Friday, June 22, 2007

Oh no! It's the post show blues...

The paintings are painted, the titles ring true, the work is signed, the hanging wires are on, and the show is documented. The press release has gone out. The work is expertly placed on the walls of the space that you are showing with.

The artist statement is crafted and placed on the wall, and all your tags are straight. Even your website has been updated to showcase your latest body of work. You are exhausted, happy and amazed that you managed to pull this off again. You are giddy for a day or two, you love the way the work looks on a well lit wall, and that there is space to stand back and really take the work in. Perhaps you feel this is the first time you have been able to really see your own work.

Oh, what a relief it is... Or is it?

Don't be surprised if a nagging hollow feeling sets in, a sadness, a "what now" kind of feeling. You've worked so hard for months, maybe even a year or so to pull this off and now people are complimenting you, and you are connecting to the public in a positive and powerful way, so you feel you should be over the moon, but it just doesn't connect. You are pleased but not giddy anymore, and now you are beginning to feel a bit adrift.

You may feel silly or even guilty for thinking this, so I am just going to say it. You have the post show blues. So now that you know, here's a few things you can do about it.

I still deal with this process after a large show is completed. It sneaks up on me and surprises me every time. My natural thought pattern after a show is "wow- good job that was a huge undertaking, it's time to kick back and be a zombie for awhile." I don't go up to my studio for weeks, I watch more TV/Internet than normal, I just kinda kick back in a major way, but instead of feeling any peace or relaxation, I start to feel worse, and more bummed out. So, even though it may seem counter-intuitive to get back into the studio after a big show, I recommend it highly.

Get back on the horse, and regain focus. Try little doodles, collage, perhaps even a medium that you don't normally work in-just keep moving, and don't let inertia take over. Create for fun, not for show, and take a little of the pressure off.

Realize that your life isn't falling apart, you are just in a jumble temporarily. If you think about it, it makes sense to feel sad after completing a body of work. While creating this body of work you had a strong sense of purpose, you had a goal, a theme, a deadline. You created these works, and you created the time and memories surrounding these works of art. When the show is done, you are then releasing all that to the public, and there is a letting go.
This is a wonderful part of it, the letting go, but is may always hurt a little. This just means you are emotionally invested in the work, or the process of creating the work. Trust me, this is a good thing, people who view your work can sense this.

Try to view this time not as an end, but as a beginning. The paintings are about to be thrust into a new life, a new understanding, and atmosphere. Many things were learned while creating this body of work and while these paintings have been fully actualised, think of all the little tricks and ideas that popped up while you worked on this body that you couldn't fully explore. This is your fuel for the next work and the next show.

Be honest with yourself or someone close to you about how you are feeling. It is hard to admit you are feeling less than stellar, when everyone around you is happy and excited for you, and you may also feel pressure to project a certain image to potential clients. Hopefully there is at least one person that you can express these feelings to or perhaps you can write about it in a journal and let it go. Keeping it bottled up will only make you feel more alone and stuck. Let it go so that you can start to free your energy up for the next exhibit or creative project that comes your way.

Take time to celebrate yourself and your accomplishments and then get back to work. Have a nice dinner, throw yourself a party, buy yourself flowers or a gadget, and then clean up your studio space, make it inviting, and start anew.Think of all the new paintings that are waiting for you. They can't be created without you. You make these paintings, your ups, your downs, your passion, and your perseverance.

Post show blues? Don't go down without a fight.

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