19 Jul 2010

Thoughts from the Garden

I often go to sit in or wander around my garden when I want to think about things. Although we're near a busy road I automatically filter out the sounds of the traffic nowadays, and the sounds and smells of the garden come through in sharp focus. It must be this that helps me focus my thoughts.

I was thinking about something that one or two of us had mentioned on the EDM forum in the last couple of days which was about the fear of doing art. It seems I'm not the only one who spends a lot of time thinking about what I'm going to put onto paper, reading about the various methods available to me, deciding which medium would be best and generally prevaricating. I now know prevarication for its real name - fear.

Once I've decided what I'm going to sketch or paint, I spend a lot of time visualizing it in my mind's eye. I can see every nuance of every hue I'll use, each mark I'll place on the paper to form the composition, and exactly what the finished piece will look like. Naturally, it's beautiful, colourful, perfect in every way. And all the time I know that it will never look as good as my imagination has painted it. So I put off starting, think of something else I should be doing; clean the cooker, tidy up my painting materials and put all my drawing pads in a neat pile, take Misty for a walk. Anything that will put off having to put that first mark on the paper. Because if that first mark isn't absolutely perfect the whole thing will be a disappointment; no good, rubbish, fit only for the recycling bag.

And that is what my fear is. I recognize it for what it is and I know, without a doubt, that if I get rid of all that angst and just get out a pen, pencil, paintbrush, marker pen - whatever - and go for it without thinking about it, then even if I do consider it to be rubbish at the end it will have been a step towards being able to produce something worthwhile one day.

But how to get rid of the fear? The answer lies in the garden somewhere, I just know it.


  1. I think there are as many methods of conquering the fear as there are people who experience it. For me, finding a way to just do Something, Anything, can be helpful. Drawing a zentangle sometimes works for me; recently I did a couple of drawings with my non-dominant hand (no expectation that it will be any good there!); drawing people in a mall or coffee shop (since they keep moving, I don't expect myself to capture them perfectly), are all little tricks that can get me started. BTW, I have a rather large library of art/craft books ranging from drawing, watercolor, embroidery, knitting, collage, beading, .... get the picture? I read about it a lot rather than doing it. But, I'm coming out of a slump slowly .... you can too! nancy

  2. Perfectionism, a word that I know only too well! It started in my teens really. I would rewrite an entire essay if I made even one mistake. What a waste of time and effort! (I can say that now!)

    When my bouts with it become too large, I take a piece of paper from my scratch paper pile (pages printed on and didn't want to throw them out). Then I take a pencil or ballpoint pen (all of these are very cheap of course) and I start drawing. Line drawings, tonal drawings. Whatever comes. And because this is just cheap paper, I know that I can throw it out if it turns out badly. There is no risk. Then, when I'm feel brave again, I go back to the good stuff.
    A lot of people would have a problem with this, but it helps me to get past the fears, and that is the most important issue for me to face!

  3. Nice to read from you ladies the things of my own heart! I too started getting the ball rolling with zentangles....and I am also working on drawing in a very cheap sketchbook so I don't feel like I'm wasting anything. I usually draw my zentangles on other cheap paper, like computer paper that has a flaw in printing on it, I turn it over, and use that paper that would have just been recycled.

    Sometimes though, I draw something I really like, and WISH I would have done it on a much better quality paper...something I might frame. I need to move over to some better quality something..soon! I think after I get back from my trip this Week leaving Thursday evening, until Sat night...So NEXT week, I'm going to do something...ANYTHING with better material!

    I am thinking I need to design a blog header too, like Paloma mentioned in the EDM group. I think I'll be pondering about that this week.

    We can all do this!

  4. the trick is to make the first mark. do it quickly and without thought. the rest will follow more easily.

  5. Hi Paloma, I see the fear as a hump I have to climb over as I start a project. I think of it is a normal part of the creative process. I try not to let it stop me but realize that beginning will be a chore, but it becomes much easier once it is rolling along. Also, the more I expect from myself, the less I want to sketch, so I give myself permission to make mistakes and learn from them. Btw, I really like your new header!

  6. Great topic. Much though we'd all love to lose the perfectionist part of ourselves it remains a recurring challange, doesn't it?
    LOVE the new header!

  7. Your new header looks great Pam and loads quick..always a good thing!
    I think the fear of making a mess of things and losing confidence is what it's all about, but the only way to get better at what you do is to keep on drawing/painting/creating it's the only way to improve...messing up counts as part of the learning process. Good idea to use a cheaper sketch book to get your ideas down and for practice, but then if you find you've done a drawing your really like re-do it on better paper, maybe even improving it!

  8. You can't get rid of the fear. You just have to accept that you feel scared and then it isn't so bad. Acknowledging a feeling is the quickest way to lessen its intensity. And obviously the more you do the less scary it gets! So making a habit of daily drawing will also help tremendously long term.

    'There is no such thing as a fearless artist'. That's a quote from art and fear - a book I highly recommend.

    I like your header - looks great!

  9. I came back to see your new header, which is fabulous! I love it!

    I really like the line that Cathy said: "I think the fear of making a mess of things and losing confidence is what it's all about". This is all too true. After my self-portrait #7, I been moped around the house, feeling a little insecure because it didn't turn out. But yesterday I decided that I needed to do another self portrait, and this time I needed to take it less seriously and try to have some fun. I LOVE the outcome. It isn't perfect, I made mistakes. But, there is just something about it that makes me smile. (I haven't posted it yet, but will sometime today.) So it only goes to prove that you have to jump in and do it!
    Seeing all these comments is really wonderful for getting through the down times. Today, I guess, it was Cathy's comment that really hit home for me.

  10. The new banner is right on!

  11. Thanks to everyone who commented on this post and my new blog design. I really appreciate all your wonderful comments.

  12. I love your new header. I think I am going to have to do some tinkering in blogger to see what I can do to freshen up mine.


  13. Worrying about the end result is common, but I try and enjoy the process and the feel of the materials. Other than that, the best of advice is to just do it, like many people have already suggested.:)