Creative Surgery 101: Possible Hard Feelings About ‘Art Making’ Itself!

Hey how are you? So…..

What do you do when you feel like completely giving up on your creative side, because you just feel like you’re no good at it and you will never improve? It’s only a hobby for me so it’s not an important part of my life but it’s good for self expression isn’t it? How do you combat the insecurities?


Dear Amy,

Beneath our desire to create, if we take some time, to Feel Our Feelings about the ‘Act’ of Creating…

…We May Find That We Are Holding Many Negative Feelings!

A possible concoction of feelings and thoughts might look as follows:

  1. Guilt/I shouldn’t…
  2. Shame/It’s terrible…
  3. Fear/I can’t…
  4. Doubt/I don’t know how…

Any one of these feelings may trigger us into ‘feeling-states’ such as:

Once you understand that Creative Block is intimately entwined with your feeling body, and your psyche or mind, then you can make real progress real fast!

a pen doodle like a spiders web on paper art by phoebe thomasson
Doodling is a great way to just process random thoughts and feelings.

Let me answer a few basic questions right now to kick start a brainstorm for you…

What’s The Point In Making Art?

Who has not asked this question before? The answer is someone who has never tried to make art!

You’ve tried, you’ve done some work, and yet this question bothers you and will come up for you at some, or perhaps many points during the process along the way.

Lets break the whole thing down into two things:

  1. art
  2. artists

ART: what is the point of art?

A world without art?  Imagine a world without art; how would it look? Here are a few suggestions: Grey, drab, conformist, soulless, boring, depressed, unenlightened, undefined, vague, uninteresting, unaware, unimaginative, totalitarian, repressed, dreamless, starving, expressionless, bland, blank, utilitarian, dystopian?

You get the picture. In other words, with out art, where would we be?  Just think about how your own life looks like when it is without it’s art. Anything familiar there?

Now let’s look at it from the positive angle:

Art is necessary because; it feeds the soul, it is the basis of all innovation, it is a human instinct, it shakes up the status quo, it maps the psychic landscape of the times in which it is created, it enables us to know our history, it is a diary for the artist, it is a map for the people, it gives meaning and purpose to life, it illustrates life, it questions, it pushes boundaries, it makes us think, it makes us question, it feeds the imagination, it inspires, it enables the inventive mind of genius, it is freedom itself!

Need I say more? You get the picture. I wonder if any of the above resonate with you when you create a piece of work. Do you feel somehow more connected to the grand scheme of things?

impressionist painting of two people meeting art painting by phoebe thomasson
Practising art in any form can help us be absorbed in the moment and thus connected to everything.


When, we place art in a context that makes it into more of a worthy pursuit, hobby or profession, we can begin to place our own art making into a larger sphere, that is the art of the world.

ARTISTS: What are they good for?

Artist: You are a pixel in the larger picture. Without your full functioning, the image is incomplete, fuzzy, blurry and well, pixelated!

What really counts here, is not the art produced, but the artistic experience…

So. Back to the question in hand.

What if we are not enjoying the making process and we feel stuck? Well, one way is to acknowledge that this too is a Creative Block (one of the biggie’s) and therefor it can be worked through. See earlier post Creative Surgery 101.

The other is to use the ‘Letting Go Technique’ as outlined by David R Hawkins, (see link below) which basically means sitting with feelings as they appear and releasing them. This is very powerful, tried and tested by myself. (Click through to purchase book below… I get a penny, maybe? ;))

This is the fast track but the most hardcore. Ready?

Getting Hardcore: Use Your Art as Therapy for Your Soul…

This is where I started with my art practice; at once a desire to be an artist and the at times, painful process of recognising how far I had to go.

a skull and crossbones drawing art by phoebe thomasson artist
We may enter dangerous places in our own psyches when we open up during a creative practice. That’s why it’s hard at times, and often considered ‘subversive’.

Being an artist is a process, not an end in itself!

Why are you making art at all? Why are you engaging in this process if it’s so painful at times? Probably for at least three different reasons, and they are interchangeable throughout your career/hobby:

  1. Because you want to make art
  2. Because you need to make art
  3. Because you aspire to make art

Art As THERAPY: To use art, and make art in this way, requires commitment: One piece of paper/1 canvas at a time!

No more, no less…

Think not of the future but focus the full weight of your being on the doing of that one thing.

Do it even though it feels bad!

Feel and release your feelings as they come to you. This is sacred time.

This is therapy. This is how to use the art itself, to unblock you to create better art in the future.

bright and bold painting abstract with a hint of a figure
Sometimes painting really quickly, with abandon can be incredibly ‘freeing’ and very fun too.

Use the moment to moment awareness of your brush/pen/pencil to become your meditation.

The artistic result or outcome, does not matter, but your experience does!
This is using art as therapy.

ART: it is cheaper than psychotherapy, and I have not yet met a person who couldn’t use some!

So now you have at least two new models to apply to your creative life:
1. art as therapy
2. art as art

Some days you will need one over the other. If you have to to generate income then the latter is essential. If you don’t, then it is not. Focus on number one, to help you get to number two, even if it is just a hobby!

JUST a Hobby?

Hobby: Definition keywords; recreation, leisure, past time, enjoyment, interest, worthwhile purpose

Why is it worthwhile?

From a logical standpoint it is very worthwhile to make art. The documented evidence now shows us that well-being and health are super dependent on the lifestyles we lead. If we are all about work and have no play, well you know what they say!

Amy: In A Takeaway Nutshell…

I would question your attitude, first and foremost, towards your art making. To devalue it in the way you appear to do [“…so it’s not an important part of my life”], when actually it could play a vital role in your life, is perhaps, behind the despondency you feel?

The solution will appear through finding a better feeling space about your art, and your way forward then, depends on shifting your paradigm.

Try to be as fluid as possible with your practice and name it as such. Just as yogi’s, poets, dancers, actors, singers, musicians, must so too ‘practice’ their art in order to excel, the work IS IN UNTYING OUR SELF MADE TANGLES and doing the work of doing the work!

I try to make my advice here open and non-prescriptive, because if you follow your feelings, on all counts, they will show you YOUR WAY, for no-one else can walk your path better than you.

Don’t expect to ‘get’ everything here at once, take it away and meditate on what I say and your intuition will guide you. This advice comes from my own years of trial, effort and feeling, deep, deep feeling about my process. I hope it serves you well.

uv paint on canvas party fun dribbles drips and flicking paint
Getting spontaneity and control right is an art in itself. There is usually more to abstract than meets the eye.

Only Remember This:


Sat Nam




Accompanying study to this process approach:

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