Sometimes Being Interested Is Enough

being-interested-is-enough

Often when people post their art in the communities I’m part of they follow it up with ‘but I’m not a real artist’ or ‘but it’s just my hobby’. As if there is some kind of division between ‘real artists’ who can post their art without caveat and ‘not real artists’ who need to qualify it before posting (because otherwise what..?).

This might have something to do with someone’s personal level of confidence or the way society views art, or a combination of both. I definitely identify with this tendency, this wish to let people know you don’t want them to judge you too harshly or to let them know you’re not full of yourself. This desperate wish to take a bit of that huge vulnerability out of creating or sharing something so personal as your own art.

It also might even stop you from creating in the first place. That feeling of not being good enough or not qualified enough. Why should you do it if there are so many other people who might do it better?

A couple of weeks back I went to NineWorlds (it is an inclusive geek convention, it’s amazing!) and I put myself forward to speak on a panel about problematic issues in the work of Joss Whedon. As a self-professed Whedonite (I wrote my undergrad thesis on Buffy the Vampire Slayer) I’m semi qualified to speak on this subject.

Nineworlds Panel

But I worried. What if I didn’t know enough? What if I wasn’t good enough or couldn’t contribute? What if my knowledge was too niche (e.g. just about BtVS instead of all of Whedon’s work)? What if other people knew way more about the subject? What if people from the audience looked at me and thought ‘pfft what is she doing on that panel’?

I discussed these fears with my therapist and he suggested:

What if simply being interested is enough?

This actually touches on something that I read in Brené Brown’s book Daring Greatly (I mentioned this book in my previous post) in which she proposes a culture of ‘enough’. That instead of trying to be perfect, we should simply try to be engaged.

When you feel passionate, interested and excited about what you do, it doesn’t matter whether people like it, because the right people will respond to your engagement. When you downplay something, you are giving people a signal that it’s unlikely to be interesting to them, because they will simply mirror your own (lack of) enthusiasm.

This is what I try to do now with my art. I try and move away from the questions of ‘is it good enough?’ or ‘will people like it?’ and instead I try to move towards ‘is this interesting to me?’ and ‘does this make me feel excited?’.

Giving Up?

Ever Feel Like Giving Up On Your Art?

Do you ever get so frustrated with your art that you just want to throw in the towel? Bin it? Give up?

I’m currently teaching in several places (Let’s Face It & Love Art Happy Life) and apart from the wonderful work that is being posted, people also sometimes express their frustration. Their annoyance at not getting it right or not drawing what they see in their mind’s eye. I read about people throwing their art in the bin or ripping it up.

My heart feels heavy when I see people being so hard on themselves!

I really understand that feeling, that annoyance and disgust at what was supporsed to be wonderful, but ended up severely lacking. I’ve never binned my art, but in a way I binned my creativity for years: by simply not creating for fear of creating something disappointing (again).

For me I want art to be something joyful, even if I recognise that it is sometimes a struggle (believe me, I struggle). Getting the balance right is actually a really big part of my wish for self-care and self-respect. Shooting yourself down actually adds another layer of suffering on top of the already existing disappointment of not liking something or something not working out right.

I feel so sad thinking about the fact that so many of you experience this, I want to share my tips for allowing art to be a more joyful experience.

1. Struggle. First of all, let’s just sit with the fact that we sometimes struggle. Life can be a struggle, art can be a struggle. And that is OK. Struggle is not something to be avoided at all cost or a marker of not doing it right. It just happens. Sometimes we struggle with something physical (e.g. art techniques) or emotional (e.g. confidence). If we interact with the struggle and face it it can help us actually get further on our journey. It helps us grow.

2. Letting Go Of The Outcome. I know I harp on a lot about letting go of the outcome *grins* but it’s just so relevant! The art you create simply is. It is not good, it is not bad, it just is. WHY do we want to throw it in the bin, or annihilate ourselves or rip it up? It’s about attaching an importance to it being something ELSE. As long as we’re focussed on wanting it to be anything other than what it is, we’re creating disappointment and suffering for ourselves.

3. Noticing. Being able to think critically and assess our work is a strength and can help us improve, but there is a difference between observing and criticising/annihilation. When you notice instead of judge, you’re simply observing what is. You can then absorb that knowledge in a positive way, rather than a judgy feel-bad-about-yourself-way. It’s the difference between “The eyes are all wrong! It’s ruined!” and noticing “The left eye is smaller than the right eye. I don’t enjoy the look that creates, next time I will try to pay more attention to getting the eyes the same size”.

4. Be Where You Are At. It’s so tough in this online world not to compare ourselves. I don’t know about you but my Facebook feed is filled with wonderful art from amazing artists all over the world. Everyone is doing their own thing and everyone is on their own path. Consuming dozens or hundreds of pictures of what other people are doing can really affect my confidence about what I am doing myself. I start comparing myself and wishing my art was ‘a little more like this’ or ‘a little less like that’. When I compare myself to others I’m treating myself so unfairly, because really I can’t compare myself to anyone other than myself! I’m Iris, I’ve been painting on and off since 2008 and consistently since 2013. I paint a few times a week. I tend to choose expression and play over technical skill and practice. I’ve not been to art school. I’ve followed some online classes. I love trying different materials. Etc etc etc (everyone has their own unique story). The art I’m making is a beautiful reflection of who I am at this point in time, and I am exactly where I need to be.

Say it with me now:

The art I’m making is a beautiful reflection of who I am at this point in time, and I am exactly where I need to be

I really hope that the above will give you some of the tools that have helped me get out of the critical judging way of approaching art and into a more accepting and joyful way of doing art.

If you have any tips I’d love to hear them, please leave a comment below!

Why Do I Create Art?

why-do-i-create-art[image by Fré Sonneveld]

The simple (and slightly vague) answer is, because it fills my soul. I can’t not create art. I live a full life raising two kids and running a business so it often happens that I can’t create art for a few days. When that happens I just don’t feel quite right, I start getting frustrated and I just feel that pull of needing to create!

I guess that all sounds lovely and divinely inspired, but I want to level with you:

It hasn’t always been this way for me

For years I dabbled with art, stopping and starting, struggling to find a groove, not finding it to be that amazing creative holy grail that I thought it would be. I looked at other people creating their amazing art in their own unique style and it felt SO FAR REMOVED from my reality. It was pretty disheartening.

I kept coming back to it though. There was an attraction to art and to creating art that I couldn’t deny, but I had to do some work on coming to it from the right place, even though at first I didn’t even realise I was coming to it from the wrong place. That ‘place’ I am talking about is how you approach making art in your mind and in your heart.

And I’ll tell you a secret:

It has nothing to do with whether you can or can’t draw

I didn’t fully grasp until the beginning of 2014, when I picked ‘journey’ as my word of the year, that I had been approaching art in a results focussed way, rather than as a process. I wanted to create certain paintings, inspired by what I loved seeing other artists create. I thought the joy was in the completed piece, in the end result. I never thought about how I wanted the creating process to feel or whether that could be something enjoyable too.

Or I thought it was one of those elusive things reserved for other people. They know how to enjoy creating art, but I don’t. Or I attached it to skill: I will start enjoying creating art when I can draw a photo realistic portrait.

I started focussing more on the process. What did I like doing, what materials did I enjoy using, what was it I needed to let go of, what was it I needed to invite more of into my heart & mind? The biggest change that this brought was the realisation that what other people do or like or use does NOT have to be same same as me.

That realisation set me free

I admit that I still get tripped up with this sometimes. I look at the work of artists I admire and I start thinking that because I LOVE their work, somehow my art needs to be like theirs.

It doesn’t.

Asking myself what I like doing and the other questions above, has been transformational. Your answers will probably be completely different from mine: CELEBRATE THAT!

Get to know your own unique loveable fallible quirky amazing self

I realised my passion is doing faces. I don’t like ‘colouring in’ (illustration-type work). I ADORE acrylics but I don’t care as much for watersoluble media. I need(ed) to let go of perfection and the wish for my art to look like other people’s art. I needed to invite more trust in, that my work is just right, right now.

Reading back what I’ve written above makes me feel so excited and amazed that I’ve come so far! It also makes me hopeful that if you are on any stage along a similar journey that you will find reading my story helpful and it will help you be a happier person and artist!

Why do YOU create art?

Let me know in the comments below.

Stop Calling Me Talented

Let’s stop thinking of ‘talented’ as a rigid concept that is inherent (you are born with it), and let’s start thinking about it as something more fluid. Talent can be built on and it isn’t required in order to have fun or do something really well.

When people like my art they often tell me ‘Oh you’re so talented!’. It’s a lovely compliment to receive, but it always makes me feel a bit funny. ‘Talented’ seems such a rigid concept. You can’t become talented, you either are or you aren’t. It also doesn’t take into account the hard work that came before it. It seems the most prevalent attitude is: I am talented therefore I can paint a nice picture, not: I have practiced therefore I can paint a nice picture.

Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.  Stephen King  | www.iris-impressions.com

I’ve touched upon this before in my article about Deserving to Do Art. There seems to be this notion that there are people who are already inherently good at something, and therefore they are allowed to pursue that thing. On the other side there are people who are not inherently good at something, and therefore they shouldn’t bother.

Yes, there are people who pick up a brush for the first time when they’re 20 (or 30 or 40) and create amazing paintings. There are child savants who create art beyond anything I will ever dream of achieving.

That’s not the norm!

If you’re reading this it’s likely you’re more like me: enthusiastic and passionate, but not ridiculously talented in any way. If you think my paintings have anything to do with talent, think again. Instead, it’s hours and hours of practice. It was picking up a brush and creating something that looked crap. It made me never want to paint again, but instead I said ‘never mind’ and kept creating. Until one day (honestly, this day came MUCH MUCH later than I would’ve wanted!) I painted something and thought ‘hey, I actually quite like that!’

The thing that makes me sad though is that often with the compliment from the first paragraph comes a feeling that is left unsaid: ‘you’re talented, but I’m not’. People lament and say they ‘can’t paint faces’. Back to that feeling of you can only do it if you’re already magically good at it; if you’re talented. Want to know a secret? I couldn’t paint faces either! I took some online courses and I practiced, and now I can!

Stop Calling Me Talented | comparison image before and after practisingLOOKIE!! I practised!!! I actually have a soft spot for the one on the left too, even if I can see all the flaws. It looks like she was created with a lot of freedom, even though I didn’t yet have the skill to know where to put the eyes or do the shading.

It’s so easy to get trapped in that thinking of not being able to acquire a skill (or attributing it to the magical ‘talent’, which makes it even more elusive and ‘not for us mere mortals’), especially once we leave full-time education. We’re formed, we’re done, can’t change now!

BUT WE CAN!!! We just need to want it enough!

And we need to put in the work. Don’t let that put you off though, the work can be fun. You can make it fun. Remember how kids learn? By playing! Get out your art supplies and play. Talent schmalent. Fun and fulfillment is where it’s at, and that is achieved by enjoying the process.

In the video below I embrace playfulness in art and create a journal spread based around giving myself permission to create.

Let me know in the comments what you think of the relationship between talent and doing things well!

Nine Worlds Convention – How It Helped Me Be Myself

NineworldsIf you follow me on Instagram or Twitter you may have noticed a plethora of updates this weekend just gone tagged with #nineworlds. Last year I went to Nine Worlds, a completely new geeky convention launched through a Kickstarter, together with 2-month-old Zephyr in tow. Maybe I was a bit crazy! It was awesome though, so awesome that I decided to go again this year, sans kids, for the full three days and with a room at the con hotel.

Nineworlds-Iris-Zephyr-2013Me and Zephyr last year at Nineworlds 2013

I don’t know if I can fully express how much I love this convention, and how much I loved going. When I try to think about it my mind just kind of goes like “OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEE PEOPLEWHOQUOTEBUFFYINCASUALCONVERSATION BOARDGAMING INTELLIGENTDISCUSSIONSABOUTSTUFFTHATMATTERS OMGOMGOMGOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

This was a big step for me and also a big learning experience. I think in all areas of my life I am so good at talking myself out of things, especially because of guilt or ‘not deserving’ things. Trying to arrange three days away from my kids (especially Zephyr who hadn’t had a night without me since his birth, and still wakes up 1-3 times a night for breastfeeding), on a weekend when Andrew would be working and staying away from home as well, was a huge obstacle in my mind. In the end though, I felt like I wanted and needed to make it work.

I think that ‘wanting to make it work’ and then making things happen has been a thread in my life this past year or so (I think since starting therapy). I really recognise that I have this tendency to let things happen and then complain about it afterwards (bit of a martyr-syndrome), so this year I have been taking charge of my own destiny if I may use flowery language like that! It started with art and taking it (and myself) more seriously, dressing slightly differently (more geeky tshirts!) and generally giving myself permission to really be myself. Not the version of myself I think I should be, or what I think other people want me to be. It’s a constant checking in and asking myself my motivations and reminding myself of my true path and intentions. It’s a huge relief.

Being-Myself-Steampunk-EarringsPracticing ‘being myself’ with some new steampunk earrings!

So, Nine Worlds, the ultimate safe space to be yourself! But scary, because LOTS of people, I went by myself, I’m an introvert, grrr aargh! It was a conscious effort to push my boundaries. To allow myself to be myself, in public, with other people. Probably slightly helped by the fact that I didn’t know anyone, because you’re not working with an expectation of how you should act or the person people expect you to be.

Jennifer describes perfectly the ‘introvert attends con’ experience:

I worried, as usual, that I wasn’t talking to people enough, and that when I did I wasn’t very good at it, or that my need to take frequent breaks meant I was missing stuff, but this is my normal reaction to being in a big place with lots of people.

Trying to shift the attention on to ‘what I am doing’ instead of ‘what I’m not doing’ has also been something I’ve been working on. So often I find myself getting frustrated because I’m in this headspace where the focus is on what I’ve missed out on or what I haven’t done or what I could’ve done differently. It’s a surefire way to drive yourself crazy and in essence you’re choosing to be unhappy with what has already happened.

So the awesome things I DID do, let me tell you them!

A shitload of board gaming. Something I really miss since having kids as it’s harder to go out to the board gaming group I used to attend. I’m totally trying to make my kids into mini board gamers as soon as possible =p

Board-GamesClockwise from top left: Dixit, Firefly, Puerto Rico, Pandemic

Absolutely brain breakingly hard Whedon quiz. Stuff like “what was the first airing date of X” “match these 10 episodes to the correct writers” “which Firefly actors did voice acting for Halo3”. Also, apparently I am very competitive when it comes to these things lol, I get full on adrenaline rush (I think that’s why I like Eurogames, they play down the competitiveness).

Whedon-QuizOur awesome quiz team, we came 4th

The most super awesomely awesome Once More With Feeling and Dr Horrible singalong with piano accompaniment. This was absolutely the highlight of the whole con. A huge room filled with people who know pretty much all the words by heart and who love this as much as I do, singing their hearts out (nobody spontaneously combusted, pleased to say). AND Dr Horrible and Captain Hammer cosplayers acting out the freezeray scene. MADE.OF.AWESOME.

Whedon-SingalongWhen Dr Horrible wants you to sing, you sing. His wish is your command

Other highlights: Metaphor in Buffy, Free Is a Lie, Women In The Creative Industries panel, Whedonverse and Portrayals of Mental Health discussion, edible knitting with strawberry laces (!! I would show you the bracelet I made but I ate it…) and The Neuroscience of Swearing.

All in all it was three days of basically continuing this journey of discovery that I’ve been on. Finding out who I really am (or who I also am, as well as mother/wife), what I like doing, what I’m interested in.

HURRAH! Awesomely inspiring. Also, so much costume and corset love at this con, I really want to do a series of steampunk art! Whimsy steampunk girls, how does that sound?

Have you ever been to a con (geek or otherwise), what was your experience like?

What Makes You Come Alive? Go Do It!!

I’ve been having some major learning experiences lately with regards to listening to my inner voice. However, it’s funny, I tend to reach certain conclusions about things, like major lightbulb AHA! moments, and then as life goes on I completely forget them and start making the same mistakes again! So then I have to become conscious of what I’m doing again, to get more in line with my true self aaand the circle continues. Hopefully at some point something will stick, right? So, my recent learnings, let me share them with you!

One of the MAIN things I’ve learned these past months is that when it comes to anything you do creatively (painting, blogging etc) you need to do what makes YOUR heart sing. Not what you think other people want to see, what you think you should (such a dirty word!) do or what your parents want you to do. The quickest way to burnout and not feeling enthusiastic is doing stuff that isn’t true to what your inner wisdom is telling you is RIGHT for you. Do what YOU want and your passion and enthusiasm will be infectious and people will be interested because YOU’RE interested (and therefore interesting).

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.Howard Thurman | www.iris-impressions.com

Last week I was in such a dark mood. I wasn’t feeling any of my paintings. I spent a lot of time doing social networking stuff and watching TV shows because something was stopping me from getting into the studio. (To be fair though, I was rewatching Dollhouse, which is very very worth every minute spent on it lol) Every time I sat down to work on my paintings I just ended up sitting and staring into space, or telling myself it wasn’t any good, or that I couldn’t come up with the right ideas.

Until I realised that I was expecting myself to create other people’s art! I was berating myself for the fact that my intuitive paintings didn’t look more like Flora Bowley’s work. I thought MY intuitive paintings should look like SOMEONE ELSE’S otherwise they wouldn’t be intuitive enough… BATSHIT INSANE RIGHT?!!! Seriously, looking back on it it’s so obvious where the flaw in my thinking is, but these thoughts really go through my head when I’ve inadvertently given myself over to my inner critical voice.

And then this happened:

Scared Inside | mixed media intuitive painting on 12 x 10" canvas board | www.iris-impressions.com @rrreow

Scared Inside – mixed media on 12 x 10″ canvas board

I gave myself permission to DO MY OWN THING. I’m sure you can still see other people’s influences there, but I wasn’t actively trying to make it look like anything, apart from what was already inside me. I also gave myself permission to make similar shapes to ones I’d already done in previous work. I tend to tell myself that I can’t do the same thing twice or I ‘won’t be original’. It’s not like the masters ever worked with the same themes or imagery..oh wait.. Again with the crazy inner voice!

Part of the ‘problem’ is that there is so much amazing work out there being created by so many amazing people. I love looking at the stuff my artist friends create or things on Pinterest. It’s absolutely inspiring and makes me want to get into the studio (and when I start thinking “I’ll never be as good as…” I quickly try and shoo that voice away!). Where it goes wrong though is when I think ‘Wow what they do is amazing, I must want to do that too’. That’s where there is a really fine line between being inspired by what other people do (totally awesome!) and wanting your work to look like theirs and trying to achieve that (not so fulfilling).

I’ve realised that “What I like” and “What I like doing” don’t have to be the same thing!

What makes you come alive? Let me know and then GO DO IT!!

WIPs And An Interview

I’ve been doing a lot of behind the scenes work the past week. Tweaking my website, social networks and most excitingly: working on an awesome PDF project which I will be releasing within the next month or so. I’m super excited to share it with you, but I want it to be the best I can make it, so I’m not rushing it. I have this tendency to always want to do things quickly and yesterday NOW, so this is a bit of a learning experience, but it’s good.

In some exciting news, Kim from Craft Create Connect interviewed me on her blog! Feeling super excited (OK maybe I need a synonym for excited to stop overusing it?!!) and also honoured. So go check it out. You can read a bit more about me, the why behind my art and what motivates me.

I showed you some canvases I was working on in my previous post. These are intuitive paintings so there is no set goal or outcome, I don’t know when they will be finished (in some way they might never be finished!) until I call them finished. Here is some more progress on these two.

Green Abstract Intuitive WIP | acrylics on canvas board | www.iris-impressions.com @rrreow

Pink Abstract Intuitive WIP | acrylics on canvas board | www.iris-impressions.com @rrreow

I’ve been struggling with this process majorly. They sat untouched for about a week, until I felt the drive to go back to them and I did something simple but amazing: put some noise cancelling headphones on and played music. MAJOR IMPACT YOU GUYS!! The music was both inspiring and also kept me away from getting too much into my head with thinking ‘what to do next’ or ‘this isn’t very good’ and other inhibiting thoughts like that. I even did some dance moves. Don’t tell anyone.

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you’ll have already seen some progress on this girl & unicorn journal spread. I’m pretty much done but just need to work on the background now and maybe some text. I went from loving the sketch, to feeling doubtful about the initial painting, to loving it again now. Curious to see where this one will end up.

Girl & Unicorn WIP | mixed media in art journal | www.iris-impressions.com @rrreow

What have you been working on this week? I’d love to see! Comment below (you can use the comment luv under the text box to show me your latest post) or tag me on Facebook or Instagram to show me!

Practising Self Care

Practising Self Care | iris-impressions.com @rrreow

I want it all and I want it now! For years I was an extremely demotivated individual. Then I had a kid (and then another one) and I had some therapy and those things seemed to light something up in me. All of a sudden I wanted to DO stuff. And I have been doing stuff. Piling it on. I love having a busy life, being accomplished in all the things I decide to pursue, feeling alive and energetic!

I was getting away with this whole lifestyle for a few years. However, for about 2 years I think my body (and sometimes my mind) has been dropping some hints. I’ve been getting every minor illness under the sun (colds, stomach bugs, eye infections). First I blamed pregnancy while having a toddler at nursery, then I blamed lack of quality sleep with a newborn, then I blamed winter. Then I ran out of excuses and had to take a look at my life and think about the whole picture.

So I’m having a stern talk with myself and telling myself that it’s time to practise self-care! “Self-care?? What the hell do you need that for, just GO GO GO, you’re not allowed any rest or care! You need to do it all!” my inner voice goes. Through having this little ‘intervention’ with myself I’ve actually realised how hard I am on myself. How much I heap onto my plate and punish myself mentally when I can’t do it all, or can’t enjoy it all or when my body simply says STOP!

So I’m drawing back on all the peripherals. This has included a difficult decision to stop my violin lessons and to stop some volunteering I was doing. I’m really hoping to add these things back into my life when it is the right time. I’m going to be focussing on the three main areas of my life that are most important:

  • my kids/family (because LOVE!)
  • my art (because SANITY/FULFILLMENT!)
  • my business (because MONEY!)

Everything else is going to take a backseat for a while. I’m also going to try and add a lot more vegetables to our diets (when I’m feeling run down making home cooked healthy food is the first thing that suffers, which is obviously the opposite of what my body needs!) and add a daily walk to my routine. I’m also going to try more mental exercises to help my mind relax and be less GOGOGO all the time (that’s gonna be a toughie! I’ll report back on that one *wink*).

PS Interesting thing happened. I wrote this post a few hours ago and I’d been feeling quite down both physically and emotionally for over a week (ever since I got my latest illness, which was a triple whammy of tonsillitis, eye infection and cold) and ever since writing it I’ve felt SO much more positive! Wow!!

On Change – Motivation To Do Art

on-change-motivation

For years I have been in love with mixed media art and art journaling, but for the longest time I have suffered from some kind of creative paralysis. I would look at other people’s art or read mixed media books or watch art videos or buy lots of art supplies and get crazy excited and inspired. I might even attempt to do art myself but I always ended up disappointed. It wasn’t GOOD enough, I didn’t ENJOY creating it, it was a labour (and not one of love).

So I have a number of art works spanning from about 2008 until early 2013, but there are always big gaps in between. There is no thread, no consistency. When I look back at them I am far less judgemental than I felt at the time of creating them (“How crap! Why should I ever make art again?”), but there is still something lacking. Like they exist in a vacuum. Strange, disjointed one-offs.

Then in the summer of 2013 something changed. It wasn’t a lightning strikes or epiphany moment, but probably more of a gradual shift that culminated at that time. I can’t know for sure the exact reasons, but two things played an important part. The first was therapy. I started seeing a therapist towards the end of 2012. On a short term basis I didn’t notice anything, but as the months passed I slowly started feeling differently. More empowered, more in charge, less confused or clouded (sorry to be so vague! I find it hard to put into words!).

The second thing was having Zephyr, my second son, in June 2013. It gave me confidence, as stuff like that tends to do, but it also marked an important next phase in my life: the chance to start thinking about myself. What do I want, what do I want to achieve, who do I want to be? A sort of awakening after being solely in the ‘mother/pregnant’ role for quite a few years.

So it was in August 2013 that I started doing art, not necessarily every day (circumstances prevent that), but consistently and with joy. What a change! What a difference in how I feel towards it! I haven’t stopped since!

Now at this point in time I’m starting to get to a point where I actually quite like my art, I enjoy doing it, I feel confident about it and I enjoy the result. Sometimes the doubts set in though. As long as I’m in my art room creating art I’m fine. But then I visit some blogs and expose myself to other people and I’m like: SO MANY other people are already doing this, who am I to think anyone is interested in what I’m doing. There is no space for me.

Or I’m thinking about a video I want to do and then it’s like.. it’s been done before. And I KNOW that it’s never been done by ME and that I have a unique voice blablaba, but it STILL stops me in my tracks and makes me feel like everything I do is useless…

However, I am also counting my blessings and remembering the fact that a year+ ago my inner critic was preventing me from making any art regularly. I’ve got past that now. Yay progress! Currently it’s making me feel scared of sharing it or trying to carve out more recognition.. So maybe a year on from now… who knows.

I’d love to know if this experience resonated with you or hear your story if you’ve experienced something similar!

OMG You’ve Ruined It!

omg-youve-ruined-it

I have such a big fear of spoiling things. Either spoiling things for myself of a fear of external things spoiling things for me. It affects pretty much all areas of my life, for example I find it very hard to order off a menu, in case the choice turns out to be ‘wrong’ or disappointing.

Similar with art. What if this colour is the wrong one, what if this stamp makes things look ugly, what if I ruin the pretty face I’ve sketched once I add colour to it? It is so stifling as it always imbues the next thing with so much risk. I recognise that this is once again my fear trying to protect me from disappointment. If I don’t take the risk, I can’t ‘spoil it’ and can’t be disappointed (order the same thing off the menu every time… wait ages to create another art piece in case the next one is going to be super horrible).

I watched an art video by Tamara Laporte recently in which she draws with black marker pen on the face she’s just painted. My initial reaction is “OMG no! That’ll ruin it!”. Except, it turns out that actually it doesn’t. I learned from this.

  1. The next step is the next step. It does not inherently hold ruining power.
  2. If you don’t like it, you can paint over it. Mixed media is all about layers. The ‘flawed’ layer can become a building block to a more complex finished piece.
  3. Your latest art piece is not you. It’s an expression of you, but it does not personify you. If it is ‘bad’ (such a subjective concept anyway!), it doesn’t mean you’re destined to make ‘bad art’ forevermore.
  4. You’re allowed to practice. Make mistakes. ‘Ruin things’. You may not have created something you like, but you have learned about what you do not like. Next time it will be better.
  5. TURN THE NEXT PAGE AND MOVE ON!

Ahh fear.. my misguided frenemy. Thank you, but not this time please.