The Open Window: Behind the Fear of an Artist

Insights on Creativity by Quinn McDonaldInsights on Creativity by Quinn McDonald

When an artist comes to me and says, “I’m not really an artist,” I know the speaker thinks it is true. Maybe they don’t know how to draw well enough, or they are shaky on color theory. But most of the time that’s not what’s bothering them.

Over the years of listening to artists who are afraid, not good enough, not successful enough, here are some things I've learned. A heavy bag of blame is often hiding behind the scene and is the real thing that slows one down. Blame is like stabbing yourself in the heart a thousand times to hurt those who hurt you. It's not retribution if the other party doesn't care. All that painful stuff from your past made you the powerful, capable person you are today. Stop trying to fix it. Instead, teach yourself to use it to your advantage. It's not going away, you might as well make work for you. If you don't let the person who wronged you off the hook, you have to stand there and hold that heavy pole—reeling them in, playing it out, reeling them in, playing it out. Hint: there's a better way to spend your time. Put down the pole and pick up your brush, brayer or stencil.

If it's not inside you, part of you, it isn't yours. That includes happiness, peace, and joy. None of those come in a shopping bag, they are born in your heart. The things we hate about ourselves are often our best characteristics turned up too loud. Don't pull out your faults by the roots. Tone them down till you can see the gift in them.

Check out some of Quinn's previous blog posts: The Open Window: Leveraging Your Day Job for Your Art Life The Open Window: First Aid for Creative Injury The Open Window: The Placebo Permission Slip Quinn McDonald is an artist and certified creativity coach who helps artists through transitions in their lives and work. You can e-mail your business-of-art questions to QuinnCreative@yahoo.com. Quinn is the author of Raw Art Journaling: Making Meaning, Making Art (North Light Books). Raw Art Journaling

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