Be Brave: Make Art!

Once I took a workshop by Michigan artist Donna Zagotta who claimed, “All life’s problems can be solved by more paint or painting more.” I think she was on to something!

This world can be a scary place. There are plenty of people making very good money stirring up fear and hatred and calling it entertainment. Or even news. But there’s at least one way out of fear. Be brave, make art!

Why? Because art teaches us not to be afraid. Because every time we make art, we have to face our fears and overcome them. Do that enough, and you just might realize you’re capable not only in art, but other areas as well.

First, there’s that scary white surface. Paper, canvas, wood, it doesn’t matter. It’s blank and you have to fill it. Oh, where to start? Depending on your style and medium, you may need preliminary sketches or studies. Or you may only need to open the paint tube. Like jumping in a cold lake, you just have to do it.

A bit of fear creeps in as you begin. Is your idea good enough? Will your friends like it? Will someone buy it? Are you talented or skilled enough to pull it off? Will someone laugh at it? Remember those dreams you had about walking into class naked? It’s like that. But keep working. Have a bit of faith. You don’t have to solve the problem all at once. You are the creator here…you can change your mind if needed.

Now you’re midway through. You’ve arranged your values the way you want. Your color scheme is looking great. You’ve got a pleasing arrangement of big, medium and small shapes. Your confidence is growing. Yes, you will be able to finish this piece with dignity!

jen norton artist

Whew, you’re done. You kind of like this one. Now what? Don’t hide it up in your attic…dust-bunnies don’t appreciate your hard work. Shine your light. Show it to someone. Maybe just one person. Maybe you’re ready to have a show. Just get out and let people see it. Art is conversation, but no one will hear what you have to say if you don’t speak. And if no one hears you, how will they know how brave you are. How will you inspire them to also be brave? Have that conversation and learn what others see in your work. Discern what is helpful and what is not. Your world may grow in unexpected ways.

You may not make a lot of money (or maybe you will). Your friends may not like it (or maybe they will). You may not sell it (or maybe you will). But you will be one step closer to being unafraid.


Guest author/artist Jen Norton, is an award-winning California artist. I create artwork that reflects our common spirit, calling attention to the grace of everyday moments. Jen, thanks for sharing!

Let’s meet on Twitter and Facebook and Google Plus…and here is my website to view my paintings. ~Lori


  1. kara rane December 14, 2011 at 9:47 am

    Love is the way~ Imagine a world where we value creating (not destroying). Making, appreciating, Being ART- it is absolutely essential to healing Our world problems, begin Now. One by One the revolution is here.

  2. Maria December 14, 2011 at 11:31 am

    As recent BFA graduate, I am all too familiar with the anxiety and uncertainty about making art. Thanks for this encouraging post, Lori!

  3. Dave December 14, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    “Fear No Art” is one of my favorite get-started phrases. That old working thru the blank canvas syndrome/what if it’s not perfect fear! Great advice…and so true!! Make more art!!!

  4. thejyofcolor December 15, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    Thank you so much Jen you describe my feeling when starting a new painting so well
    Yes we have this butterflies inside before we start but then i forget anything aroung and what
    matters is the colors, the brush strokes the water mark and the Joy (or no) when it’s finished
    Thank you Lori for sharing

  5. Jen Norton December 15, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    The hardest thing about making art is deciding what your core message to the world will be. Once you figure that out (and it can take a lifetime), making art to fit it is the easy part. What is the thing you struggle most with in life? The process of solving or coming to terms with it is where your art is, and where your greatest joy is. That is the content the world needs from you.

  6. Paco Mira December 27, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    Hi Lori, I´m from México and I just started my painting lessons lasto month and I hope soon i can stop working with computers all day long and start living from my paintings and thanks for the encourage!! be brave.

    • Lori McNee January 19, 2012 at 6:58 pm

      Congrats on your bold move toward an art career. It is wonderful knowing that my blog is being read in beautiful Mexico. I hope you learn some more helpful things here!


      • Divya September 4, 2012 at 10:07 pm

        I felt everything written above was JUST FOR ME, since I was totally biased for the reasons like…should I use oil or acrylic, paint still life or something else, birds or flowers, will people comment negatively, ask me any kind of painting related details which I may not be able to answer, and so on….Now I feel that i have clear thoughts and got a great boost of confidence after reading the above passages. Thanks a lot, Divya.

        • Lori McNee November 19, 2012 at 11:48 am

          I’m so grateful this post helped you! That is great news. Art does take courage. You are not alone!
          Lori 🙂

  7. Sarah Dees January 9, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    I love this article, and I’ll share it with my artist groups. I agree with the whole concept. There is a fearlessness inherent in taking the plunge, into making something from nothing. There is a passion to it too, and a special quality to being creative that fills the soul with a sense of accomplishment.

    • Lori McNee January 19, 2012 at 6:32 pm

      Hi Sarah,
      It does take courage to be an artist, especially in this weird economy. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and I hope to see you again.

      Lori 🙂

    • Jen Norton January 24, 2012 at 12:39 pm

      Thanks for sharing, Sarah. Your passion for art will help you do the work you were put here to do!

  8. Mark Sanders January 11, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    Great article! I have started painting again and completed a piece last year and have started on some more. Went through a lot of emotions with the one piece last year but stuck with it and got it done. I kept telling myself, “It is not about if anyone likes my art or not right now, it is about me painting and keeping at it”! I actually got the piece into the county fair her where I live. Didn’t win any awards but that was OK! the whole experience was a big confidence builder for me and has helped me to keep moving forward with my art. I have started a blog about my art and that has been a big help to. A little scary because I am not a writer but like Jen said you have to get out there and show your stuff at some point if you want to get noticed.

    • Lori McNee January 19, 2012 at 6:25 pm

      Congrats on your new blog Mark! Yes, blogging really helps you connect with your collectors and fans. They want to hear about you and your art. Write from the heart. It doesn’t have to be long. Good luck!


    • Jen Norton January 24, 2012 at 12:38 pm

      Yeah Mark! Keep it up… You will learn so much about yourself and your purpose in the process, and that is far more valuable than any awards!

      • Lori McNee January 27, 2012 at 12:48 am

        Hi Jen, it is great that you are responding to the comments. Your post has been a popular one for sure! Thanks again for contributing and following up with your fans.

        Lori 🙂

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