Produce or Fight

"... Every person endowed by work or by nature with the power to create, should never forget to cultivate art for art's sake, not ask it for other joys than those it already provides; nor more treasures than those it pours out in silence and solitude. In a word: every artist should always leave their superiority at the door when they enter a room, without needing to defend oneself, since, in addition to time, we have an assistant that is more powerful than us. Producing and fighting are two human lives, and we are never strong enough to fulfill two fates.” Honoré de Balzac

I read this passage in the prologue of the book “The Unknown Masterpiece” by Honoré de Balzac and since then my mind has opened up to a new universe.

We live in an increasingly individualistic and competitive society. It is such a big wave that I notice it on a personal level and as an artist, it is very easy to get carried away and fall into it. But over the years I have learned and experienced something totally different: appreciating the importance of community.

How true are those words from Balzac when he speaks of the war between: "producing and fighting".

It truly is wonderful to put all our effort into producing, creating and taking everything that is inside you and capturing it in a work of art. What a great joy to experience and just battle between colors, textures and techniques during the creation process. We experience so much delight when we finish something that we can be satisfied with.

I'm talking about that moment when the last brushstroke ends with your signature and you sit in front of the canvas and just enjoy it. It is a unique and unrepeatable internal process for each work. I love that Balzac does not speak of the importance of criticism that others make of your painting, whether or not others like it, whether or not your work will sell. Leaving our ego aside in the gallery, or these days, on social media. It is about that intimate, genuine and personal experience that we have during the process where the success of the result is found in yourself and in what you have learned while working.

On the other hand, Balzac talks about competing and if we dedicate our time and effort to this, we weaken our ability to produce. When we focus on defending ourselves, being defensive about what others may think or say about us, about our work, etc, we end up disappointed and as the Spanish saying goes "my joy in a well."

Living in community with other artists in Madrid taught me that great truth.

In our little co-working space, we didn't compete to see who was better, or checking to see if someone was copying us. We helped each other and we learned from each other. They were the ones who encouraged me, taught me and pushed me to start my own business. I learned from the riches of the community as a growth tool. For example: 20 artists can paint the same sunflower with the same technique, but the 20 will be different because each one will paint their own vision of it.

Spending time and thoughts on comparisons can lead us to see ourselves better or inferior to others and that will affect us with negative emotions with which we will bombard ourselves and maybe even hurt others. All this means that we cannot enjoy the fullness that creative work brings.

When we embrace the union of community, it is like walking in a field full of flowers (knowledge) and making a beautiful bouquet with them to decorate our home (our interior).

I think we can also apply this to our day to day even if you aren't a painter or a musician, etc. So to finish, I leave you with a question that I try to ask myself daily to examine myself and change for the better: What areas am I fighting that suck joy and fulfillment from my life? What things am I doing to bless others with my talents?

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