The book “Art and Fear”, by David Bayles and Ted Orland, held words that I held onto so closely as an art major. More recently, I have found that the concepts in this book parallel to all areas of my life. I talked in an earlier art post about one of the ideas played in this book. It discussed how 90 percent of art is redoing your very first pass, this means that once you have covered your canvas entirely, you are only 10 percent of the work in. This is equally liberating and maddening, which I deep further into in this post..
Another Idea that was discussed in this book, an idea that being an art major taught me to accept, was the ‘fear of doing’. I would consider myself a perfectionist, as I find some girls who compete in this organization are as well. But while this attribute can make us work harder and not allow ourselves to settle, it has a way a being a big downfall for me as well. I have caught myself far too many times being terrified to even start a project out of fear of failure, out of the fear that I won’t like what I create, and that others won’t either. Too terrified that I will be embarrassed by what shows on the canvas. But beyond my art, I have seen this happen in my every day life. Being too scared to start a conversation out of fear to sound unintelligent. Too terrified to pick up a new hobby out of the fear I won’t be good at it. Too timid to run with a group of friends in fear that they will laugh at how I run like the most uncoordinated human alive. How many moments have I missed out on soley because I was too anxious of the outcome? What kind of life does that lead, and what kind of mindset grows from this practice?
Our minds are trained to have this “survival” mindset, however in modern society they tend to lead us into timid lifestyles anxious of silly outcomes. So how do we change this? To say we follow Nike and “Just Do It” seems far to cliche. And if we are being honest that mindset works out when it is being chanted in our brains, but very rarely does it transfer as truth in our hearts. I believe this change comes from something far deeper, dealing with what the fear stems from. I also believe this is different for everyone. In my life I have found I had/have a desperate need to please people.
Seeking the approval of others was something I craved from a very young age, but was not something I confronted until I realized the effect it was making on my everyday life. Recognizing that so many of the fears I had stemmed from the fear that people would not accept me or like me was a process, and is something I am still facing daily. Recognizing this innate need for approvable was the first step in a less fearful life. However, there is something important I must say, changing your brain out of the thought patterns of fear is a journey that takes as much time, or even more time, as it did to make your brain think that way in the first place. If we don’t start putting this into practice, pretty soon we will have our old fears on our new days. But recognizing this way of thinking is the very first step in being able to face this fear head on, to test it. Again, equally liberating and maddening.
One of the things I love about art is how the lessons I learn in getting frustrated with a painting can become the same mantras that lead me in all other struggles that I face. Therapeutically, every time I pick up a pencil or a paintbrush I am able to deal with these same ideals about life.
Photos by my best friend and mentor, Brooke Robinson.
One of the coolest parts of my junior year was creating a piece that combined my love for dance with my love for art. However, something some of you may not know is that I was not an art major at first. I was actually quite terrified of declaring a major in art, nervous of what other’s perceptions would be of me for not having a “normal” major. (I put ‘normal’ in quotations for how are things scaled as ‘normal’, where is that standard really held?) However, my freshmen year of college I found myself drawing and painting every night until three in the morning, that’s when I knew I was in the wrong place.
I’m a believer that we are all given gifts, and that we are suppose to find what sets our soul on fire and use these gifts to be a light. Especially now, we have a duty to find what our gifts are and to love people with them. So here’s to praying that we see our fears merely as distractions from what we are truly called to be doing.
To art and fear.
So much love,