So where to start?
The only adult way possible – with fear. Isn’t that the way of things? Isn’t that what drives us most of the time?
The blank canvas mocks. It says you are unprepared and unworthy. That things will turn out worse than you thought, so why even start?
Fear rules so much of what we do.
I went into art college with a desire to create art and I left with an absolute phobia. Perhaps it was that one instructor (not even one of mine) who said “You will never be more than a Sunday painter.” Why can I remember that verbatim when I can’t even generally remember all of the wonderful encouragement I received. Perhaps though, it was that implied expectation that you needed to not just be good, but great – to be avante garde and make a unique and outstanding mark in the art world.
The only time I have functioned as a productive artist in my life was a four month sabbatical in Japan over 20 years ago. I was given the freedom to not have to worry about money or arranging housing, food, travel or the exhibition or sale of my paintings. I was given the freedom and the expectation to do nothing but paint. And paint I did. 40 oil paintings and numerous watercolours in that time.
And the paintings at the beginning? They were quite terrible. Truly, believe me, they were. But I had to paint, both from inside and outside compulsion. And gradually the work became better and eventually it was really quite good, garnering me a solo exhibition as well as a spot in a juried show.
So what was the secret to getting there? Just doing it.
I recently read an experiment where a sculpture class was divided into two groups. One was told that their whole mark was dependent on a single piece. The second group was told that their mark depended on the weight of the clay they used. The more clay they used, the better their mark.
Which group produced the better work? Come on – guess!
Of course it was the weight measured group, because they didn’t fuss and fume over a single piece of art – they just created with abandon!
So how do you deal with fear? I’m writing this blog, am I not?
And the place to begin?
And begin again.