Becoming Unstuck

I've been able to get outside a lot, and create new images. But what I've been having trouble with, is actually getting round to scanning the work and editing it. The problem is that since I'm so busy running a workshop business, when I do get some free time, I've not been feeling that I have any energy left to deal with the backlog of work that has been piling up in my studio.

 Nisa Bost, Isle of Harris, November 2014. © Bruce Percy

Nisa Bost, Isle of Harris, November 2014. © Bruce Percy

When images start to pile up like this, it can have some negative side-effects to your own psyche. Firstly, if too much time passes, then it gets increasingly more difficult to look at the work. I can easily become so distanced from it, that I actually start to dread looking at it. Before long, any work that's left undone for too long starts to feel like a burden to look at. It begins to feel like a chore. And this simply isn't a good position to be in.

Then before long, a sense of perfectionism starts to creep in. You're so worried to look at the work in case it doesn't live up to what you hoped it might be that procrastination soon becomes the order of the day. And this is like a compound problem - a problem that is created on the top of a problem you started out with, and things just start to get far too complicated.

Creating art is all in the mind, and to be able to create work, we must have a healthy attitude towards what it is that we do. Once things like perfectionism and procrastination creep in, then things can quickly start to get out of hand and before long you can become lost.

Part of my problem has been that when I do create new images out in the field, I often find I have very little free time at home to work on them. So I decided this summer since I have some time off from my yearly schedule, that I would brace myself and get in and start to work on some of my blacklog.

I'd be lying if I said it wasn't easy to get started. So much time had passed, and I felt the weight of the work pressing upon me, but somehow I managed to get going, and I'm so glad I did.

 Sea grass, Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides, Scotland 2014. © Bruce Percy

Sea grass, Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides, Scotland 2014. © Bruce Percy

I've now found that things have turned around for me and I'm feeling enthused about the new work, and it's slowly but surely gotten under my skin, so much so, that rather than dreading starting work on something new, I now find myself unable to keep away from it.

So I've learned something about myself as well as the creative process. I've learned that in order to keep a healthy attitude towards ones own art, I must keep on creating at all costs. Even if I feel the work isn't up to much, I should still work on it anyway - because in doing so - I gets cleared out of the way. I know from life experience, that new things can only come into my life provided I've made room for them.  So get it out of the way. 

One thing you must also consider, is that it's ok to create bad work, otherwise again, a sense of perfectionism will grow and you'll be stuck once again. We are not masters of our own creativity and therefore we can't control when we will create our best or worst work. There is just an ebb and flow that means our work will fluctuate. Either way, bad work has to be flushed out of the system - it still needs to be worked on and besides, we learn something from the bad work as well as the good.

 White sand, Seilebost beach, Isle of Harris, November 2014. © Bruce Percy

White sand, Seilebost beach, Isle of Harris, November 2014. © Bruce Percy

So I've also had to recognise that I shouldn't be so precious. Art is about creativity, and for creativity to happen, things have to remain fluid. This means letting go.

When you start to control things too tightly, things stop flowing, and before you know it, you're back to being stuck again.

So keep working, keep creating and allow yourself to be open and fluid with what you do. Your output may vary, but the important thing is that you're going somewhere with it, and you're avoiding becoming stuck.