Are You Afraid to Paint? Chicken?

Yankee Doodle Dandy 2 July 17 2012 8 x 10

Playing Chicken – Watercolor on Arches

“Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.” – John Wayne

Volumes have been written about fear’s effect on our actually succeeding in art. I probably have read them all; yet, I am still not sure what scares us about painting. Honestly, I don’t think that it is even important. While wasting everyone’s time soap-boxing on the paralyzing nature of fear is not in anyone’s best interest, others might also benefit from the wisdom of the old cowboy John Wayne, who encourages us to just get over ourselves and saddle up anyway.

Over the years, I have discovered that the only way that I can deal with my own fear of failing in art is to merely stick to some kind of schedule.  When fear has me in its grip, I don’t have a burning desire to paint or draw.  I have the desire to be good in art–and to experience that joy; but my desire can be smothered by my less productive days in the studio. We can’t allow ourselves to be deterred by those bad days.

I think that if we are totally honest, we’ll have to admit that we love the high that we experience when we paint or draw something well–and when we paint again, we are seeking another high.  Art becomes our fix–but doing art is not as reliable as a chemical. Sometimes we don’t like what we paint or draw and that is not an upper–it is a total downer. We just have to move beyond the less euphoric experiences and continue to paint anyway.

We can’t expect art to be a constant high; and we can’t just sit around and wait for the high to return–without actually painting.  If we want the best results, we’ll paint daily, in spite of ourselves.

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” – Zig Ziglar

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