Then I thought, no one but an artist will understand why this is daunting, everyone else will just stop reading because they won't be able to relate. Thinking again, I said to myself, "Oh no! everyone has those moments when they must decide to move forward without assurance that the step they want to take will result in a sought after objective." Maybe you decide that this job is no longer suitable and you must look for a new one, or go back to school. Or that you really need to go speak to that person and clear the air. Or take that first step into a new relationship, or end one that is not serving either party. How about the decision to go ask your boss for a raise? In other words everyone comes up against big (or not so big) challenges that are challenges because they require us to step away from what we are comfortable with, what we know we can do, or what we can "live with" and start some endeavor that has an uncertain outcome. We imagine that we might not succeed. And this, my friend, can cause fear to rise up. If we turn away because of that fear, no growth will occur.
At times like these I think of a mantra I first heard intoned by Jack Canfield,
"Feel the fear and do it anyway"
So back to my challenge. I had started some 9 months ago creating little (6 x 6") paintings of clouds. I started working on these really small (for me) canvases, in order to keep on working and to focus on consistency, something we witness everyday, as I was trying to cope with my fear of what would happen to our country after this last election.
Here are two examples of the little jewel like paintings I produced.
Being aware of how this works in the viewers experience, I wanted to employ this to my benefit as I create the painting.
The first painting, has a dramatic focus on light from the sun breaking through clouds in a deeply dark sky. The vantage point seems to be of a person looking up directly at the sky.
As I was working I made a decision to leave the bold gestural strokes in the lower right hand corner without any "finessing", breaking any three dimensional illusion created in other sections of the canvas.
In this one, the handling of the paint along the bottom of the canvas is left rough, reinforcing the two dimensional nature of the painting and contrasting with the three dimensional storm clouds.
The depth was developed through the application of layer on layer paint. I had a great time painting this one.
Willingness to say yes to a challenge, stepping forward with no assurance of success, is important for each of us.
If I can offer a simple word of advice on what might help you to feel your fears and do it anyhow, might I suggest meditation? ( I know you are surprised - I never suggest meditation!) Meditation works in a way that is similar to a form of behavioral therapy I learned about when I was an undergrad. Relaxation training occurs when a person who has been brought to a state of deep relaxation is encouraged to maintain that state of relaxation while thinking of a condition that normally causes fear or anxiety.
When sitting in meditation, this same condition can occur spontaneously. As one progresses in their meditation practice, repressed memories of hurtful experiences that you would prefer to not experience are sometimes brought to the surface. As you continue your meditation, sitting with the fear, anxiety or hurtful memory as you focus on your breath, your mantra or your sacred word, a healing takes place.
Later when you open your eyes and walk back into everyday life, this experience helps you cope with challenges that you might otherwise run from, as you are afraid of hurt or rejection.
I know if you are not an artist you will probably think I am exaggerating how fearful one can be of a blank canvas (of any size) and it sounds silly as I write it, but believe me it is real. It is so easy to continue doing what you know you can do because you have done it before.
I offer this suggestion, the next time you notice you are afraid of taking a step you truly think has the potential to benefit you, allow yourself to experience the fear, breathe through the fear in a calm manner and notice that all is well. Taking the step - is success in itself.
One final note, I suffered a severe injury to my back the first weekend in July. On this day mid September I am partially recovered but can not sit or stand for more than two hours before I need to go lie down. then I must wait a few days before I can return to what I was doing. Obviously this has been another challenge. Responding to the challenges of life with pain will be the subject of the next blog.