I'm not asking is it good for you. I think you may already know the answer to that one. But… is it good for your art?
There were many, many artists (and other creatives) in history that were either obsessive in whatever they did, or had obsessions in certain periods. Some of the greatest pieces of art were born thanks to this particular state of mind. Most of them, though, came at a great personal price.
I'm not proposing you find something to obsess about so your art gets better. Nothing of the sort. I'm talking about when you notice you're obsessed and it didn't occur to you that you can channel this in an artistic way, yet. You may have kept these in different compartments of your mind.
I have found there are some artists that obsess over a particular technique, or improving in a certain period of time, or any technical aspect of art. I'm not talking about that in this instance. I'm talking about an emotional aspect. I'm talking about muses. Some experience, some situation in your life, or someone…
You're sleeping but, in the middle of the night, you wake up. You've been sleeping for just two or three hours, and now that you barely opened your eyes only to find darkness, the subject of your obsession creeps in, since you're vulnerable, and you start ruminating. You can't shut it down. You toss and turn only to realize you're just not going to get back to sleep anytime soon.
It's better to get up and do something with this. Exorcise it. Put in on canvas. Write a song about this. Or a poem. Or just let go and move a pencil around a piece of paper and see what comes out. Even when you still have the subject of your obsession in your mind, now the space is being shared with the art making situation. Your mind is no longer solely focused on the one thing. Even if what you're doing is about the thing, the split of attention will lower the feeling of torment.
Sometimes you may even get lost in the art making zone and the subject may lose its grip on you for the duration of the session. In this case, you successfully transmute torment into joy!
So, asking if obsession is good for art may be controversial. But is art any good for dealing with your obsession? I think the answer is yes.
Barbara Din is a visual artist, graphic designer, painter, interior designer, crafter, musician and writer living in Argentina. Learn more about Barbara and her work at the following links:
Barbara Din YouTube Channel
Barbara Din Instagram