Fear is Art's Greatest Enemy: A letter to myself and others

>> Friday, October 23

Success is the ability to go from one failure to another
with no loss of enthusiasm.
~Winston Churchill

Dear me (yes, oh dear me),

Two weekends ago you were wonderfully productive. High on your success, you sat down last weekend to complete another tiny pond painting and a larger landscape. But the beginnings of neither turned out how you envisioned. The values were all muted, the water didn't reflect, the trees looked like mud and the rocks like weird jewels, and you were crestfallen. You've not touched your paints since.

Fear has always been your greatest and often only roadblock on your creative path. Fear of failure, fear of ugliness, fear of being laughed at, fear of having to try again. Yet when you sit back and muse on this, you often end up laughing at yourself. So you messed up a 1.5"x1.5" piece of paper? Try again, silly! And your time was not wasted, you learned something--you learned what doesn't work. After all, when Thomas Edison was trying to figure out what to put in his lightbulb to make it glow, he tried over a thousand substances before he figured it out. He didn't give up, because with every failure he merely noted that he'd learned something--what doesn't work. It was just another step on the path to discovery.

Every day just try a little, push a little, paint a little, and you will gain a little. On the other hand, you could try much, push much, paint much, and you will gain much. But either way, always try, always push, always paint. Every day. At least a little.

Remind yourself of this: Failure is not truly failure, for if you are indeed humble enough to learn from your mistakes, then you merely did a lot of learning last weekend.

So cheer up, bucko,
and get your butt back to your painting chair. :)

2 comments. Leave a comment.:

Anonymous,  Oct 24, 2009, 10:14:00 PM  

Hiya Emily! I know these feelings so well (it's like you read my blog or something!!!! I think everyone is afraid of failing when it comes to something near to us like art. On a recent set of paintings I told my friend, "I've hated myself this whole time!" And it was because of finding the things that didn't work, and having to press on! I did a post on lessons from Van Gogh's letters, and also about a blind woman who paints on my blog recently, check them out...they are helping me through the rough patches! http://fruitsofthebloom.wordpress.com


Caleb and Emily Designs Oct 26, 2009, 9:43:00 AM  

I love Vincent Van Gogh, he is my favorite artist. Thanks for sharing, it's nice to know others are in the same boat! :)



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