Knocking Fear on its Rear

I believe every artist or wannabe has faced the Demon Fear at some point. If you let it, Fear can keep you from doing any work, showing any work, selling any work. The fear of failure, of looking foolish, of being “not good enough” has stopped most of us in our tracks, sometimes even before picking up a paintbrush. Let me tell you some ways to knock fear out of your path so you can do what you really know you want to do. I will tell you this sermon is aimed right back at me as often as it is to you. I fight this demon every time I go to my studio. But remembering some very good advice has helped me overcome, to some extent, this Bad Boy.

The first advice I received was back when I was a weaver, and my friend wanted me to enter a juried show. I said: “No way am I going to do that!” Her response was, “What have you got to lose? What’s the worst thing that could happen?” I replied that I was afraid I’d be rejected. Her rejoinder? “So, what? If you don’t enter, the rejection rate is 100%!” I always think about that when I step out. When I decide to apply for a residency, enter a juried show, stick my neck out a little more than usual, I repeat that mantra: “What’s the worse thing that can happen?” Then I follow it with this: “What’s the BEST thing that can happen?”

Since I’ve been practicing this, I have gone places I’d only dreamed of seeing. I have done things I would never had thought I could do, and you can do that, too.

Let me give you one more example. A number of years ago, when I was just getting into painting and was REALLY reaching, I applied for a residency in Santa Fe. Imagine my amazement and delight when I was accepted! Two months in a beautiful gallery and studio on Canyon Road, rent free! Talk about fear! I had fever blisters for six weeks because my nerves were so on edge. Could I perform? Could I do work that would make me instantly successful? Would I be rich and famous when I came home? Would you like the truth? I did perform. I worked hard. But I certainly was not wildly successful. In fact, I’m pretty sure the owner of the gallery was disappointed in me. She certainly never showed any of my art in her gallery. In fact, because 9-11 occurred in the middle of my residency, I hardly saw her except when she came to her office to shout at her New York stock broker.

What did happen, though, was I found myself through my work. I painted “Come Home Soon,” my first mood painting and found that I could rid myself of doubt and fear, pain and sorrow, just by showing up at the easel. The painting sold, my first large sale, shortly after I returned to Houston. In fact, it got me a nice commission and made me feel like a “real” artist.

Many times since then, I’ve stuck my neck out, and you know what? You get a clearer view of what’s around the corner from that position.

So I say to you, put a face on that fear – give it a name – whether it’s Dicky Doubt or Harry Hurt, Freddy Fear or whatever you want to call it, face it and slap it down. What’s the worst that can happen? What’s the BEST? Just show up and do it. You may surprise yourself, and the world around you!

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5 Responses to “Knocking Fear on its Rear”

  1. Thank you for the kind words. I want my book to be an encouragement to all those who think they can’t accomplish something. Even if it is a baby step, we can all move forward – more baby steps and soon we are walking!

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  2. Good message here! Can’t be said too often. Basically, you are saying (in addition to “what’s the worst that could happen”!) face your fears- do what you are afraid of. only way to overcome them. Thanks for this – another wonderful picture – what can I say, one day the Santa Fe art lady will be saying she “knew you when”!

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  3. Your self-revelation in such a public forum is admirable, as well as the wisdom that you have to offer to us. I found it amusing that the “negative” opposing forces to releasing our creativity to the world are all masculine – bad boys, Freddy, Harry, et al!!! I can relate, and forever work on re-integrating! Thanks, keep it coming.

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  4. Thank you so much for subscribing, and supporting me!

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  5. Each day is better and better! Please keep showing up!

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