Thursday, September 9, 2010

Facing my fears

Don't know if I have ever openly admitted it here, but I really want to study art.  By study I don't mean take a class every semester and slowly dabble in learning new skills, I mean enroll in a degree program and be a real art student.  Why don't I?  Basically I'm just too afraid.  I know that when you are an art student a large part of the program is putting your work in front of your class and having the professor and other students critique it.  And that scares me to death.  I took a Community Education watercolor class about 10 years ago, and although I loved learning about that medium, I absolutely hated showing my work to the class.   And because it made me so uncomfortable, I didn't take another organized art class for years.  Instead I tried things at home so I only had to show people my successes.

But now that I am getting older (and I supposedly wiser), I realize that I have let my fear deprive me of a goal that I really want to achieve.  And now I have two choices--abandon the goal or stand up and face what scares me.  I really, really, really want to study art.  I want to learn how to draw and paint and sculpt.  I am even intrigued by the thought of being an elementary school art teacher or opening a studio where I teach art lessons for kids.  So the only real option is to be brave and move towards my goal.  The problem is that when I start to move forward, my heart starts pounding in rhythm to the obnoxious voice in my head that tells me I can't do it.  I start to think I'm too old and and just too untalented so why waste the money and time on something that I won't be successful at anyway.  I really hate that voice and wish I could figure out how to get it permanently evicted from my head.  But until I can figure out how to get rid it, the voice causes me to forget my determination to jump head first into the art education pool, and all I can allow myself to do is to slowly, and cautiously wade in. 

This semester is a perfect example of that.  I signed up for my Arts Metals class shortly after enrollment for fall semester opened.   And even though I was really excited about the class, I just kept thinking about how I needed to take a drawing or design class so that I could start checking off the prerequisites needed to take painting and sculpture.  I found a beginning drawing class that would fit in perfectly in my schedule, but I just can't bring myself to add it to my schedule.  In the end I decide to take a shorter drawing class offered as Community Education so that I can have some instruction and experience before actually taking the real class.  So it's a semi victory.  Sometimes baby steps are all that we can do.  But the goal is to keep moving forward so in the end it is all good.

Since my drawing class doesn't start until next month, my Arts Metals class is the only place where I have to face my fear of public critiques.  My professor had told us the first day of class that we would review our design sketches for each project, and that our final would be a showing and critique of all of our work for the semester.  This made me a little nauseous (am I a baby or what?).  Yesterday we had to show our sketches for project 1.   Towards the end of class he told everyone who had drawings to put them on the middle table.  Several people started moving immediately.  I just stood by my table for a few moments doing my best impression of a deer in the headlights.  But then I shook it off , picked up my sketch pad and laid it down with the others.  I looked around at the drawings of some of the other students, and listened to the reactions they were receiving.  It was encouraging, and so I opened my sketch book and showed them what I was thinking.

And guess what? I survived. My teacher said that several of my ideas would work very well. Several students made positive comments. And I learned that sharing our ideas help to make them better.

And since I am gaining an understanding of how showing my work to others will help me reach my goals, I'm ready to expand it to a larger audience.  OK, not a much larger audience since I know of only a few people who follow this blog.  But it could be googled, so the potential is there.  I'll stop rambling now and show you the ideas that I presented.   I can't wait to actually make one of these!

A spider in a web

A flower

Sunflowers and butterflies

I feel like I've put a small dent in overcoming my fear of public critiques and am actually looking forward to the other opportunities this semester will bring.  At least I am right now, when they seem far away and my heart isn't pounding.  But when that happens, I'll turn to some of the best advice there it.

Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.


Keep moving forward!

After all, some of the best life lessons come from Disney/Pixar movies, right?

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