The artists´ sensitivity is their strength. It is their sensitivity that nets stimuli and experience. The artist then, in turn, shapes and expresses such stimuli outwardly. Thus, art is born.
“Be careful, lest in casting out your demon you exorcise the best thing in you.”
— Friedrich Nietzsche
Our sensitivity is tied to our impulses and we must, as artists, follow our creative impulses. Our impulses, along with our sensitivity and imagination, are some of our greatest attributes. However, for many artists, their sensitivity leads them to “feel too much” and then to self-medicate.
Many artists struggle with releasing the energy and stimuli they have gathered in their process of going about their lives. Rather than channeling such energy in a healthful way, they turn towards unhealthy ways to deal and/or cope. There are tons of great artist figures of past who had similar issues, who drank themselves into early graves, who died of drug overdoses or found a release in any number of addictions—sexual, food-based, drugs, alcohol, nicotine, etc. The list of poisons is vast.
Some artists, in their looking up to great artists, feel that the greatness such individuals possessed is somehow tied to their unhealthy habits—that being a drunk will somehow make them better artists. This is misguided.
Stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason. This said, I realize not all artists fall into such traps, but there are a very large number who do.
As artists, we need to follow our impulses (that lightning quick voice in our heads that says, “Do this. Do this”). That voice is our whispering muse. However, as each of us is a complex human animal and subject to duality, each of us has a shadow, as well as a light. That shadow has impulses too and those impulses need to be dealt with as well. If we do not face our respective darkness, it gains a foothold of power in our lives. Dark impulses have a way of morphing and manifesting in inappropriate ways—often in the form of emotional explosions.
Each of us, as artists, needs to find healthy creative releases for each of our energies—whether they are dark or light. That is the beauty and power of art. Artists have the ability to use the stimuli they have netted from their sensitivity and express it, bringing what is “inside, out”.
I urge my student artists to find multiple creative releases in their lives—not just their principle medium. This is important. After all, if your principle release is acting in plays, what do you do when you are not in a play? That energy is continuing to build. Many dramatic artists, loving drama, will, at this point, put drama in their lives.
When one has multiple outlets, one can better manage their energy. Creativity can be found in a garden, in how we decorate our homes, how we cook, how we raise our children and in countless other ways. Our creativity is only limited by our imaginations, which, by the way, are as vast as the ocean, when given proper room to expand.
One does not need to self-medicate to achieve their potential. In fact, such practice will, for many, limit their ability to express and will dull the frequency of their sensitivity, which ultimately has potential to silence the voice of our creative impulses, or our respective “muse”.
Finding balance is the key.
Jim Hart is the founder of The Hart Technique and The International Theatre Academy Norway.