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!
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!