Freeing Yourself


“As an artist, you have to keep freeing yourself” – Charline Von Heyl

I read this quote recently and immediately felt the truth and wisdom in it. It resonated for me on so many levels…mostly because freeing myself is something that has been a life long pursuit – even long before I encountered the self imposed challenges that being an artist can bring about.

However, through the act of art making, I became more fully aware of this need to free myself. It was necessary in order to stay the course, make authentic work and face the fears that bubbled up as I took risks and extended myself to become more visible through blogging and social media. Art has been a tremendous teacher for me. So I continue to work on freeing myself….but what does this really mean?

For me, I have found that the way to free myself has come through being open to seeing myself more clearly. Looking at the aspects of myself that limit me and attending to them. I try, as much as possible, to stay in a place of curiosity and avoid judging myself for not being better, more or different than I am right now. A form of radical self-acceptance is needed.

One of the most remarkable aspects to art making is that, if you’re willing to look deep enough, you can find yourself there. You can see the evidence of who you are. The choices you make and the way you respond to the challenges is the way you are in life.

“We paint who we are” – Jackson Pollock

How this works for me is interesting. I’ve written a couple of blog posts about art and fear…as this is one aspect I’m continually working to free myself from. I’m a work in progress…always will be and that’s just fine with me. Throwing the need for being perfect to the curb….thank goodness!

Another area I’m working on freeing myself from is the perception of time. I have a full and busy life and there are times I don’t make it to the studio often enough. And I struggle with competing needs and what I choose to prioritize. In exploring this (remember the curiosity piece) I realized that I have a way of valuing work that is related to remuneration – sort of a cost vs. benefit kind of thing.

As we know, art making brings us many personal benefits, but often doesn’t fully pay the bills. Many artists do other things to support themselves. This is true for me as well….and life is about balance, all things being valued in a hierarchy of what’s most important to attend to – what need is calling the most.

Often times, sadly, my studio time is preempted by other needs. And although I accept this and know why it is so….I feel the tug of how important it is to devote time to my art in order to develop further in my work. I can get myself in quite a turmoil over it all. Hence the need to free myself from this cycle…it’s not useful or healthy.

If I look at it from the perspective of how this reflects an aspect of myself, I can see that my pattern is to often give to others first, making their needs more important than mine. I feel a heightened sense of responsibility to my commitments and that can lead to negating my own needs – that being the need to make art. Somehow because my art making doesn’t yet provide me with a healthy income, I can’t justify pre-empting something else that supports my livelihood. Whether it be for our design business or for our home, these balancing of needs are always at play.

So I’m working on freeing myself from this pattern and becoming more respectful of my studio time. Freeing myself of the guilt I often feel when I’m spending hours in my creative space while the demands of life wait just outside the door.

Tell me, can you relate? How do you balance the competing needs in your life? I wonder, is it different for women than for men?

Interestingly for me, art making it is my deepest calling. And yet I ‘m not always able to honour it in the way that I would like. Freeing myself from this would be the greatest gift I could give myself.

I’d love to hear any strategies you’ve used to make your art a priority. Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. And here’s to more freedom!