When You Don’t Feel Inspired… (Story from Chuck Close)

What would you do when you don’t feel motivated?
Or the time you don’t feel inspired – for work or for anything else you need to do?

Do I always feel motivated or inspired to create artwork?
– No. I sometimes feel unmotivated or just don’t feel like creating in the studio.

A lot of people might think creating art is just fun. Maybe, some fortunate artists feel this way all the time. And that’s great. For me, however, while I enjoy choosing the materials and such, once I start working on a project, perhaps only 5% of my time is fun. The remaining 95% I feel is work. A lot of unorganized thoughts, or many different ideas and techniques which are still not in order in my head, would leave me frustrated. When I am in the process of putting my projects together, or when I have multiple projects/tasks with tight deadlines all at once, I feel like procrastinating. And this makes me feel unmotivated or uninspired even though I have high expectations and anticipation for the finished pieces. The whole process creates very complex emotions.

Once I’ve made up my mind with exactly what I want to do and the results please me, I feel excited and eventually happy. I would lose my mind or immerse myself in the process. When I see the completed piece in my studio, at galleries, or in a collectors’ hand, it feels great!

We do things that we enjoy and interest us in the beginning. However, soon after, the passion may be doomed. Life is much more challenging and rewarding when we stick with something over years or decades. Work, relationships, activities and everything important to us requires efforts and patience.

It is good to have inspiration, or try to be inspired. However, when we are not inspired, we can get  stuck. What should we do then? CBS aired a segment called “Note to Self” which featured a letter that Chuck Close wrote to his younger self. It contains great reminders in life, whether you’re an artist or not, that I found very interesting, uplifting and encouraging.

elow are the two that stand out as my favorites:

“Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work. Every great idea I ever had grew out of work itself.”

“You don’t have to invent a wheel everyday. Today you do what you did yesterday. Tomorrow you do what you do today. Eventually you will get somewhere.”

These quotes make me feel relieved and believe in what I’m doing. In fact, Chuck’s comments make me feel more creative. It is OK if we don’t feel inspired all the time. And even when you don’t feel like you can keep going, just SHOW UP and GET YOUR HANDS DIRTY!

Additional quotes from the Chuck Close special:

“Never let anyone define what you are capable of by using parameters that don’t apply to you.”

“Sign on to a process and see where it takes you.”

“If you overwhelmed by the size of problem, break it down to a mini-bite size pieces.”

“Everyone needs to feel special.”

“Absolute the worse thing can happen to you, and when you get past it, you will be happy again.”

Chuck Close is a American painter and photographer, who lives and works in New York. He is renowned for large-scale portraitures/human faces through photography and varied inventive drawing and painting techniques, and recognized as a photorealists. He mentioned the encounter with a Jackson Pollock painting at the Seattle Art Museum at the age of 11, influenced him and changed his perspective from what he thought art was. He has a B.A. from the University of Washington and received his MFA from Yale University in 1964. One of his best known subjects from that period was composer Philip Glass, whose portrait Close painted. Later in 2005, Glass wrote a musical portrait of Close. Chuck Close’s recent series features 20 Hollywood stars without make-up or airbrushing. You can find the collection in the 2014 Vanity Fair Hollywood Portfolio issue (on stands February 11th).

I knew some of his work before I saw this video. Yet, I didn’t know he suffered a seizure which left him paralyzed from the neck down, and now relies on a wheelchair for his mobility. Compared with him, my physical suffering of numbness and pain in my cheek, as well as nerve and phantom pain that were aftereffects from the loss of my right pinkie, seem lighter to me. I now feel more connected to his story – as an artist and simply as a person. Unexpected events or a stagnant situation (being unmotivated) can happen to anyone.

You can change your perspective anytime. It’s all up to you.

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About misako

Artist/Author @misakoobaart on Instagram
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4 Responses to When You Don’t Feel Inspired… (Story from Chuck Close)

  1. What a good post to read this morning. I’ve read this same theme several times this week, including another one this morning, on just showing up to work instead of waiting for inspiration. God must be trying to tell me something!

    • misako says:

      Thank you for your response! I am glad that you enjoyed it. I felt convinced to post it this morning (very early in the morning in my time). There must be a reason!

  2. Aaron Collins says:

    Thanks, Misako, for the inspiring words. :) Reading your post makes me realize it’s OK if I’m not inspired all the time. I don’t have to always be “on” with everything I do. You set a tone here that says, “It’s OK to just enjoy what you have right now.” We don’t have to keep striving, or searching for something that isn’t there. I think sometimes we’re not inspired because that may not be where God wants “at that moment.” And we can use that time to reflect and ask ourselves, “What am I doing here with this project or idea?” “Where am I going with this?” Could be a good time to find a distraction and come back, and find your inspiration has mysteriously returned with even more passion. Yes!

    • misako says:

      Aaron, thank you for stopping by and taking time to read my post and leave the comment! I really liked your last sentence. Yes, your inspiration will mysteriously come back with even more passion! Live life and keep showing up.

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