the artist's notebook










the creative life

creative issues

learn to paint

inspirational artists




variations on a theme


All artists experience fear, yet fear is the opposite of creativity.

We all have our own list, incuding:
 Fear of doing bad work.
 Fear of not having ideas.
 Fear of being a failure.
 Fear of our art being ridiculed, criticized or misunderstood.
 Fear of trying new techniques or materials.
 Fear of changing direction in our work.
 Fear of ...

So, we procrastinate. We make excuses. We do anything but the work.

Why? Aren't all these fears simply the fear of making a mistake?

Even the most brilliant and well known artists have made mistakes. Did you ever go to a museum that boasts of having a painting by your favorite artist, only to find that the piece is a minor work you have never heard of? Any full time working artist has produced hundreds of lesser, often badly done works.

I had read, but cannot find the source today, that when Georgia O'Keefe died, her will stipulated that 42 maticulously hand chosen paintings were to be given to her favorite museums, with many others to remain out of the public gaze. Why not distribute all of them? Because O'Keefe felt some of her work were not her best, and did not want to be remembered that way.

Michaelangelo, who we all know did the incredible Sistine Chapel as welll as the mesmerizing statue of David. David has been considered an amazing feat, both because it was carved out of one huge piece of stone and because it is so anatomically correct. But, wait! Did you notice that David's right hand is out of proportion? It is too large for the rest of the body. Hmmm.

So, well known artists have made lots of mistakes. Or, maybe we should use the terrms "experiments" or "works in progress." The famous Mona Lisa took Leonardo da Vinci between 4 and 12 years to complete (depending on what source you believe). He just kept making corrections and putting on glazes until he was happy with it.

Ah, mistakes. Along the way I have thrown out about one third of my paintings. So what! Every single one of them taught me something. If you start with too dark or too light a background, you will have trouble with values within the subject. If you put down muted colors, you will not be easily be able to increase their intensity. Red pulls the eye. And so on.

So, what if we think of creating as an adventure? Let's get out those art supplies and try some experiments. Do the work for yourself, not for any other eyes. Just have fun. Take note of what works and what doesn't. Whether the finished piece is incredible or not, you have put in a good day in the studio making stuff. And THAT is what creativity is all about!

“I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”
---Thomas Edison,
when asked about his many failures while inventing the electric ligh tbulb