Saturday, 2 October 2010

Self-doubt: It Has Been a Hell of a Week

Artist hell.

You already know that I have been struggling with the beginning of my new series.

On Monday I went and met with a precious mentor of mine and amazing artist, James Guppy.

After a cuppa tea and telling him what I am working on, he gave me some advice. It wasn't comfortable but it was valuable. He pointed out that I am still struggling with some of the same issues I was talking about nearly a year ago - but obviously still haven't fully confronted. Issues of technique. He is english and very polite and always gives his advice gently and with respect.

He suggested lots of experimentation. Many quick studies with a time limit of 20 minutes. So I spent Tuesday gessoing cards and rethinking what I want to paint.

Wednesday I got my hair cut (remind me to show you. I have it short, short, short now.)

Thursday I went into the studio and was... crippled by self-doubt. It came in waves. Waves of self-doubt and everything-doubt. It took constant effort not to give in. To ignore it. Not repress the feeling nor debate with the thoughts, but to simply not listen. I still felt the debilitating lack of confidence but I ignored the message. You know what I mean? When your thoughts are telling you that your ideas are stupid. That you will be humiliated.

This is so loud that it has disconnected my ability to evaluate my work. I can't get past it. So I am not trying. I have done my early morning note taking, the way I get messages from my guides. I think I know what I want to paint, so I am just going to go ahead and do it. Not knowing if it is stupid, if it will be crap. Just trusting that my powers of evaluation will eventually return.

I said to a dear friend today. "I think I know what I want to paint, I just don't know whether it is a crap idea. I have this feeling that even if it is stupid, I need to do it."

My dear friend said "you need to follow your soul".
That might be it.


PaperPumpkin said...

You Do need to follow your soul, your inner artist instinct. You have this gift and it needs to come out! i LOVE your work, Zom.

lilasvb said...

follow your soul, for sure and don't forget to show your new haircut

eva said...

I've come across a book on Shelfari that you might be interested in, it's called Art & Fear by David Bayles- I haven't read it yet, but those who have says it's really good. I can't wait to get my paws on it as I struggle with The Fear as well.

This is the link to the book on Shelfari, you can see what people have to say about it there:

Inkpunk Artworks said...

I can relate...I think all of us can relate.

The fact that you are putting your struggles out there and out in the open, is part of the process. Try not to fight it, and you will have a wonderful "ah-ha!" moment. I promise!

Your work is awesome!

Enjoy your weekend,

Zom said...

Thankyou PaperPumpkin.

Thanks for the reminder Valery, I will have to get a photo, haha

Eva, I have the book! But haven't read it (obviously).

Inkpunk, thanks for the kind words -and I am so glad you like my work.

I am back in the studio and still terrified. I reckon I get kudos for courage anyway, teehee.

Mary Helen-Art Saves Lives said...

The murmurs of your heart and soul are the only truth...short play exercises and 20 minutes sessions to express yourself and then let go...Imagine and Live in Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

susan christensen said...

Dear Zom, I know every artist worth our salt rides this same roller coaster. The only cure, as you know, is to go on making (as if you had a choice about that anyway)! By the way, I am half way through reading Art and Fear myself, and finding it real insightful. Thanks for your honesty!

ines said...

hey Zom

over from CED, I love your work! I can't relate to what you write about because my work isn't in your league but more like the-children-crayon-drawings devision. But I do understand self-doubt. I am learning to embrace those moments as part of my journey and moments to reflect and appreciate what I have, who I am, what I do.

Peace to you


Sandy Coleman said...


I agree with your friend. Follow your soul. It knows you best. Thank you for sharing this struggle that we all faced. Art is hell, but worth the fire. Keep going. :-)

Cynthia Eloise said...

your friend is right. do what feels good. paint from the heart, forget the notes go with your gut. you'll feel so much better.

nollyposh said...

~Thankyou~ DD ...for your doubts are my doubts and your solutions are pathways for me too...

Perhaps it is Time for us to just Be and Allow and Enjoy... For Art should essentially be a Joy... Maybe then ~Grace~ will visit with us again... xox

Zom said...

Thanks you guys. It really helps to hear this stuff. xox

Karin Bartimole said...

oh that crap self doubt. yes, i do know what you mean. it's been haunting me in various ways lately, too. I'm trying to let it lead me deeper into the learning i need to do, to shed it for good! the problem with it is it can cast a shadow over the soul, making following that oh so wise soul harder to do - so a good shove to self doubt, and a warm hug to soul. your art will follow and shine, i'm sure. it already is, i'm loving the sketches :)
xo K

Karin Bartimole said...

oh, and Art & Fear is a very good book, as recommended above!

jasminduft said...

I was just going to comment on your journal entry and say that I love the drawing of the undecided girl. She's so lovely! I love the colour combination too and I totally agree that the most important thing is to do work that you relate to. (Personally I sometimes care too much about what other people think of my work and that tends to crush my creative freedom.) But then I ended up reading the whole post and so I have to add that I think your friend is right. You need to believe in yourself. I don't know if you believe in God and in His plans for you, but if you ask Him which way to go, I'm sure the Holy Spirit will give you the best advice. Anyway, you won't know how good your idea is until you put it into practice. What if it actually surpasses your expectations? You'll never know unless you try. (Somehow Robin Silverman's book "The Ten gifts" just came to mind. There's a chapter there on one's fears of things turning out better than one's expectations, one's fear of success). So, to sum it up, have faith (in God and in yourself)!