In order to grow we have to let go of old ways of being, of thinking, of doing things, and find new ones. This all sounds simple, but isn’t, partly because of the messy scary part in the middle: what Bill Bridges calls “the neutral zone.”
The neutral zone is that in-between time, when you’re giving up old ways but haven’t yet found new ones. It can be uncomfortable because you’re not sure what comes next, but for artists it can also be a creative space. You remain in the moment, paying attention to what you’re thinking and feeling, and let yourself explore new possibilities. You learn how to live with confusion and uncertainty as you move forward.
When creating a new body of work you may let go of old boundaries and assumptions. Perhaps your realistic paintings are becoming more abstract, or your sculptural works are turning into an installation with sound or video or a larger conceptual framework. Remember that this may be a slow, messy, and uncertain process. Trust yourself, and be patient, as you welcome the new in all its wobbly beginnings.
If you’ve been away from your art practice for a few months or even a few years, it is even more important to pay attention to the transition process. The difference between not making art and starting to make it again is profound. Don’t be surprised if your doubts and fears resurface, but let yourself begin. Build space in your life for art, gradually and consistently, a little bit at a time.
Creating real change takes both concentration and a willingness to be at sea for awhile. You may have to say no to other people’s needs, or even give up old habits. Allow yourself the time and space to grow.
Mary Edwards, Ph.D
Career & Life Coach for Artists
“Left Brain Skills for Right Brained People”
As an artist coach, I bring a unique combination of business knowledge, art world experience, and professional coaching skill to my practice.