Don’t let fear stop you from creating! Fear is a very common emotion, but it can hold you back if you’re not intentional about pushing past it. Letting fear stop you from moving forward creatively would be a shame. Today, I’m sharing my 4 step process for pushing past fear and creating your best art yet. I get personal about my 2 biggest fears that I experience sometimes when making art.
What fears do you have regarding your art?
- Fear of failure
- Fear of rejection
- Fear of not being good enough
- Fear of success
I want to encourage all of you out there to push past any fears related to your art – good things will happen. You have something special to share with the world, and you can gain so much personally from expressing yourself creatively. Wouldn’t it be a shame if fear held you back from sharing your gifts with the world?
This is a different kind of episode than I’ve made in the past – if you liked it, would you please send me a note on Instagram? If you like it, I’ll make some related episodes in the future.
Hello, and welcome back to the Self Taught Artist Podcast. I’m Lauren Kristine, your host. First of all, I have to say, Wow! I have gotten so much love for the podcast over this past week. All of your messages and DMs on Instagram have been so encouraging to me. And I just love knowing that I have encouraged fellow creatives with this podcast.
Before we dive into today’s topic on fear and pushing through it, I wanted to share this review of the week. Today it comes from JB 765 on Apple podcasts. They said: “great information presented in a logical step by step manner. This was the first time I listened to her podcast and immediately subscribed when it concluded.” Thank you so much, JB, I am so glad to hear this, I really try my best to make these episodes useful and interesting and educational. And your review this week really touched me. So thank you. Another really cool thing about the Self Taught Artist podcast is that it has now reached 16 countries. What a milestone! I love all of my international listeners and just want to thank all of you so much for tuning in. Alright, now on to what you came here for.
Today, we are talking about a topic I think is incredibly important. We’re talking about fear, and how to stop it from getting in your way. I know the last few weeks, our episodes have been really focused on acrylic painting. So today’s episode is more broad. And it applies not only to all artists, all mediums, but all creatives. So let’s go ahead and dive in. I know firsthand, as a self taught artist, it can be really hard sometimes to keep going. I am reminded all the time that I did not go to art school, I don’t have some fancy art degree. And there are a lot of techniques that still seem out of reach for me and where my skill level is at. When I think about these things, it’s hard to not have fear start creeping into my brain. Does that ever happen to you?
My question is, What fears do you have regarding your art? Is it fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of not being good enough, or even fear of success? Here’s the thing about fear. It can stop you in your tracks. It can paralyze you. And it can convince you that you are not worthy, worthy of calling yourself an artist or charging a certain amount for your art when you sell it or even trying to paint at all are trying a new medium. How sad would that be? If you let fear hold you back? It’s important to realize that fear is completely natural. But letting it stop you from moving forward and creatively pushing yourself forward would be a tragedy. You, yes you, have a unique creative perspective to share. You are unlike anyone else on this planet, your collection of experiences, the way you make art, the way you approach colors, the way you express yourself, the way you hold a paintbrush even! Nobody else on the planet has the same combination of all these things as you do. You have something special inside of you, and it will shine through in your art, even if you can’t always see it in yourself.
So step one, when you feel the fear creep into your brain is to simply acknowledge that it’s there. We all feel fear in some way or another. It’s completely natural. So we have to embrace it and acknowledge it. For me, there are two things that tend to happen repeatedly. I’ll find that I don’t feel like painting. Or I find that I don’t want to post my art on social media. So first, let’s talk more about me not wanting to paint. If it’s a weekend afternoon and I’m sitting around the house with nothing to do, and I don’t feel like painting, I have to level with myself and acknowledge that I’m actually feeling fear and ask why. Usually, if I’m being completely honest with myself, it’s because I’m afraid that I won’t make anything good or good enough. And my painting session will be a complete failure. The fear in my brain says, “Well, if that’s the case, and I might fail, why should I even pick up a paintbrush at all? Why should I even get started?” That feeling sinks into my brain, and it manifests with me not feeling like painting or not feeling up for it.
If I’m finding myself shying away from sharing a piece on my Instagram account that I do actually like, well, I have to do the same thing. I have to pause, recognize I’m resisting sharing my work. And again, I ask myself, “Why?”, and I have to get down to the bottom of it. Most of the time, it’s because I’m afraid or I’m fearful that people won’t like it. Or I’m afraid that it’s not good enough to share. In both of these cases, when these feelings of fear surface, you have to acknowledge that the fear exists, that that emotion exists, it’s valid. And then you have to try to identify the root of the fear. In my experience, I’ve found that is probably fear of failure, fear of rejection, or fear of not being good enough.
Alright, so you’ve acknowledged that the fear exists. Now what? Well, step two, you thank the fear. Yes, I know that sounds a little weird. But have you ever heard of Marie Kondo? She is a Japanese organizer and lifestyle guru who took the world by storm a few years ago with her book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. She had this thing and it became her trademark where she tells people to thank their belongings, and then get rid of them. So if you were having a hard time donating those old clothes to charity, but you know, you never wear them anymore, and you don’t need them. Marie Kondo would tell you to practice gratitude, thank the clothes for their service, and then let go of them by saying thank you. You are respecting the spirit of the items that you’re letting go of with gratitude. Instead of getting rid of them with negativity or force, I actually recommend that you do the same exact thing with your fears. When they’re getting in the way of you showing up as an artist, or painting or doing whatever creative thing that you want to be doing, thank your fears. Your fears are there because they’re trying to protect you. And they actually have a positive intention. But they are no longer serving you. They’re getting in your way. So just say to yourself, “thank you fear for trying to protect me. But I’ve got this, I can do this.” So we’ve acknowledged that fear exists. We’ve thanked it and sent it on its way.
Now, step three, is you ask yourself, what is the absolute worst thing that could happen? Often you’ll find it’s really not as bad as we think it is. In my case, well, perhaps I don’t create a masterpiece today. But I will have gained some practice. I’ll be one step closer to my goal of being able to create that masterpiece I want to create next time. Or perhaps I put my work out there, and I share it, and I put it on social media. And you know what, someone doesn’t like it. Well, I like it. So who cares? And anyways, there’ll be behind their phone screen, I won’t see them not liking it. I’m not actually creating art because I want everyone to like it. I’m creating art as a form of my self expression. In my mission statement as an artist there is absolutely nothing there about trying to make art that everyone likes. Because well first, that is impossible. And second, when you try to please everyone, you please no one. Your work would become so generic that it would just blend in and probably be just a boring canvas. If someone doesn’t like my painting, in all likelihood, they will probably just keep scrolling on Instagram. Whatever! See, it’s not as bad as I thought it was in my subconscious and that fear had to be stopped in its tracks so that I could keep making progress as an artist and keep putting myself out there, because again, that’s the only way you’re gonna grow.
Step four, you probably could guess. It’s “just do it” and get started and get some momentum going. For example, if you’re not feeling like painting, just set a timer for 15 minutes and do something, anything for 15 minutes. I talked about this technique in my episode on getting creatively unblocked, I use this all the time! Just get started, scribble something, prime a canvas, make a practice doodle, whatever gets you going. I bet after the timer goes off, you’ll be a little more energized. And you might even want to keep going! I find the majority of the time, just that 15 minutes is enough to get me going. I also use this technique when I am avoiding doing housework and chores. What I do is the absolute same: I just set a timer for 15 minutes, and I get started and do something. Every time at the end of that timer, I’ve done so much in just that 15 minutes, I’m motivated to keep going. Even though I hate folding my laundry, and I hate vacuuming. The whole point of this step is just to get started and do something. When you do that you can celebrate your little wins, and feel progress. And know that it’s all going to a really great cause: making you the best artist that you can be.
We’re never done in our growth and our experimentation and learning. And so you have to keep facing your fears, pushing through them, so that you can get your art out into the world. I know firsthand when you do put your art out into the world, it’s like putting a piece of yourself on display. I pour my soul into all of my paintings, and each one means something special to me. Each Canvas, each painting represents me trying something new. It’s me stretching myself creatively, and pushing myself past the fear of failure to do more than I did last time.
What a pity it would be if I never got started painting! I think about this all the time when I feel fear. I think about that alternate universe: If I had let fear stop me from what I wanted to do. What would that world be like today for me? What if I had let my fear stop me from starting this amazing creative journey I’m on? I would feel less happy, less fulfilled, and certainly much more bored over the last few years. And not to mention, I would not have grown in so many amazing ways. My painting and drawing skills have improved a ton. I’ve learned so much about color, and materials and art. Yes, there have been plenty of failures and setbacks along the way, but they’ve all led me to really amazing growth that I would not trade for anything. And when I look back, those failures aren’t really a big deal. And I don’t think anybody notices them or is dwelling on them the way that I do. So I encourage you to look around your house, or look around your art space. Look at the amazing things that you have already created. Think of all the progress that occurred, just to get you to that point, and get you to where you are today. Yes, you can make that amazing art again, and you will each piece you make builds on what you learned in the last one.
You know, the same thing goes for this podcast. If I had let fear stop me from hitting the publish button, then I would not have reached so many amazing creatives out there and encourage them on their journey. And that would be such a shame. Practice makes progress. Let me repeat that. Practice makes progress! Just take one step in front of the other and I promise you, the growth will appear. You can do it. So put fear, comparison to others, and all of those negative thoughts out of your head and just do it. Make the art and do it for the journey.
You know, I can’t finish out this podcast episode without reminding all of you that my failure rate on art is really high. For every piece that I finish and love, I’d say there’s probably at least one that never made it past the finish line. It was painted over or just not something that worked out. Maybe I picked a weird color combination, or the technique just needed a bit more practice, it was premature. You cannot expect every piece to be a masterpiece. If it is, then you’re probably not pushing yourself hard enough. Remember that behind everyone’s perfect Instagram feed is a pile of art that did not work out. And that’s okay. It’s a badge of honor. And it’s just part of the process. So embrace it, don’t let it stop you.
I know tackling fear is a really big topic. And we only scratched the surface today. In my day job, I am actually a coach for entrepreneurs and business executives. And I know from that work that fear is incredibly common. And it manifests in so many different ways across all areas of life, in work, personal life, art and creativity. However, fear is not a very useful emotion, and you have to push through it to get to the good stuff. When fear happens, you acknowledge that your fear exists and is valid. You try to name the root cause you think the fear and you put it aside, you think about what the worst case scenario is and why it’s actually not that bad. And finally, you just get started and you start pushing forward.
I want to encourage all of you out there to push past the fear of creating and trying something new. When you push past the fear, and you don’t let it stop you, that’s when the good things will happen. Sometimes progress happens slowly, but it’s worth it. You have something special to share with the world. And you can gain so much personally from letting yourself express yourself and your feelings and your thoughts and your perspective of the world creatively. Wouldn’t it be a shame if fear held you back from sharing your gifts with the world?
That is all for today’s episode. If you liked this episode, please let me know so I can do similar ones in the future. Just as a reminder, you can reach out to me on Instagram at LaurenKristineaArt or on my website. www. Lauren Kristine art.com. Both are linked in the show notes below. If you have one minute, could you please leave me a review if you’re listening on Apple podcasts? It would mean so much to me. And it would help me reach other self taught artists out there. Until next time!
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