As an artist the conversation you have in your head is incredibly important for your growth. I am as guilty of insecure thoughts as the next person, analyzing at times: Is this work any good? Is it something that others will appreciate? This conversation is completely counterintuitive to the growth process. Creating art is primarily a solitary practice. That being said, how you manage your internal dialogue can go a long way to ensuring your success, in terms of being connected to your work and feeling fulfilled with the work itself.
What others will appreciate is thought to be helpful in the sale of work. However, I have always felt that if you are true to your internal message, others will feel that and appreciate it. If in someway there is a sense of dishonesty to your true self, people will pick up on that as well. So take this conversation out of your head — at least for me, this seems to be when I have the most growth in my work.
Trusting my internal message, even though others may say otherwise (art dealers, family members, etc.), is when I really feel the most alive in the studio. Ultimately it seems that is when the work resonates with the public anyway.
Managing your thoughts is a spiritual practice in and out of the studio. Mindfulness, which is described as a state of active, open attention on the present, is a wonderful way to do this. Some great authors on this subject are Jack Kornfield and Thích Nhất Hạnh. Once your thoughts are managed, the creative flow comes more easily. I have started mediating each day before I work and am really finding it to be helpful in and out of the studio. I had thought that while working I was in a sense meditating but have realized that is not the case. Try it — you will be surprised at how well it works and also how it affects your everyday life. You can sign up for free with Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra for a 21-day meditation that starts Monday, April 14.
Being present gives you the opportunity to witness the nuances of change in your work and follow those tiny nudges that can change your work entirely. If you are not actually present in the studio and worried about the future or regretting the past, then you have little chance of making authentic work.
So trust your inner voice and engage in work that truly feels honest for you while practicing mindfulness. Give meditation a try!