How To Get Past Your Insecurities To Produce The Artwork You Love

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Marisa D. Aceves. Rockin’ With Grandma: 60’s Aqua Pattern Punchbowl. digital photography http://acevesart.com/

article by Marisa D. Aceves

Whatever our physical or perceived challenges, we often struggle to get past the world’s expectation of us and our abilities.

Despite our past disappointments, we have all sought refuge in our need to make art out of lifes’ experiences.

What do we do though when the latest idea that we have entertained is immediately shot down by friends, family and colleagues?

Do we give up the projects that excite us the most or do we decide to continue and ignore the opposition?

While people can’t get into our heads to fully understand the scope of our artistic vision, here are some ways to help silence the insecurities that many of us face when we encounter resistance:

1) Suspend Judgement 

Go ahead, create your latest artwork series.  Don’t worry about what others will say or have said in the past. When you worry about what others think, you begin creating the type of art you believe others want to see not necessarily the art you want to create. The resentment builds.  Your art production begins to feel like a chore instead of a privilege.

2) Avoid Over-editing

In the beginning of your process, go ahead and let your ideas and thoughts flow. Work freely and without apologies.  You can sensor yourself later. This will help you to both know and trust the way you work.  Over-editing often leads to indecision.  When indecision occurs, walk away.  Take a brief break. Your work will still be there waiting for you.

3) Leave Peoples’ Opinions With Them

Don’t let other peoples’ opinions about an idea or project you want to pursue keep you from following through. Not everyone will like your work.  While this fact can bore a hole in the most sensitive egos, people have a right to their opinion. This also means you have a right to yours. It’s your work. Your art should express your views and unique insight.  If a person gives constructive criticism, it is solely up to you wether to take it or leave it.

4) Resistance May Be A Sign of  Groundbreaking Work 

In some cases, people may resist because the type of work you are creating is unfamiliar or ahead of it’s time.  Keep pushing yourself.  New work is often initially rejected.  However, over time, it is accepted as the norm. Be patient with yourself and others.

While many of us seek unconditional love and encouragement from our peers, we have to learn to be our own cheerleaders. Don’t wait for someone else to approve. If you do, you may be waiting for a long time.

The Key To Finding Inspiration In Unexpected Places

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Marisa D. Aceves. Shredded Paradise. digital photography http://www.acevesart.com/

article by Marisa D. Aceves

 

The closet door is rotten.

Old wood from the roof pollutes the rain water that has been collecting in the pots, pans and storage containers we strategically placed on the porch.

We know the sleeping porch will eventually collapse.

My grandparents house is 114 years old.

Everything in it is falling apart, rusting away and crumbling into oblivion. 

The whole scene might make you cry if you dare to follow us up those leaning cement steps to the front door, yet there is hidden beauty in our pain.

We must prepare the house to be sold as is.

It is the last connection we have to a time when the world seemed less chaotic. 

 Nothing in the house appears to have any value except for its location.

It sits right in the heart of our city’s historical district.

The guidelines require that the front of the house must be preserved, but the inside can be stripped of it’s character and remodeled. 

Do we need this old house?

No.

Do we wish that we could keep it in the family?

Yes.

However, this is not possible.

Some people might say that cleaning an old house isn’t inspiring. 

There’s nothing exciting about it; especially when you know that its the beginning of closure.

Inspiration though is something you you decide to find. 

You have to choose to see what is valuable in each and every situation. 

Recently, I have decided to find inspiration in the hidden treasures that I find as I clean the dust off the antique furniture and floors.

Sometimes messes are potential masterpieces.

The key to finding inspiration in unexpected places is to keep your mind open to the possibilities that surround you. 

No one is going to drop by and tell you, “Yes, this will make a great picture. Take it.” 

Instead, it is a feeling that you get. 

It is almost instinctual.  

There is no formula for knowing what is great subject matter; each artist has to discover that for themselves.

Breaking old patterns and reexamining old patterns can lead to new discoveries.

Look at the things that you do every day. 

Approach them from a different point of view.

For example, in the above picture entitled “Shredded Paradise”, I noticed that there was beauty in the shredded curtains that use to hang in the second bedroom. 

I was sweeping one minute, then snapping this picture the next. 

Today, I challenge you to see what is great in what everyone else considers ordinary. 

You may find that the subject matter for your next photo essay, painting, sculpture, etc. has been sitting right in front of you. 

It has been unappreciated, undiscovered; it is all yours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Our Words and Thoughts Really Can Hurt Us: 10 Strategies For Combating Negativity and The Blues

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Marisa D. Aceves. Glass Bubble Landscape 1. Digital Photography

article by Marisa D. Aceves

Maintaining a positive attitude towards our art and other aspects of our life isn’t always easy.

Past traumas, rejection, career disappointments and failed relationships can temporarily get in the way of happiness.

However, when we constantly find ourselves dwelling on all of the misfortune that we have experienced instead of focusing on our strengths, this practice can not only get in the way of career advancement, it can ruin our emotional, psychological and physical health.

Succumbing to negative thought patterns steals our joy, our energy, and our will to create.

We don’t have to give into negative thoughts, but we often do.

In fact, we are conditioned from birth to think negatively, yet as very small children, the majority of us are essentially positive in our thoughts and actions.

Negative thoughts often lead to negative words about ourselves and others; this vicious cycle continues until we decide we want to change it.

Since the mind has a tendency to keep us thinking about all sorts of things that happen throughout the day, if we remember something negative that happened (something that upset us) this upsetting thought can trigger other upsetting thoughts.

This sets off a chain reaction that seems literally “unstoppable.”

Often worry or insecurities about getting out of our comfort zone in order to reach our goals can paralyze us from taking action in the areas that will ensure our success.

While the mind is trying to protect you and keep you safe, getting out of your comfort zone is essential to your artistic growth.

How do we defend ourselves against our  negative thoughts?

What can we do to set ourselves back on the path to a more positive, healthy outlook?

Here are some suggestions that may help you conquer the current onslaught of negativity:

Carefully Consider Your Present Thinking Patterns - The first step to changing negative thinking patterns is recognition. You have to recognize what types of negative thoughts are influencing your actions. When your are able to identify what types of negative thoughts you tend to entertain and in what areas negative thoughts occur, you can then begin to address the issue. According to Dr. Katharina Star, there are ten types of negative thinking patterns or cognitive distortions that interfere with our ability to think, feel and act in a positive manner. Here is a list with the strategies for combating them:

1) ALL OR NOTHING THINKING – Everything we think about is viewed in extremes of positive or negative. We are either an incredible success or a complete failure.  We are incredibly productive or we get nothing done at all. This way of thinking is extremely inflexible. It keeps us from seeing the step-by-step progress that we are trying to make toward our goals.

Strategy- For each area that causes you to go into black or white thinking, address it with the steps that you are taking to reach that goal each day. You may want to write down the areas that bother you the most. Then take notes of the progress you are making. This is written, visual proof that you are making an effort to move forward.

2) OVERGENERALIZING – When we are feeling down, we make assumptions that situations will always remain the way we once experienced them. We tell ourselves that we’ll never get out of our current situation. This is not necessarily the case, but the words “always” and “never” used negatively limit our view of our lives and potential .

Strategy- Whenever you are tempted to assume or overgeneralize, you should gently remind yourself that the upsetting situation may have been a one time occurrence. One mistake or situation should not determine the outcome of future events. Try to recall pleasant situations in which things did go well to offset thoughts about negative situations, setbacks, or mistakes.

3) MENTALLY FILTERING OUT THE POSITIVE- When we are approaching our lives from a negative point of view we have a tendency to filter out all of the things that are positive in our lives and focus only on the bad or unpleasant things.

Strategy- Count your blessings. Gratefulness helps us to notice what is beautiful and meaningful in our lives.  It helps us to see our gifts and the gifts of others.

4) DISMISSING WHAT IS POSITIVE – When we are discouraged, we have a tendency to ignore what is good in our lives, our achievements and relationships.

Strategy- Remind yourself of all of your successes. Continue to foster healthy, positive relationships by spending quality time with individuals you know love and care about you.

5) JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS – Sometimes we believe misread behaviors in others is due to their dislike of us or their lack of trust in our abilities.  We entertain scenarios of “doom and gloom” believing that every situation that causes us discomfort will end badly.

Strategy- Tell yourself that your fear of peoples’ judgement is often unfounded. You don’t have enough facts that equal proof. Go into each situation focusing only on what is going on in the present.

Stay out of your head and stay engaged.

6) MAGNIFYING AND MINIMIZING PROBLEMS- In this example of distorted thinking, we adopt either a “world is going to end” attitude to every setback we encounter, or we dismiss every opportunity for change that comes along because we believe we don’t deserve it.

Strategy- Discuss your problems and fears with a licensed therapist, a trusted friend or family member. This will help you get a grounded perspective on what you are experiencing.  Reach out to others who can help you see the true nature and amount of attention each emotional episode deserves.

7) EMOTION BASED REASONING- When we are lost in emotion, everything we see and experience  is colored by how we feel.

Strategy- Before allowing the latest bought of anxiety to paralyze you from taking action, you need to remind yourself that emotions lie. Our emotions are lying to us about our abilities and self-worth.  Feelings are not facts, just feelings.  Since emotions are associated with the right brain, engage in an activity which activates the left brain like counting, writing, researching,etc.  This helps to flip the switch on overpowering emotions.

8) WOULD’VE COULD’VE SHOULD’VE STATEMENTS - In the middle of a bad case of the blues, we tend to rehash what we could have, would have or should have done about a disappointing or unpleasant past experience.  This pointless exercise prolongs disappointment .

Strategy- Move on.  Do what you didn’t do yesterday today.  Focusing on changing bad habits that keep you from a more positive outcome.

9) ATTACHING LABELS TO OURSELVES – Low self-esteem and hopelessness contribute to our attributing judgemental labels to ourselves like stupid, worthless, etc.

Strategy- Refrain from labeling. Tell yourself “I know I have to work on this problem, but it doesn’t make me a bad or unworthy person.  There is no one in the world that isn’t touched by something.

10) PLAYING THE BLAME GAME - When we want to avoid dealing with our problems, we resort to self-blame or blaming others.  However, self-blame increases panic and anxiety.  Blaming others for our problems prolongs anger and frustration. It alienates us from our peers.

Strategy – Make plans to address the areas in your life that are frustrating you. Create a chart and write down possible solutions to each problem with small steps that you need to take to reach each goal.

Coping with periods of discouragement can go a long way to improving your creativity. It’s important not to stay discouraged. Eventually, we can conquer the negative thought patterns and words that are holding us back from our best life and creative work.

If There’s No Passion, There’s No Pulse: Why We Need To Take Risks To Create Our Best Art

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Marisa D. Aceves. Corrugated Dune. digital photography

 

If we view our art as a body infused with life-giving ideas and experiences, we instinctively know that when there’s no passion, there’s no pulse. When art is dead, we cry and so do the artists who long to express themselves, but can’t seem to find a reason to speak. Change is threatening.  We know what we are doing; we know what we have done, but how do we make it more meaningful? How do we engage with our art in such a way that it makes others want to engage?

 Sometimes we come to a crossroads where we must make the difficult decision to allow ourselves to experience uncomfortable episodes in our lives so we can truly create great art. Not many of us want to go there. There is where all our insecurities lie. There is full of instability, uncertainty and inevitable disapproval, yet there is where genius lives. 

Inevitably, we must make that difficult choice whether to live or die. Simply breathing and existing is not enough. If we want to make art that has life then we must not be afraid to live our lives. Our lives are our stories. It is from these stories that we can draw inspiration for the artwork that we create. I once read an article by a young writer, Jeff Goins, about living your story. In it he brought up the simple fact that many people avoid living their lives because they are afraid of taking risks. The fear of failure and judgement kill many artists before they begin because they can only focus on all the problems that they will encounter on their journey to success. Instead of allowing themselves to be blindsided by their fear of future events, they need to patiently, and mindfully focus on the prize that individual freedom of expression offers them. They need to complete the journey not give up when obstacles seem insurmountable. Things will not always be the way they are now.  The people that refuse to give up are the people that are holding onto something; they have a vision that they want to see come to fruition . I urge you not to give up, but to continue to see your unique vision through till the end. Find new, exciting reasons to create.  Who knows, maybe we can both inspire and challenge each other to become the artists we were always meant to be.

I guess the question that each and every artist must eventually ask themselves is, “What am I holding onto?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perfectionism: The Problem With Dreaming The Impossible Dream

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Marisa D. Aceves. Red Wrapper. digital photography 

article by Marisa D. Aceves

Many artists can spend a lifetime training, creating, and fighting to produce that one perfect piece of art that the world will remember.

However, there is a difference between working hard to become the best artist that your particular range of talents will allow and aiming to become a perfect artist.

There are some individuals that become so obsessed with perfection that they forget to enjoy the learning process.

They alienate themselves from their art and the reason why they felt the need to create art in the first place.

Usually, when this situation occurs, procrastination follows as the need to avoid the angst that perfectionism causes overrides all creative endeavors. 

Perfectionism is in effect, dreaming the impossible dream.

Why?

When we aim for it, we are bound to encounter disappointment because the simple truth is that no man or woman is perfect.

If you are not enjoying creating art, why create it.

Getting rid of perfectionist thinking is as much a conscious decision as choosing to be happy. 

The moment we decide to drop perfectionism and choose to approach our life and career from a different perspective, we begin to gain the joy we once lost when we put needless pressure on ourselves.

Be the very best artist that you can be, but don’t fall prey to a perfectionist way of thinking or it will rob you of both the joy you gain from your work and the ability to move forward with your career.

When you find yourself slipping back into faulty perfectionistic thought patterns, gently remind yourself that your work will get better with time, practice, and experience.

A Tale of Two YOUs: Should You Create Art In More Than One Style?

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Artwork by: Marisa D. Aceves. Figurative Landscape 1. enamel on canvas

Article by: Marisa D. Aceves 

It’s true that many artists choose to communicate exclusively in one particular style. 

This common practice is often suggested by many an art professor, gallery owner and online art marketing expert. 

In fact, they are right (well, in a way); your unique style is your brand.

It distinguishes you from other artists competing for the attention of the same established galleries, but what if after years of creating art in your chosen style, you realize that there is something missing?

When your normal burst of creativity seems unfulfilling, should you dare to consider the possibility of another style or medium?

You know instinctively, that you must succeed in marketing one style of work before you proceed, at least that is what the majority of us are led to believe.

An undeniable fear that often creeps up when considering this possibility is the question of wether the art that you are presently creating will suffer as a result of taking that scary but exciting detour.

I believe the answer depends on your answer to a simple question: Are you self-represented or are you gallery represented?

Gallery Representation

If you are gallery represented, the gallery where you signed your exclusive agreement may not want or permit you to sell or even create work in any other style than the one you have been producing. Remember that style together with content/subject matter equal brand.  The gallery uses your brand to sell your work to specific clients.  If the gallery is successful at selling your present brand of work, then they probably won’t share your passion for creating work that is unfamiliar to an established audience. In this case, it becomes a financial issue, as galleries only represent artists whose work they feel they can sell.  Many commercial galleries must make a certain amount of sales to stay open. Your work then is only relevant if it remains “recognizable” and “profitable”.

If you are currently represented by a gallery, I would advise you to check with your gallery to be sure that you understand the terms of your contract.

Self-Representation 

If you represent yourself, you are already becoming aware of the “jack of all trades” juggling act that you face as you have to take on both the advertising and marketing role of a gallery and the creative output of a productive artist. 

 As a self-represented artist, having to market two different styles of work, poses it’s own unique set of challenges.  It means that you have to do twice  the amount of advertising work as well as create significant bodies of work in each style.

Whatever choice that you make, whether you seek gallery representation or you decide to represent yourself, if you plan to create in more than one style, do your research.

So should you take on two markedly different styles?

The Best and Worst Thing You Can Do For Your Creative Business: Why People Pleasing Isn’t Pleasing People

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Marisa D. Aceves. Aquamarine Composition 2. Digital Photography. http://www.acevesart.com/

article by Marisa D. Aceves

 

As artists our greatest hope is that people both value and appreciate our work.

Perhaps our deepest fear is that no one cares about the work we produce; we are painting for an audience of one.

While we many of us work diligently on our marketing campaigns, we begin to entertain that dreaded question that often keeps us up at night:

“Who is my audience?”

It becomes clear that in our search for individuality (a definitive style, subject matter,etc.), in order to be something to someone, we can’t be all things to all people.

Yet sometimes, our need to please everyone sends us in a million different directions as we desperately try to corner every conceivable market. 

Many years ago, I had a friend who placed all of his self-worth on wether or not people liked him. Whenever we met someone new or spent quality time with one of his old friends he literally morphed into the person that he believed that they wanted him to be. He would always let me pick the places were we should go, but he never would make a decision as to where he wanted to go.  I strongly believe that during this period of his life, he felt directionless. Eventually, he grew to resent the fact that he was losing himself to other people’s agendas. As controlling, manipulative people began to enter his life, I saw less and less of the potential writer who was full of wit and more of the suffocated “yes” man that he had agreed to become. 

Trying to please everyone around us is almost always a recipe for disaster.

Inevitably, we lose ourselves and our self respect. 

An incessant need for outside validation can often override our unique vision. 

Defining our work may set us apart in the marketplace, but not every marketplace is right for our work.

We do want to please people, but we don’t want to become a people pleaser in order to get there.

So what is the difference between people pleasing and pleasing people?

PEOPLE PLEASING 

When we fall into people pleasing behaviors, we want everyone to love our art, but not everyone will.  

In order to counter disapproval, rejection, lack of interest in others etc., we try to graft aspects of their likes and interests onto our work or we create work in a myriad of styles without committing to one.

 The end result is that we drown in a self-imposed prison of miscellaneousness. 

We don’t give ourselves the chance to discover who we really are or what we believe. 

When we finally do commit, we commit to things that simply don’t interest us or things that take us away from where out focus needs to be, our art.

We become easy targets for manipulative people who have their own agendas.

When we become attached to them, their reputation follows us as well.

People pleasing doesn’t please customers either.

If prospective customers can’t get a sense of who you are and what your work is about, they won’t trust you or your business enough to develop the kind of connection necessary to result in a future sale.

Basically, people pleasers find they lack vision and focus.  They develop both personal and career resentments as they sense that they are slowly losing themselves as a result of their fear of losing other people.

 

PLEASING PEOPLE

Pleasing people is quite a different approach.  

Eventually, we find our audience when we know who we are and what we like.

We make no apologies for our differences, but use those to fuel our creativity.

We don’t try to speak to everyone, rather we are content to address those who share our interests,  tastes, and beliefs.

Listening to constructive criticism is viewed as an important part of our development, but we don’t necessarily feel that we have to apply all of the suggestions we are given.

Happiness occurs when we make time for others, but we don’t let their schedules run our lives. 

We are able to say “yes” to some opportunities and “no” to others without burning bridges.

We carefully listen to what our customers and supporters find valuable, while correcting those things that slow down our business or keep it from being profitable.

With this knowledge, we can approach future business opportunities not with a people pleasing victim mentality, but with a self-assurance and preparation that helps us to please the people we are meant to address.