Many artists approach the world from a place of fear.
'Am I good enough? What if no one likes my work? Why can't I sell? I'm rubbish, aren't I! If I've not made it by the time I'm 30, I'm never going to. Picasso worked really hard every single day, what the hell's wrong with me? If I don't have lots of shows every year, they'll all forget about me.'
And so on and so forth...
I've been actively trying to get away from that angst-ridden headspace in recent months. But taking a step back from those ingrained fears feels like stepping off a mountain path in the dark. I don't know if I'll fall. Maybe there will be soft mossy grass under my feet or bouncy heather? Or maybe there's a 50ft drop!
My own first lesson in letting go of these Art Fears is to ignore the temptation to desperately apply for exhibitions in 2010. While applying for exhibitions can certainly be useful and necessary, I'm tired of it. If applying for exhibitions works for you, that's great. It used to work for me too. However, right now it makes me feel sad, pitiful, powerless and often quite angry. It makes me feel like a beggar outside the temple of art and I'm DONE feeling like that.
Naturally, if things come knocking on my door, I'll certainly consider them. I do still want exhibitions and other cool opportunities. Nor am I sticking my head in the sand: I'm still visible and active both off and online and I wouldn't rule out applying for something if it was perfect for me. But I've stopped pushing constantly. It's a difference in attitude.
Somewhat to my surprise, this new approach seems to be working, I've been offered several great opportunities lately including the ECCA talk in London last month and I'm taking part in this exhibition later this month. Yet it's still scary as hell to stop pushing. I want to believe that the Universe will catch me, that I'll be OK without all that frantic busyness but believing that goes against a lifetime of conditioning.
What are your Art Fears? Can you trust yourself enough to walk away from them? Can you step off a mountain with me? We could hold hands and jump...