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Art Journal Every Day: Feel the Fear

from the Balzer Designs Blog: Art Journal Every Day #artjournal #artjournaleveryday

If you're new to Art Journal Every Day, there is a short introduction here.  All of the previous posts can be found archived here.  Remember, it's just ten minutes of nourishing your creative self every day!  No need to finish anything or even like it. If you've done some art journaling this week, use the hashtag #artjournaleveryday so that we can all take a peek.  Even if you're not on social media, you can see everything (from twitter, pinterest, instagram, and facebook) that uses that hashtag here. 

I was delighted by how many people commented on last week's post about finding your journal style.  I think it's something we all struggle with.  However, Janet's comments about her journey through fear, particularly resonated with me.  She wrote:

"The largest barrier to making art for me was FEAR. Fear that I am not doing it right, fear from the art world's labels of what art really is, fear that it doesn't look like the image I am using as a reference, fear that my palette doesn't match the teachers palette so I am doing something wrong, fear that I am wasting products, fear from the first time trying something new that it didn't turn out so i must not be any good, fear that no one else thinks it is art and fear that I will find out that the person who told me that I was not an artist and could not be an artist at 5 years old was actually right! All of these fears were barriers to art journaling and finding my own style. NOW, that I have discovered this about myself I can embrace what I love in style, color and techniques and just chose parts from each artist that I am drawn too. WHEN I ACKNOWLEDGED AND WORKED THROUGH THIS FEAR is how and when I found my own art journaling style."

Like Janet says, I think it's important to acknowledge and work through the fear.  So, that's today's topic: FEAR.

Perhaps by exploring the topic we can help to mitigate the effect?

The dictionary defines fear as:

  1. a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc.,whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.
  2. a specific instance of or propensity for such a feeling: an abnormal fear of heights.
  3. concern or anxiety; solicitude: a fear for someone's safety.
  4. reverential awe, especially toward God: the fear of God.
  5. something that causes feelings of dread or apprehension; something a person is afraid of: Cancer is a common fear.
  6. anticipation of the possibility that something unpleasant will occur: Having grown up during the Great Depression, he had a constant fear of running out of money.

Raise your hand if you've felt fear when making art.

I'm going to assume we all have our hands up.  I know that I do.  So, what can we do about it?

Here are six steps you can take:

  1. Admit it: It's okay to be scared.  It's okay to have fear about art making. So often we feel shamed (even by ourselves) for having complex feelings around creating.  The first step to overcoming your fear is to acknowledge it and say it out loud: I'm scared.
  2. Name it: It's important to be able to verbalize exactly what you're scared of.  Why are you feeling nervous about sitting down to journal?  Is it wasting supplies?  Having no ideas?  That it will be ugly?  If you can verbalize the problem, then you can start to solve it.  If you can't name the fear, it's quite difficult to overcome it.  If you're having trouble analyzing why you feel scared, try writing a list of possible reasons that come to mind.  No reason is silly or small.  All thoughts are valid and worth considering.
  3. Express it: This is why I write so much in my journal. Seriously.  I need to express my fears about life, about journaling, about being me.  I find that the act of writing is super therapeutic.  But we're all different. Don't like writing?  Color your fear.  Paint it.  Draw it.  Collage it. Rip it.  Art your fear.  
  4. Let go of control: Easier said than done.  But I think most of the fear we have stems from wanting it to be "just so."  Or wanting to do it "right."  Ask yourself: what happens if you get it wrong?  It's just paper and paint.  No open heart surgery today.  ;)  Seriously, though, why not answer the question: What happens if this is the worst thing in the world?  It's a bit like looking under the bed for the monster instead of assuming that there's a monster under there. 
  5. Take aim: What do you want to happen when you sit down to journal?  Don't just think about that.  Write a sentence or two on a piece of paper that describes exactly what you want to have happen.  For instance: I want to create colorful art that makes you happy when you look at it.  OR I want to draw a realistic horse. OR I want to use my new paints.  This act of setting a goal is helpful to reigning in fear because you have something concrete to aim for.
  6. Do It: I'm going to divide "do it" into three categories:
    • PRACTICE: If you want to draw a realistic horse, start practicing.  Don't just try once and say, "Oh, that didn't work. I suck."  Practice until you're not scared.  Every artist you admire practices and practices and practices.  As the old saying goes: "The expert has failed more times than the novice has tried."
    • LEARN: I don't know why it's such a point of pride to say, "I'm untrained."  Who cares.  I am always trying to learn everything I can.  Knowledge and experience are the keys to replacing fear, for me.  If you can't go to class, take a class on the internet.  If you can't take a class on the internet, read a book.  If you can't read a book, experiment.  There's always a way to learn.
    • AIM LOW: Try your hardest to art journal as badly as possible.  You'll either hit your goal or do better than you thought.  ;)  But seriously, if you take some of the pressure of yourself, you'll feel more successful. And feeling successful is part of driving fear back!

Fear is a normal and natural part of the art making process.  Don't let anyone fool you into thinking it's easy and effortless.  But, with a little bit of work and conscious effort I believe that everyone can overcome their arting fears!

Thanks for stopping by!