There’s a lot that comes with being an artist to stoke the ego fires:
- The ultimate badge of specialness
- Cascading down the river of Creativity Flow
- Rampant self-expression
- The delight of watching what’s around the corner coming toward you (or you toward it)
- An unbridled sense of a purpose-driven life
- Merging with forces that are bigger than the ego (a bit of irony, that one)
- The ability to create beauty (as in “the eye of the beholder”)
Only, before I continue, a couple of clarifications…
1. The Ego
I have never been at peace with ego bashing and the popular idea that our ego is a function of The Self that either gets in our way, or presents some hurdle to a more authentic or spiritual self. Or that it’s core essence is narcissistic and infantile.
I experience Ego as a state of being that provides us with essential survival tools for our psyches, even as it allows us to experience pleasure.
It gives us a framework to understand our own personalities. It provides the template for self-reflection. It gives us a sense of wholeness, so the disparate selves we all experience (who are we out with our friends vs. with our mother?) don’t scatter into a pile of disconnected pieces.
And it gives us a framework to understand our own maturation process. Through the Ego we can sense when we are maturing out of an infantile state.
And, yes, some of us settle for narcissism or fail to mature. And some of us use the Ego to bolster neurosis, bore our friends, and batter our colleagues.
But this is not, de facto, the Ego’s fault. The Whole Self has responsibility here. What the ego most clearly gives us, or withholds, is our ability to be confident (earned or not). While it is maturity, not the Ego, which can measure what we’ve rightfully earned (or not).
2. It’s Not All A Bed of Roses
The partial list of artist ego-pleasures above does not discount the raft of challenges you also face—from how to maintain integrity and put food on the table, to how to endure a fund raising event when you’d rather be in the studio.
The Trick Is Recognizing The Siren’s Call
Q: How do we allow our ego fires to be stoked without following the Siren’s call away from shining the light on our true self?
For what great art does not, at some level, do that—shine the light on the true self?
And the strongest Siren’s call, I’ve found, is the call to Beauty.
I am not suggesting that you do not make beautiful art, if that’s what compels you to get up in the morning.
But don’t stop at that destination unless you are 100% sure that your beautiful art is simultaneously shining the light on your true self—all the time, in all kinds of weather.
Far too often I see artists stopping by the lake to admire the seductive reflection of Beauty without diving in to see what treasures may be waiting in the darker, deeper depths.
Far too often I watch artists skillfully ruled by fear (which can go by many names: stubborn, resistant, it’s just who I am, beauty is my soul, it sells so well, people love it… ) as they hide the light of their true self behind the beauty.
Challenge: Give up Beauty for the next two weeks, and then come back here and tell me what happens.
P.S. Did you miss Great Art (Part 1)? Click here to read.
Written by Ariane Goodwin, Ed.D.
Posted under Great Art, Inspiration, Insight, Uncategorized
Tags: art, visual artist, artist, visual art, visual artists, fine art, beauty, being an artist, creativity, creative flow, great art, Siren, Ego, authentic self, self expression, spiritual self, psyches, self reflection, bed of roses, pleasure, ego fire, Siren's call, challenge
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