Overcoming Overwhelm

The 10th in our art business series with artist and art business expert, Crista Cloutier, who has been coaching other artists around the world on all aspects of their business via her program: The Working Artist.

The Working Artist

I recently suffered a crisis. My relationships weren’t connecting, my creativity wasn’t flowing. I was overwhelmed and overwrought. It felt like the work was stagnant and it became a battle to get through all the stuff that needed to be done.

Have you ever felt like this?

In times of crisis, I look for those wise teachers in my life so I turned to Andrew David Smith. Perhaps you’ll remember Andrew as I’ve written about him before? Andy is not only a talented artist, he’s also a blind visionary and one of the most profound spiritual thinkers I’ve met.

I shared my angst with him, pouring out all of my frustrations and fears.

“It sounds like your be-ing is coming from your do-ing,” he responded calmly.

My what?

“Your be-ing is coming from your do-ing. You have it backwards. For your do-ing should always come from your be-ing.”

I was so moved by his words that I wrote them down. “My doing should come from my being.”

But what does that mean?

It means that the work you do, hell, everything you do, should come from the essence of who you are. It should tell the truth, be authentic, reveal your vulnerabilities, celebrate your strengths, share your story. And as artists, this is where our best ideas come from, this is where we encounter the flow.

Too often we get hung up on productivity and results. We stubbornly cling to the timetables and outcomes we want. And we forget that it’s all about the process.

When you start to define yourself by the results of your work, when you begin to believe the hype, or worse, internalize your failures and give power to your critics, you lose the way. Your be-ing has started to come from your do-ing. And this is when we find ourselves struggling.

Andy was right. The best work comes from within. Not from outside. “Center yourself,” he said.  “And let your be-ing guide you as you move forward.”

So now I ask you the question my teacher asked me —

Is your be-ing coming from your do-ing?

Or does your doing coming from your being?


Crista Cloutier

Guest Author: Crista Cloutier

Crista Cloutier has been actively involved in the contemporary art world throughout her career. Having worked as an international art dealer, curator, and gallerist, Crista is now the founder of The Working Artist, an online business school for visual artists. 

Honored as an “Influencer in the Contemporary Art World” by LinkedIn, Crista’s work has helped artists in over 80 different countries to exhibit and sell more art.


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