What’s Bugging You?


Infernal, 10 x 10″ Acrylic and Spackle on Illustration Board

“You are no bigger than the things that annoy you”

– Jerry Bundsen

I love the efficient wisdom of this quote. What you let bother you defines you. Makes you think twice about to what exactly you are willing to concede that power to.

I’ll admit it – I have issues with patience and tolerance. I’ve been known to complain about this or that. I even recently participated in an experiment with my wife in which we committed to not complaining about anything for 40 days. In these challenging times, I think I lasted 4 days and only because my definition of a complaint was narrower than my wife’s.

What does this have to do with making art?

As artists we’re constantly confronted with challenges and problems – sometimes we call them “failures”. We are frustrated by them, dare I say annoyed. When we adopt this attitude toward these perceived limitations, we allow them to define who we are. We cannot become “bigger” than them, we cannot go beyond them.

I have sometimes thought that my frustration with my current limitations has been the fuel which propels me past them. And perhaps there is some role played by that attitude in my progress, maybe the pot is stirred in a necessary way. But I realize that ultimately I can only move past those limitations when I drop my annoyance with them. I’ve never really fought my way through a creative limit while holding onto these feelings. It’s only when I let them go, that I am able to redfine myself.

9 responses to “What’s Bugging You?

  1. Thank you for not paying attention to how long your wife lasted with our experiment about not complaining. Frankly I’m still doing it – I just adjust my definition of complaining whenever I need to!! Keeps me feeling successful and happy. LOL

  2. I love the colors and the power of this piece !! Intense !
    Does it have anything to do with the discussion ?? Is it just a random juxtaposition ??

  3. Susan

    After 20 years I’ve learned which secrets to keep…


    I know it’s hard – complaining is such a satisfying release sometimes (not so much for those around you…)


    A lot of my recent work is coming from a place of chaos, abandon, tension so there is a connection.

  4. Bob, first I want to say that I am very sorry for not being ale to visit really regularly, and to enter the discussion. It has been tough times here with different issues and I had neither time nor the right mood (no, I am not complaining!!!)…
    Most people I know are not able to accept really deep compliments, but perhaps YOU are: this is really one of the very best art blogs I ever came across! Your discussions themes are deep, sincere, human and so interesting!
    This is why I regret not to be able always to participate… but i do what I can!

    I generally find “complaining” very “unattractive”. When Kevin starts, I always sat to him:
    “Stop, it is not sexy at all!”
    and believe me, this works! At least for a little period of time…

    I do believe that YOUR basic problem is not your limitations, but your expectations. I never met you personally, but I feel it when ever I read you. I think this is the place where you have to go, where these expectations are born, and drop them at the base. It might sound like cheap psychology, but i do know what I am speaking about.
    I really believe that you have to think about your expectations, where they come from, and where they go… I mean, what they will bring to you?
    In my opinion they just bring frustration. Nothing else. They don’t bring happiness, neither success. In fact I do believe that they work against success.

    This last series is truly wonderful… if they are the result of “chaos, abandon and tension”, then this is the place where you should artistically live! Half a joke… but seriously these words, at least the 2 first ones, speak for a state of inner freedom…
    The second has much to do with “violence” which we discussed the other day…

    Your wife is a great example of somebody who knows how to go to these places of non-expectation and inner freedom…
    And she indeed rarely complains… this is extremely relaxing to be around her! And relaxing for herself too, I am sure. Complaining costs so much negative energy!

  5. Miki

    Thanks so much for the kind compliment about the blog and my current work – your voice is always welcome and missed when absent! But I understand how life can get in the way of what we want to do at any moment…

    Your insight from afar is good – it’s true, I do have expectations about many things and do not have Susan’s ability to let go of them. I’m a very goal oriented person, which has it’s advantage and disadvantages. And you’re right, Susan rarely complains! Is there a connection?

    On the other hand, if I did let my expectations go I suspect my blog would be quite different, perhaps even boring! Are you willing to make that tradeoff???

  6. Thanks for you kind answer, Bob.

    I am not really sure that “goal oriented” and “expectations” are so deeply connected. Well, of course they are, because when one has a goal, one expects to reach it. But still… i will try to explain.
    I am myself extremely goal oriented, everybody who knows could testify. But i haven’t expectations the way you have them, I think. Perhaps it is a question of how we define our goals? Perhaps I have abstracter goals than you? Goals which one can’t “quantify” or “concrete” as much as yours? I think my goals are very concrete though, but I try to let them as general as possible, and above all I try to let the way to the goals as free as possible, totally open to what ever crosses my way.
    Let me give you an example. My declared goal since one year is to swift my painting business totally, from the “real world” to the internet. I mean I don’t want to do real exhibitions any more. don’t want to meet potential clients, don’t want to have anything to do with “the usual circus”around the artists. I could never cope with it, it is too much a world of lies for me… this is why the internet. it gives me emotional and practical freedom too.
    This is a really concrete goal. I give myself about 4 years ore to reach it. With the expectation to reach within the next 2 years about 50% of my business going via internet.

    My way though is very open and free. I have no intermediary goals, no special tools. I go with the stream. I look through each “Window’ which opens to me on the net, and take it seriously. Believe me, it could be very frustrating sometimes, but I always tell me that i have no way to understand why something happens or not happens or not works. I just keep in mind the ultimate goal. And I try to do always the best I can. And if I keep doing the best I can, I know it would be enough to reach my goal.

    important too on the way is to have fun, to enjoy what I do and to keep relaxed. Not easy of course. but if I can maintain the fun, then the relaxation is assured!
    I would even say that my best “weapon” to success is to have pleasure in what i do. Pleasure relaxes, and makes even innerly free. And freedom again is, I believe, the way to success, in which ever goal we have.

    Sorry, a very long comment and I am not even sure that I have made my point. It is very difficult for me to express in English such things (and Kevin is not here to help right now).

    y the way, all that was not meant as something like “a teaching”. It reflects only my experiences with life and success.

    And to answer your last question: I doubt very much YOU could do any boring blog!!!!

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