I’ve spent a lot of time with my fear. I call it by different names. Sometimes it looks like working on a different project. Sometimes it looks like cleaning up my studio space. Sometimes it looks like sitting on the couch watching tv and crocheting. Sometimes it looks like me spending too much time on social media. But there’s always an oozing puddle of fear languishing nearby waiting for me to fall in if I’m not paying enough attention to skirt it appropriately and do the scary task at hand.
My fear is always willing to tell me specifically that no one cares about what I have to say. That I will die in art obscurity because what I make is banal or laughable or unintelligible or all of those things. My fear is also pretty invested in moving the goal posts of whatever success I do gain so that I will get discouraged and quit.
And what I know for sure is that it doesn’t matter if the fear is right. All of those things might be true or might come true but if it’s a choice between those things being true (or not) and me making art, I’m going to keep making art. I’m just not going to stop.
Someone asked me for a critique this morning. We talked about what worked for her piece. I gave her a couple of pointers to try for the future. She was working small, 5 inches by 6 or 7 inches. Her work was pushing the edges of the page, straining for a bigger workspace. I encouraged her to work bigger if she had something larger. And she did but she was worried about working in a larger space. And I said, “You are worth it. Your ideas are worth it.”
I felt those words in my bones. I actually had to stop and take a breath. It felt like a note from my current self that I wish I could mail back in time to my younger self.
We women are encouraged to take up less space, with our bodies and with our thoughts and that translates to the work we do too. Trying to unlearn that garbage is the entirety of my personal exploration of my forties.
And so it delights me to encourage other artists. If what they are looking for is me to give them permission to dream and then seek out the means for the dream, I’m gonna do it. If all women are waiting for is permission to go do their art thing, I grant it. With much love and more than a little glee, I will say yes to your artistic endeavors because you are worth it, friend.
I will never get tired of telling a fledgling female artist that she is worthy of a bigger canvas. That her ideas are worthy of the largest canvas she can afford. That fear is an arbitrary limit that should be laughed at as you paint your way past it. Do the thing. Be awesome.
— Playing Misty for You since ‘72 (@mistyg) February 25, 2019