As some one who has suffered from ADHD all her life, I find art a chore anymore. I love doing artistic things: playing the piano, playing the flute, playing the guitar, singing, writing, painting, etc. The problem is, for me anyway, the older I get the worse the voices in my head are about what I am doing.
When I was younger, my ADHD made me hyper and unable to really focus well. As I get older, I hyper focus on things and fun has given way to being competitive and having to be better than others and not just myself. It’s to the point now that I no longer find things to be fun anymore.
Model horse artistry started as a hobby for me – collecting models because I loved horses and then getting into showing and painting. In the last 10-15 years I have really no longer found it fun to do them. Mostly because the competition at shows feels like I am drowning while looking at everyone else do better. I have been in model horses – showing and painting – since 1983.
I have found the negative voices inside my head to be far worse now that when I was 21. I would lose at a show and be like “one judge, one day” and just go on my way laughing and having fun. Now I find myself ripping apart everything and models I just painted being stripped because out of a class of 20 I didn’t place 1-6 and so my work is Sh&t and needs to go. I have thrown more breyers in the trash and stripped more resins of paint than I ever did in the first 20 years of my painting. I can never get them like the references I use or the pictures in my head.
It’s always easy for people to say that you should only compete against yourself, not worry about what others are doing and look at how your work has changed over the years. I used to be able to do that but now that my ADHD has shifted from hyperactivity to a form of impulsiveness, restlessness and difficulty paying attention that is so much worse than my hyperactivity ever was in my youth; I find I am angrier and having less fun. In the last two years I was diagnosed with RSD; I find that I have petty jealousies against certain things and feelings of disappointment and failure all the time.
These especially raise their head when I see so many people now doing fantasy horses that I did for years and years and was never really accepted at shows. Now they are a very accepted part of the hobby and every artist does them. I look back at all the ones I have done and were never accepted and see what is winning now and I admit I feel that crushing feeling that everyone just hates me and what I do isn’t worth it.
I have had years of therapy and working on my feelings and emotions. At times, I have felt like I have made no progress.
As February approaches, everyone in the hobby is gearing up for NaMoPaiMo (National Model Painting Month) – I am sitting here trying to decide what model to paint. I have competed the last three years and instead of it turning out more fun for me, I find myself saying why bother. I still have my first NaMo horse – I love her and think she is the best of the three. The Second year’s NaMo horse met the trash can and 2019’s horse was recently stripped because while I liked him in the beginning, in October I decided he was crap and stripped the paint off.
It’s not only with my art that I feel this, but with my music and writing as well. I have been working on songs and a novel for years that I can bear to share in the light of day with anyone, yet in my youth I won a Young Kansas Writing contest and had it published in a model hobby magazine.
I read a post recently by a well-known hobby artist about NaMo and why bother. Her words were moving, and I have seen and said all those things to myself.
My problem? I don’t remember what is fun anymore. What made me happy in painting, in music, in writing?
The things I want to make would scare other people and so I don’t let them see the light of day. Maybe my problem is I am not being true to myself. Luke Skywalker asked Rey in The Rise of Skywalker, “What are you afraid of?”
She replied “myself” and I was literally bawling in the theatre.
So, my NaMo project for 2020 – is a horse with two sides of me – one is the pretty side I try to show to the world, the other is the beast that lives in my mind; the thing I see in the mirror everyday that whispers all those horrible things to me.
Maybe by making her into something tangible I can get her out of my head and enjoy art again.