Shushing the Gremlins of Fear

04 August 2010

Art is a journey. Some roads are smoother than others.

I used to struggle with a powerful Fear of Failure... it stopped me from finishing things...

Sometimes I still feel the fear seize me, in mid paint, I think "this is awful, I ruined it, just stop now before it gets any worse!" I used to put enormous pressure on myself to make every single artwork "perfect" from start to finish, perfect the whole way through... and because of that, I finished very little.

But now, even though the Fear of Failure gremlin whispers unsettling things to me, I keep pushing on, and I try my best to see the painting through to the end. If I had listened to those gremlins, and stopped making the paintings, you'd see about half as many works in my gallery.

The best way I found to overcome this artistically debilitating fear is simple :
Finish it. Even if it comes out "ugly" and "wonky" and "all wrong." Finish it

The more you push through the fear barrier, the more things you actually do finish,
the more you'll start to see how your work evolves, how your processes look as you go through the stages of work, and over time you'll begin to trust yourself and your process more and more, because experience will have shown you that you CAN make lovely art.

Most artworks go through "wonky" phases, where they look unfinished and weird... but don't despair! It is unfinished, so it looks unfinished... nothing wrong about that. Some artworks are late bloomers, and it may take them a little longer to find there way to "finished," but in the end, most of them make it there.

And so what if you "mess it up" ?! Sometimes art making is about the process, about the journey, about practicing and perfecting your skills, rather than making a "perfect" picture every time and all the time.

This is one reason why we doodle... a doodle doesn't have the expectation of "perfection," it's just free and goes with the flow, and sometimes it comes out looking awesome and sometimes it's just a big loopy mess. But does it matter? Nopes. It's a doodle, and doodles will do, just as they are. Well, import a little of that doddle-spirit into your journal, your sketchbook, and your canvases : and let the images evolve, let them emerge, let them be free, without the fear of "ruining" the page.

And so what if it comes out blotched and askew, and all mucked up... it's not as if you don't have another page that follows, and another, and another... You always have more pages, and more paints, and more images to create. Some of them will be beautiful, and some will be special in an ugly-fugly-messed up sort of way.

And you know what?! It's totally ok.


Romy said...

thanks a lot for share yours experiences, i just started to lose the afraid to do something no perfect!
thanks a lot.

pagan said...

Bonnie as you know I rarely finish anything - it's a phobia left over from my UNI days. It's debilitating and I truly struggle with it on a daily basis. Combined with all health issues and pain and drugs it's become a right ball and chain of frustration. I always feel I'm letting myself down and others because I cannot finish the things I commit too. Thank you so much for sharing this, it's inspiring and somewhat strange that we are so alike in so many ways.

*Big Sparkles*

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