Even for artists who know what their vision is and how to express it in their art, these can be trying times. In the old days you would take a picture, make a work of art and would only get a handful of comments. These days, you can get a hundred, if you choose to share your work on social media. Those comments might have an effect on your work, because what if you made something that the majority of people who commented did not like? This could easily lead to making adaptations so that more people will like it. You could also take this as a sign that you are indeed making something unique and that it is perfectly fine if the majority of people did not understand it.
The other hazard of these times is that we artists are easily visually stimulated and we thrive on visual stimulation, but there is such a thing as overload. If you see hundreds of photos per day, your senses will become overstimulated and this will lead to chaos in your head. That alone could be the cause of you losing your connection to your own style, but if you keep stuffing images into your mind, your work might simply go into the direction of what it sees most often, as the mind is very fond of doing stuff that it recognises and considers safe.
Creating from your own unique vision requires courage and determination, it is also fun and exhilarating. As soon as you work from your own vision, you find such abundance in your own source. You realise that you don't need to see the work of others, you don't need to see examples, your source is overflowing. I can assure you that it is....Even if you think it is not, because you feel cut off from inspiration, your source is still full, you just have trouble reaching it.
These are the 5 things I do to make sure I don't stray from my vision
1. I make inspiration a priority. It IS a priority if you are an artist. If you keep working and working and working without taking time to rest and play, you will eventually be cut off from inspiration and feel like there is nothing left for you. Have a list ready of things that usually help you feel inspired and do these things on a regular base. I had to make a list, because I love making lists and I was one of those people who worked 80 hour weeks and then burnt out completely. On my list are things like: Go to an art museum, take a walk in a forest, go somewhere where I have not been before, create in my art journal, read a book (and for me it needs to be a paper book), read blog posts of my favourite artists, read artist biographies etc.
2. I choose whose advice I wish to listen to. I wrote about this in my last blog post. I have learned to accept that not everyone will like what I do and some people will never understand. In the past the opinions of others would make me go around in circles, which cost me an incredible amount of energy and it would not get me anywhere. My path is mine, it leads somewhere and I can not make u-turns every time someone does not like what I am doing. I understand that they have another unique way of seeing things and that for that reason they have no view on my path
3. I always review my own work...I make prints of them, I stick them into my visual journal as I call it and I compare them against the key elements that my vision consists of. I do this all the time, because I want to make sure I am following my own direction. I jot down notes besides the photos to clarify what is working and what is not. This never means that my vision is stagnant, my vision is a path, it is not a destination that I arrived at and never leave. I change and so does my vision, even though most of it has been the same for over 40 years or so as I can trace back the crumbles of it right back to my childhood. I have a list of all the key elements that I consider to be essential ingredients to my vision and I always have it next to my journal so I can make sure I stay on track.
4. I follow my curiosity. Curiosity is a sign post on my path, I follow this, because there must be a reason why something intrigues me. If it intrigues me, it connects to something inside of me and so I trust curiosity for lighting the way for my creativity. I love those little "what if" thoughts that pop up in my mind out of nowhere saying : "I wonder what would happen if I changed this or that? I wonder what would happen if I tried this?" Sometimes curiosity has to scream a bit louder to get me to hear its call, but I listen. Sometimes, I have to be honest, I say to inspiration and curiosity to take a nap, because I am tired and can't have them talking to me all night. They tend to do that....they always like to come out to play when I want to sleep.
5. I shield myself off from becoming overly exposed to other people's work. I know that my mind will get into "chaos mode" when I see too many things in too little time. My brain does not cope with this very well and certainly has trouble staying focussed if I see too many things from others. What I'd rather do is look at work from artists whom I admire (and most of them are not in my own niche) and look in detail. Many have worked hours to create these wonderful pieces of art, so I spend more time looking at less pictures, but the kind of pictures that leave me in awe. I love to be blown away by someone's art. So, how do I do this? I don't scroll through my Instagram feed for hours to see if something interesting shows up. I go straight to the profiles of the artists that I love to follow and look at their latest work. I don't spend much time at all looking at pictures from photographers in my own niche, because their work is most likely to influence my vision and this is something I absolutely don't want to happen. This is something that I have had to learn, because looking at "the competition" is one of the best ways of starting to behave and create like them, even if you really want to work from your own unique vision. It is also one of the best ways to quickly loose confidence. So I protect my vision to stay on track and to follow my calling instead of treading in someone else's footsteps
In my new class Your Vision, Your Story I will help you discover your vision, gently nudge you to connect the dots that make up your personal way of looking at this world, ask the right questions that will help you find the key elements of your vision, give you tangible "tools" to translate this vision into pictures that will reflect your unique vision and help you leave your comfort zone by inspiring you to see in new ways and create from your inner source.