Every time I sit at my studio table, stare at a blank canvas or page in an art journal, I feel the dark, dank tendrils of fear slithering up my spine. They scurry throughout the dendrites of my brain, plump with their insidiously sour whisperings about why I must stop. Now. Before I prove my worst fear true: I am inadequate to the task.
And every time I put paint brush to canvas or word to print or complete any task I set out to do fearing I can’t, I beat back fear.
Painting has taught me, I must feel the fear. See. it. Acknowledge it even. And then, I must transform it through taking action.
It doesn’t matter if the action leads to a ‘masterpiece’. What matters is, I stepped into the fray, faced my fears and forged on.
Creativity is the art of facing fear down with action. Action that takes you into the very territory fear is trying to keep you out of. Your fear of facing your magnificence, your beautiful self expression of your soul’s calling to be witness to all of life. Your fear of moving beyond your comfort zone. Of facing your fears, and the world. Your way. Wild and Free.
Perhaps, that’s what makes one person dive into their creativity while another will insist they don’t have any – the willingness to face fear again and again and again and still keep going.
Perhaps, it is our definition of ‘creativity’ that needs to expand so that we can all see how inherently creative it is to be human.
I have a friend who constantly says she is not creative, even though she is a marvelous cook, seamstress, friend. One of the things she does that always strikes me as an expression of her creative nature is to make beautiful meals for friends in moments of distress. She artfully packages each meal up with flowers and a beautifully penned note of support and delivers them to her friends in need. Yet, when I point out this is another viewpoint of creative expression, she brushes off my assertions with a, “That’s not very creative. It’s just what friends do.”
“Don’t you worry about intruding on their grief or pain?” I ask. (I have a fear of intruding when people are in moments of distress.)
“Sometimes,” she replies. “But I also know how much comfort someone feels when a friend turns up at their door with a gift of food and flowers when the last thing they can think about is what to make for dinner. So I do it anyway.”
See. Facing fear with action to create beauty, comfort, and ease in the world around you.
Yesterday, a friend picked up one of my paintings he’d purchased. One of his comments touched me deeply. “I love your art,” he said. “It’s so peaceful.” (Thank you BC)
I have never thought of my work as ‘peaceful’. Yet, when he said it, I felt the peace that consumes me when I face my fear of the blank canvas and lay down swathes of color and texture. Perhaps, that is what my friend sees and feels – the peace and joy within me, expressing itself outward onto the canvas.
The great Russian abstract painter, Vassily Kandinsky said, “Color is a power which directly influences the soul.”
I paint with color. It is an expression of my soul. It soothes my mind, my body, my being present.
It calms my fears and, even though I hadn’t realized it before, it stirs my courage awake. Awakened, I beat back fear. Not with angry words and protestations against its presence. But with the most loving, kind thing I can do for myself. Get creating.
And while I often don’t know where I’m going with a painting until I get there, the fastest route to get beyond my fear to find out where I’m going, is to let the colors lead my body into self-expression.
So thank you BC. Not just for your friendship and support of my work, but for your words. They touched me deeply and bring me great joy. And have given me a window into my own self-expression I hadn’t opened before. Much gratitude.