Creative Burnout, a Mask of Sorrow 

So it all started with me dropping all of my brushes onto the floor. It progressively got worse when I worked for four hours on a painting and at the end of it I wiped it clean. To be completely honest, I get impatient with myself and the expectations that I have when I work and when I don’t meet them I throw a mini artistic temper tantrum. I knew what was next. A slump of creative burn out followed by a bout of self loathing and guilt for not being productive. As I reluctantly saunter to the age of 40 I am beginning to understand my patterns very well by now. So it is with no great surprise that I haven’t touched anything paint related for awhile.

It happens to everyone I know and I’ve read every article about other artists that go through the same thing but this one felt different. Every bit of advice they gave felt superficial and unrelated to what I was going through. It seems like the older I get the less time and energy I have to devote to art. In fact,  I’m having trouble even wanting to do it. Part of me doesn’t understand the point of making art because some silly insecure part of me believes no appreciates it. Other times I just don’t care anymore. I’m wrecked with guilt because I feel I like I’m betraying who I am. It is just another way to deny my soul. Oddly it feels like I’m determined to kill it for some reason. It keeps popping up with new ideas and new hope when all I want is for it to go away and leave me in peace so that way I can be the mechanical robot I must be in order to keep the house tidy and be a mom because after all that’s far more important than anything I can do creatively, indeed being a mom is what defines me the most.

It seems as though the mask of me is taking up more energy now. Mom, friend, daughter, wife, Sunday school teacher, paint instructor….there is no time for me. There is no time to just be and I realize the older I get the more alone time I need. So, today it starts with a path. From there I go deep into the woods which feels as though I am journeying into my internal self. The deeper I go the more I feel the authentic self emerges. 

And in the same breath after reaching the internal space of me, I feel an overwhelming sense of my dad’s energy and I remember that it has been almost exactly a year since I saw his face or heard his voice. A whole year has gone by and it has left me breathless since I have seen him nearly every day of my 37 years of life. But there into the deep woods of my internal world I find his energy being recycled through nature. He has become the energy behind the waterfall and the new leaves that sprout from their winters slumber.

When someone moves on from this world those who are left behind become drawn to those things or places they love as if it were a warm blanket on a cold night. He loved science and he loved living in the country so I immerse myself in both. In a way, when I stargaze or sit by a waterfall I am visiting him for a time. He is here, he is now, he is everywhere but I still miss his physical presence. I miss his ridiculous laugh, I miss him shaking his head in annoyance, and the rolling of his eyes. I miss his interactions with his grandson, sharing the couch together while watching cartoons. I miss the slow but deliberate way in which he explained things. And there it is…the source of my creative burnout is simply sorrow. As if it were ever simple.

Alas, though, I had to return to my world and he had to go to his. For there are dentist appointments to be made, Easter eggs to be hunted, swim lessons and all the business of life. But as I emerge from the deep wooded world of my internal being, knowing he is there waiting makes the sun a bit brighter and warmer and I am once again entranced by the miracle of life. I will always want to stay by the waterfall with the woodpeackers and song birds in the back ground but knowing it is there bidding me to rest in the symphony of natural life brings peace. In a small way I have left my sorrow for the waterfall to wash away and I emerge with a deeper meaning of Easter and its promise.

A field sketch from my sketch book is nothing grand to look at, that is for sure. But even the humblest things have meaning to them because this represents not giving up.  Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, beginnings are the most important step to something more.

4 thoughts on “Creative Burnout, a Mask of Sorrow 

  1. Boy, your words are my thoughts also. I haven’t painted since we moved 7 years ago. I see something I think would make a great painting, but do I do anything…No…I’m “too busy” . Your tribute to your dad also hit home, also. Your writing skills are as good as your artistic skills.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wish I could write half as well. I think in learning more and more about yourself, you’re learning more and more about your father. And that’s quite a gift he would be glad to accept.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You are a gifted writer, Lori. I struggle with words but I find that once I’ve stated something well I feel that I’ve defined it and it’s good therapy 🙂

    I like the truth and authenticity. There’s nothing easy about being an artist!

    Liked by 1 person

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