Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Overcoming Fear And The "Perfect Picture" In Our Minds

Do you have a muse? A completely imaginary but totally real artistic influence that gives you courage and encouragement, tempts you to try new things and takes you to places you never would have gone on your own (either in life or in your artwork)?

I do! Her name is Sam and I've spoken about her on the blog before. She is as real to me as you are. I can describe how she looks, how she sounds, how she cuts her eyes at me when I say or think something limiting. 

By turns, she is daring, naughty, laugh-out-loud funny, fearless and kind. She doesn't ask for permission and she doesn't really give a hang about anyone's opinion, including mine. Maybe most especially mine. Simply put, she is the best of me and the best of what I'd like to be.

I can also hear her needling me about being too careful or convincing me to jump off the proverbial high dive board and how, quite often, she challenges me to keep going on a piece of art that I would likely abandon because it’s not going in the direction I intended it to go  it doesn't look like the "perfect picture" in my mind.

Seashells By The Seaside is one of those pieces. I can tell you from the very first mark I put on the page, I knew I was in "trouble" because it didn’t go where I meant for it to go, it wasn't going to match that "perfect picture" in my head. 

And I was working in permanent pen. Oops. 

As the page progressed, I continued to go down a path I did not mean to. It was taking me further and further from what I had in my head. While I was toying with the idea of starting over, Sam came over, pulled the pen out my hand and shooed me out of the way. 

Sam’s working theory on art, and life too, is this: There are NO mistakes, just new and different directions. When I’ve completely botched the original idea (read that as, “no longer held hostage by preconceived notions"), it's time for the fun to begin and to see where we can go! She’d also be yelling, “Yeehaw!” as she raced off with my our idea, but that’s her.


Needless to say, this piece of art is NOTHING like I had in mind when I started. It looks nothing like that "perfect picture" I had in my head.

Is it better? I can’t say. What I can say it that it’s different and rather than assign an arbitrary value to the artwork being good enough or better than, I decided to simply enjoy the work as it turned out.

We often cobble ourselves by focusing too much on the image in our minds rather than using it as a guide. When we make a mark on the page that doesn't sync with the perfect mind picture, we react to it as if it were a mistake but is it? 

What do you suppose would happen if instead, we took it as our "true voice" (read that as "muse") speaking up and making itself known? 

Our fears of making mistakes, of wasting time and resources, of others' opinions can take away our true voice and bog us down in a rut doing the same thing—safely—or keep us from experimenting with a new or different way of doing things.

In hindsight, making marks that did not work with my "perfect mind picture" was a gift of freedom. It allowed me to kick the idea to the curb and start fresh. What you see above is what happened when I let myself play. 

If you're in the Bradenton/Sarasota area, I hope you can join me at Keeton's Office and Art Supply on Saturday, September 24th, from 9 to 12:30 as I delve more into the process and overcoming those pesky fears. For more info, please click here

How do you get past your fears? What do you do when your work and your "perfect mind picture" part ways? Do you stop and start over or keep going?