodification is a barrier to creative freedom. I do not see commerce as a predator. I see the results of capital controlled by the few as counter-productive to commerce.
    Commerce-if it is fair and equitable can be a mechanism for good.

    The dance you speak about is a very potent idea to soothe our conscience about who is doing the dancing and who is choosing the music ?
    If all partners in the dance share the cooperative cadences of this dance than it could marshall the music of the spheres ?
    But if we do not have any choice in our dance card or in the tunes we dance to-I’ll sit this one out.

    I don’t at all understand your statement about my being addicted to provocation.
    I was just responding to the ideas in your piece and developing and presenting my views.
    I would hope that these responses would be read with an objective eye.

    We are both on the same page when you talk about training the eyes on beauty, blissfulness and emptiness.

    I don’t love angst-or seek it out.
    I just observe its effect-and try to understand it.

    What else is there but the stream of impressions ?
    Doesn’t it come from the ocean of consciousness ?

    I have no problem with “falling prey to the intensity of my critical mind’-if this mind also is critical of me.

    Ones passionate yearnings can overwhelm the artist less than the ordinary
    person. An artist whose life is rooted in empathy and awareness can enjoy this passion-as a culmination of grace.

    One who digs tunnels between people with desire-forms will be buried in complications and suffering.

    I am more interested in passing the flame of the torch over to another than changing its direction.
    But maybe we mean the same thing.

    Waking up is paramount.
    Especially if we can remember our dreams.

    Sometimes you have to hold the chisel taut to chip away at yourself.
    Fragments that evade the loosened grip.

  • Howard Roberts says:

    More ideas-and more topics !

  • Howard Roberts says:

    More ideas-and more topics !

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