At the heart of this journey as an artist & writer, I’ve been telling myself I simply don’t need an audience to be whatever it is that I am, to do what I do (and, on one level, its true); after all, why make it dependent upon anything but the urge to create for creating’s sake…yet those words can feel somehow hollow at times when that urge wears a little thin, wobbles or stall altogether. At those times, feeling you have no particular audience to create for can equate with having ‘no purpose, no point’ and leave you feeling utterly lost.
But then, if you feel (after all) that there is somebody out there, someone for whom whatever it is you share makes a difference, its remarkable how things can come back together again and, actually, come to settle so much more closely upon the heart of intrinsic YOU, without all the unnecessary trimmings. No longer, secretly, feeling like you must scatter-gun create, trying to generate output that will please everybody (and so, likely, nobody at all), there is suddenly a deep inner light switched on; one that is fed by a strong sense of resonance with other beings who get you….quite simply….just as you are!
These people are your ideal audience and all you need to do is feel them out there – just as the experienced actor on the stage knows to play to the appreciative audience they choose to imagine are out there watching when the lights go down; not the critics, not the naysayers. Then, hold that feeling.
Thinking this through when it first struck me, I realised all in a rush that – lucky me – I had already encountered my two most ideal audiences (for what I write, what I paint – not necessarily the same people) these past few months. For my blogging, that audience is beautifully represented by a particular follower of this blog (you know who you are) who not only reads but takes time to comment, to enter into dialogue rather than just silently pass through, who encourages and shares when my words make a difference, who compares coincidences in her own experiences so that we both get to grow a little from the encounter. In my art-world, it is the couple who contacted me in person (I love that!) after they saw a painting at a show, fell in love with it and spent eighteen long months wishing they had purchased it; who experienced that slow-burn effect of considering other works of art but always coming back to mine; who tracked me down to tentatively ask “is it still available” and who shared with me just how much it meant to them to finally hang it on their walls. These were people who didn’t barter or look like they felt I was asking too much since they were already tuned into its worth; who didn’t treat my work as a commodity or investment that I had next-to-nothing to do with (a feeling you get a lot in the art world) but who were eager to chat about my inspiration and what I do; who left work early in their obvious excitement to take delivery, who left me in no doubt that my art added something to their experience, sending me home full of tea, good vibes and a strong sense of purpose.
There are times when I still stall, when I wonder whether I meet the grade, am simply talking to myself and kidding myself, am not way-out-contemporary or conforming enough (bizarre extremes that I often feel straddled between) in what I turn out, whether – if I stopped doing what I do – anyone would notice or really care. Times when I’m not even sure what my heart is asking me to produce next, so strung-up can it become with ideas of what I ought to be doing. I realise that if I can hold those two ideals, now experiential realities, in my mind’s eye when I create then I wont fail to be true to what I have to offer; wont hesitate, stall or waiver in my ability to show up, just as I am – which is the very best that any of us can do and the most likely place from which we will continue to produce our best, most authentic work.