Inspiration to encourage your creativity
It’s April. While the birds are coming back, I am looking out at fresh snow. The sun is getting warmer but at this time last year, my tulips and narcissi were breaking ground. This year, it’s just been too cold.
I have found myself in the same dilemma as those bulbs. My body is craving the sun, the warmth and the smell of mud. Yet, it’s not happening and I am somehow off. For those of us who are sensitives and tied to the mother, it is hard to feel that push/pull.
This is showing up in my art process, too. I am slower, more deliberate, working on small things just to keep the flow going. I did a Facebook live for the first time last month. I agonized over that whole process and vastly over-prepared . What came from that was an understanding that I can’t let fear get in the way of what I need and want to do. I had this big mountain in front of me. There are so many in that group!! I didn’t know how to do it; I was mired in the what-ifs. I practiced….Lord, I practiced!! Then, the day came, and it was so effortless, it was shocking. I had the technical stuff down pat. I realized how much I love my art process and sharing it with others was amazing! To get immediate feedback or questions wasn’t as daunting as I supposed it would be.
Fear is a stumbling block for everyone regardless of where they are in any creative practice. I am going to look at a few and I bet you will find yourself in some or all of them!
Not being good enough
When I first started drawing and painting in 2015, I had no clue what I was doing. I was in Lifebook. I had art supplies all around me on the sofa, the first lesson in front of me. I would do what she did, watch, pause, paint …over and over. I was so proud of that first painting. But, the second lesson was a quick one. It was hours of work in 10 minutes in a time lapse video. It involved collage, paint, drawing….and I stumbled into denial. I told myself that I would never be able to do it. If you know Lifebook, you get lessons every week. I couldn’t do them. I figured that art was not for me and I just wasted the class money and the supplies money. I was so mired in the not being good enough and fear of even starting, I was stuck. Then, two weeks later, after a serious talking to myself about my fears, I did it! From that point on, I was less afraid of taking on new art ideas.
The not being good enough is pure fear talking. It is your ego yabbering at you. Your soul wants to create. It wants to invent. It wants to explore the world and itself.
We all have past voices in our heads that tell us things we learned in childhood. “You will never make anything of yourself.” “You are too smart, too inquisitive.” “Why can’t you be quiet and listen?” This is fear, too. It can stop us from being who we really are meant to be. You can certainly hear them but put them in the backseat. You are not going to let them rule you anymore. I may be that because of my agreeing to it as a child but I am learning to be more! I want and desire more!
It’s all been done before so why bother?
Yes, it’s all been done before but NOT BY YOU! One of the best things we can do as artists is study the masters. By exploring their use of line and colour, we can take what we like and make it our own. So, you are an abstract artist. Study Pollack, Monet, Miro and Moti. Copy what they do. We all learn by copying . Yes, I said it. We do! We start everything, including walking and talking, by copying others. Then, using discernment, we find our own form of language. This is art. Art is a language. We need to learn the rules before we can make it our own. We need to learn the colour wheel; enjoy the making of mud because sometimes mud is good; we discover colour pairings that sing to us and they become our signature. This is where art classes come in. By learning anothers process, we learn technique that can eventually become our own process.
One of our art teachers had a great saying: Don’t compare your beginning to another’s middle. Comparison, they say, is a thief of joy. It truly is. If you are just starting out, please do not compare your art to anything by anyone else. Every piece of art, by you, is a stepping stone. It is a learning ground. You will also hear seasoned artists tell you where they could have been better. The difference is: they are comparing themselves to themselves and their last piece of art.
The act of comparison can make us really angry, too. We are angry that we can’t seem to paint what others do. We are angry that what it is our head isn’t what comes out on paper. We are angry that it is so easy for others and so hard on us. Does that anger really net us anything? No. It just makes us stop. That is what it wants. It is safer to not venture out. It is safe for you to remain the same. Well, thank you, ego dear, but you can take a back seat. I hear you but you are not driving.
I go on Instagram and look at those who are doing animals. I am enthralled with pastel paintings in particular because they are so lifelike. But! I am not getting upset or angry because I don’t know how to do that. It has become a challenge to learn. One day, I will gather up my courage and put pastel to paper.
Terrified of Failure
The failure can be fear but it can also be comparing and finding your voice isn’t as strong as you would prefer it to be. We can talk ourselves out of anything for the above reasons. What are you really afraid of? Is it really failing that is the fear? Or it is ingrained voices, comparison, thinking you don’t have a voice or that you will never be good enough?
I love painting and pushing myself. I have to be honest to tell you that EVERY piece is fraught with fear of completing it. Every painting has an ugly stage. Every time that I get to that part, I start worrying about whether I am going to pull it off. I start telling myself to give up; this isn’t for you; it’s too hard and what are you doing thinking that you are good enough to do this. Every. Time. So what do I do? I continue to paint. I listen and say….I understand….but I am going through with this. I put my head down, and continue to paint. Then, hours later, I push back and it’s amazing. Don’t ask me how. It just is.
The opposite of fear of failure is fear of success. It can be just as daunting and just as stifling. Once you do something good, you are expected to produce more. There is a great and sad story about Harper Lee who wrote To Kill a Mockingbird. After the critical acclaim, she never wrote another book. She was afraid that the next one wouldn’t be as good as the first. She quit. How incredibly sad that is.
Putting it all into perspective
So how do we stop fear from letting us do what we want to do? We need to befriend it. We can’t stop it from talking but we can minimize its impact. When it starts talking, listen but don’t heed it. It is there to protect us but often that protection is misplaced. We can listen, maybe write those fears down. Then write why they are unfounded. You can also start a journal that will help you to understand when and why these fears come up. For me, it is always when I need to do something new that means my getting out there – such as the Facebook live. It was safe for me to get my website up and running. You can hide behind that. The bottomline is we must face the fear and do it anyway. The worst thing that can happen is that it sucks and gesso goes over it or use the other side of the paper. The best thing that can happen is that you continue to learn and grow and are happy with what you are producing.