Facing fears

I had signed up for the first drawing class I had taken in over a decade back in 2007.  I was surprised at the results I had from the class and remembered how people used to consider that I was good at art, waaaaay back when. When I told one of my friends of my class, she said, “You’re brave!” I was puzzled at her reaction – brave? It’s a class that anyone can take!

Yet, signing up for these most recent art classes, I was extremely nervous. I felt so behind (who I was comparing myself to, I don’t know). Especially for my life drawing class, as I have never attempted to draw the human form. In the art supply store closest to my house, there are a series of little information articles posted around the shop. The titles caught my eye:

Myth: You have to be talented to be an artist.
Myth: It’s easier to draw small when starting out.
Myth: You should learn to draw before you learn to paint.

I felt reassured by something that challenged self-limiting beliefs I held, and also that others wondered and thought the same way. A recurring theme in these articles and in my art classes, is discussing fear, how we are overly critical of ourselves, and the limitations of making a three dimensional object, two dimensional. And most importantly – though it sounds corny and new age – my teachers talked about how everyone was on their own personal journey in improving ourselves, and that we had a voice and style of our own that could be expressed. I had no idea it was such a common fear, to be scared of making a mistake on a piece of paper. At the art store, when I was picking up a sketchbook, I got into a conversation with one of the staff who said that if he feels “blocked” by the pressure of a blank piece of paper in front of him, he puts down a scribble “to show the paper who’s the boss.” I do feel normal knowing that I’m not alone.

It makes for long days having class 3 nights a week (and then weekends filled with doing “homework” and projects), but despite this, I feel energized! Time flies by when I get engrossed and completely involved in working on a piece. This is how it’s supposed to feel, isn’t it? Being refreshed and renewed from doing something that doesn’t feel like a chore, something that I look forward to. I actually feel more confident about myself too – I never expected that something as simple as making marks to paper would have this effect. I know I have a long ways to go still, but I hardly feel that it’s “work”. Now, if I can make a living doing this somehow…

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