At the outset of this blog I stated …

“I am used to working within a framework … created by budget, or brief, or client, or timescale…. I am comfortable in my art practice where I have a similar framework through collaboration, or circumstance or a project defined by someone else. Now it is time to find the confidence and resilience to develop my own ideas on my own terms.”

I’m meeting my mentor, Rosalind Davis, this week and my resolution did not last very long. I made an initial experiment piece (blog post: Without words). But then I spotted a commission call out for something that could work the ideas and themes I’ve been thinking about. ‘This is good – I thought – I can write a proposal and adapt it for my own purposes later.’

I didn’t expect the proposal to get anywhere, the typical scenario of an open call being 100s of applications and a ‘thanks but no thanks’ deadend to follow. Surprisingly my proposal was shortlisted and I went for an interview.

I didn’t get the job.

Good point – the proposal has merit and is worth developing because they were taking it seriously.

Bad point – it may not have won because the proposal was not directed enough to the clients themselves. Or maybe with anything I did differently it would always have been second best to the unknown winner. Ho hum.

Good points – I have a strong proposal that I can adapt and develop.

Bad point – I’ve immediately falled into the trap of working within a framework that wasn’t really what I wanted to do other than it would have had the seal of approval of achieving something that has external validation.

Good point – Maybe the framework just works for me – and I shouldn’t fight it. Maybe I need to create the framework in order to create my work? Perhaps the framework is not the problem.

I’ve had some calmer moments in the last few weeks, working on mindfulness and meditation. And began thinking long and hard about my motivation – what is creating the block to my progress? I don’t think I feel frightened of experimentation or ‘just doing things’, but I do find making any decisions extremely difficult. What is the outcome of any decision? Will it be the best outcome? Will it achieve validation? Deciding to experiment doesn’t have an obvious ‘achievement outcome’. I am thinking that letting go of trying to achieve might be the key. In my early life, when faced with difficult circumstances, I can see that I used ‘achieving things’ as my coping mechanism.

Achieving something is often a positive and has positive outcomes, and I do want to achieve something through the process of working with a mentor. However – there is always too much of a good thing. The drive to achieve as my coping mechanism puts myself under a lot of constant pressure, it is motivated by external validation and trying to please and impress other people.

Searching constantly for the next opportunity to achieve can be a distraction and is an activity that sees me running away from staying focussed on the job in hand that may or may not have any particular outcome. I need to divert my intention to internal satisfaction and enjoyment. (As I write this I automatically put ‘internal satisfaction and ACHIEVEMENT’ but then stopped myself: I DON’T NEED to achieve anything. Satisfaction and enjoyment could be enough.)

So with these thoughts in mind, I am going to try to shape my plan of action… I have an opportunity to shape a project of my own, with a meeting set up next week. I will be working with my mentor to get this into a positive shape.