The Heroes Journey and My Art

I reread the Star Wars X-Wing trilogy recently. Pleased that I found it a compelling as when I first read it. Reading for hours at a time, even late into the night. But the stories are what I note most of all. The feelings of joy, the camaraderie, the connection I felt with the characters.

Book Cover

I’m something of a romantic still. I consumed books, films, TV. What I remember back then and is still a part of me is how much my imagination was unleashed. Reading those books, watching films like Star Wars, TV-like Babylon 5. They became part of my aspirations my daydreams.

I was there at the Hoth base when it came under attack by the Imperial Fleet.

I was there with the Starship Enterprise battles with the Borg.

I was there..

It also paralleled my time on the fictional worlds of computer games. Here you are the protagonist. Games like Mass Effect and Dragon Age are narratives that involve the same tropes as that of stories. I miss those games, the distraction they provided.

To me what I take away from those times is why I felt the need to escape from reality so much. I hid in fantasy because my in my life I felt lonely. At that time the fiction was more real to me than the people I knew. I had a connection to the characters far deeper than my family and non-existent friends.

I have heard this about fictional worlds they act as a kind of support network for those isolated and alone. I get to control the experience, no one can hurt me in those daydreams. I’m always the hero, always successful.

One could say it the power that story has over us. We become different people, we imagine different selves, and it shows just how fluid this sense of self is as we change via art to be something else, even only for a brief time.

Every so often I will look back at those times, a nostalgia trip. But a part of me now rebels against it. I worry, stories make me feel yet prevent me from experiencing reality. Maybe they have stunted my emotional growth by making it too safe to experience emotion.

I can’t go back to that person, who escapes life and doesn’t face it. I couldn’t keep staying away from a life I found to be confusing and scary. I guess I’ve tempered my Romanticism with some down-to-earth Classical Realism. Passion with rationality, power with responsibility.

Daydreaming and immersion in a narrative are useful escapes from reality, but they’re still escape.

I miss the part of that gets so swept up in the narrative, dreaming of the battle fought, victories won, friends found. The good thing is I still do, as rereading of books shows.

We all have our stories to live, and that story is both shaped by us and we are shaped by it

Yet now I want to create my art. My struggle now is in what form and what do I want to say. My art is about feelings. I think I use art to try to give me the feelings in my life that I miss. Love, companionship, courage, purpose. The question I’m asking is ‘where does this romanticism fit in my art practice?’, as it might in my life.

It may be impossible however, maybe I’m using art to run away from those feelings that I so desperately want to feel. Illustrating and painting Fan art is one idea I had, but even that doesn’t seem enough. When I paint or draw I don’t often feel what I want to express when I’m creating my work.

Like Jackson Pollock said. I want to express my feelings not represent them.

My relationship to emotion, stories and art has changed and is more complex than before. Because now I have to find my own expressiveness, my own voice. To reflect what I feel when I am moved.

I fear my art will not be enough let me feel what I need to feel. Those stories that have entertained me since I was a young man.

I think most of all its because I’m alone, I need a shared struggle, a common enemy. I miss stories, the simple immersion they give allowed me to feel without any danger or shame. Now in my art practice, I want to express my feelings, and it’s a struggle to find how.

I don’t know where my art will fit into this, perhaps stories are the way. Use the Heroes Journey framework to provide some structure to my efforts. I need a villain, like the Empire, in Star Wars, and I will need allies to stand beside.

Jackson Pollock by Hans Namuth

Maybe it will come from my buyers my fans, those who enjoy my art, and my ideas. Creating in a vacuum without feedback is hard. It’s too easy to become demoralised, lonely, desolate.

Changing other’s lives will perhaps give me the joy, the camaraderie, connection and purpose I need and want so much. I need to reach out more, share my ideas, my time, my art, my company. I can’t keep to myself, if I did that there’s little chance those emotions will ever be found.

It’s going to be hard, my fears and anxiety are deeply felt, and well-practiced. But I don’t see any other way.

I need to be brave, just like the heroes I read about in my stories. It’s not about going back to the stories, becoming lost in make-believe, but channeling some of that youthful romanticism into my life again. To somehow find a narrative that lets me do my art and find the life I want to live.

Maybe I’m overthinking it, perhaps the answer is I just need to get out more and write the stories I find. Let myself be moved by something, someone or a place. The feeling of the sea, a person, a bird, a story, a colour.

Here my abstract expressionistic side comes out. Forget a subject matter just paint as I feel, like Pollock. Immerse myself in the act of painting, and the material qualities.

This is what abstract artists often do, it’s more about the process, not the end result. I just need to get out there and make my art the adventure it is.

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