Art and Anxiety

# of emails sent hinting for a show – 1 (Mission Gallery, Swansea)

# of acceptance letters received – none (please let it be be because I haven’t checked my mailbox all week)

# of likes received from bloggers for my posts – 2 yippee!

Yesterday I had my first migraine. My husband Len gets them regularly and we have often laughed that he can’t understand my PMS and I can’t understand his migraines, so we’re even. Well now I get it and I’ll take the PMS. I have never had a headache that made me physically sick and this one did.

We were having a visit with an old friend (the fabulously talented musician Ben Brown), and I could feel it building before he left. As it happened part of our conversation was the difficulties of staying physically and mentally healthy while being artists. Since finishing my MFA, I have spent hours sitting at a computer putting together applications for residencies and competitions. Each application has its own requirements, that entails hours of tweaking photographs, titles, artist statements, CVs and proposals. This work is no different than having an office job, except that there are more distractions at home and the work is unlikely to gain any reward or even a pay cheque. Out of 100’s of applications maybe one or two will be successful; but when they are, it’s worth it. Of course, this lack of physical activity takes its toll on the body and the lack of positive feedback takes its toll on the mind.

I think there is a lot of stress and anxiety involved in being an artist. Part of this anxiety is a kind of guilt at relying so heavily on others while trying to fulfill a dreamers ambition. There is also the lack of positive reinforcement that can come from a regular job with rewards both monetary and verbal. We are seen by some as impractical, by others as reckless, and by many as lazy. I know that for myself, I carry these labels with me in every decision I make, and worry over whether I am embodying these stereotypes. At the same time, I believe in this dream and that it is only by struggling through this that I will have earned the right to be an artist and a creator of culture. Having said that, I now must find a way to keep myself physically and mentally alert and hopefully not become a migraine sufferer.

Ben’s solution was yoga, my solution is yet to be determined.

Does anyone have ways that they both de-stress and keep physically fit, when time is limited?



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