The ability to do something that frightens one. Strength in the face of pain or grief.
So goes the creative life. Artists pour themselves into their work. Their stories are splashed all across their canvases, laid bare for all to see, interpret and judge. How tempting it is for artists to cater to that anticipated reaction, tweaking their work so it is guaranteed a positive reception, accepted and loved. That praise is what they are yearning for, begging for. It would justify all the sacrifices made so that they can create in the first place. But it can't be forced. It must just come.
Almost more intimate than giving of ourselves physically, is exposing it through creativity. I personally feel that more of my essence, more of my emotion and my energy, is in my creative work than you will ever find in my being at any one moment. Art is often made over hours of laboring. And when artists aren't actually creating it, they're thinking about it. One puts all aspects of oneself into their medium. I sincerely feel that is why other individuals connect with art. The artist has exposed their soul, and the viewer sees part of themselves in it. It is an intimate, unspoken experience shared between the two. In such instances, the art is carefully created by the artist, then seen, loved, and purchased by the viewer. That's the fantasy, anyway. As much as artists desire that acceptance and the exchange of currency, I don't believe you can manufacture that experience. The viewer seeing exactly what the artist intends to project can't be synthesized. And no artist can possibly imagine what everyone will see and discover in their work. Those who love it AND those who hate it can do so for reasons never even anticipated. And then there are those who seemingly don't notice it at all...
But what about those nagging, negative reactions? Perhaps artists should just proudly acknowledge that they elicited a response of any kind in the viewer, for their job is then complete. Fellow artists, abandon the thought that you can control the viewer and, instead, exert your energy into igniting something, anything into someone, particularly yourself. I truly believe that if what you are creating is a sincere expression of who and what you are, that it will be beautiful. For me, that is true regardless of the subject matter. Some of the most disturbing art I have seen is the most breathtaking. Those of us with difficult pasts have, understandably, a trying time overcoming them. I don't think sordid pasts are ever really past, but ever present. They become a part of who we are, part of our story. Undoubtedly for the artist, the creative process is a way of expressing and dealing with life's difficulties, whatever they may be. I feel that artists are compelled to share these deeply personal and often private experiences. But that is where creativity takes courage. So go ahead. Put yourself out there. Raw. Naked. Just you and your work. You might just be surprised.