The Capitol F Word

lighthouseI’ve been hearing it ’round the block lately from other artists – it’s the new goal for 2016: letting go of fear.

When I sat in the glare of afternoon sun on white snow January 1st, this is what I thought about. I am SICK of fear. Sometimes my fear is so debilitating that when I pick up a paintbrush, I can physically feel like I’m about to create some catastrophic event. I have to talk myself through it. No, Therese, no one is going to die if the colour of the little girl’s pjamas aren’t as perfect as you intended.

Over the years, this fear of not creating something as beautiful as I had imagined, and fear of creating something while not knowing whether it will turn into a massive failure, has progressed into such a stress that damn it, doing what I’ve always dreamed of doing as a career, is just not fun anymore.

It all went downhill when I started trading my art for money. For me, bringing money into the realm of creating, turns creating on its head. It’s very unforunate for an artist trying to make a living. There are all the fears: fear of not being good enough, fear of not being professional enough, fear of making work below client standards, fear of being an imposter and fear of self-worth i.e. who am I to while away my time in my pjamas messing about in paint while others go out in the world saving lives and feeding their children?

It’s interesting how making art for a living turns into making art for other people, and not making art for yourself. It’s interesting because call me selfish, but isn’t this why I started making art in the first place – because I loved doing it? It’s unfortunate that as an artist, you can’t just make money by creating something. Someone has to buy it in the end. If a nickel dropped clink! into my piggy bank every time I made a something! Then I could just give away the stuff for free! The work that is, and to hell with value.

I’ve taken note, reader, that all these fears are doubts. I’m thinking that the wonderful thing about doubt, is its double-edged sword. Fear your doubt, and it will hinder. Ride your doubt, and your creative process takes off. Because when you are sure, you create what you know, what you’ve already done before. In this case, you’re hindering yourself from creating something imaginative and inventive and exciting! (i.e. your best work). It’s like when that artist becomes successful and thinks that to keep his success, he has to keep creating what made him successful. (note: fear of not knowing how long his success will last i.e. doubt) And then you look at that artisit’s work and cluck, how derrivitive! What a bore!

To sum it all up nicely, this is how I do it now, for now. I put on my books on tape or my CBC podcasts, I wear very comfortable un-restrictive clothing and knitted socks, I drink my piping hot coffee, and I PRETEND. I pretend that all the work I’m doing is for no one else but me. I ignore all the irrational voices in my head wondering if I’m not good enough. I put all catastrophic events aside and I just paint. What happens next is I enjoy the process. I respond to my materials and the way water meets paint and my intuition and I are pals. And when it’s done, I send it out, and let THEM decide.