Fear of Looking Imperfect

One of the things that inevitably comes to the forefront for me in art-making, is my fear of looking imperfect. Of looking like an imposter, or that I haven’t got it all together.

Over the past few weeks, as I’ve gotten ready for the Vale’s Greenhouse Cultivation of Art Show and Sale, I have come up against my fear again and again.

Yesterday, after what I deemed another miserable attempt to create something worthy of being part of my offerings at the show, I told my beloved, “I figured something out in the studio today.”

“What’s that?” he asked from where he sat on the sofa watching a hockey game on his laptop.

“The thing I hate about art shows is that I get all caught up in the outcome and lose my joy of creating simply for the sake of creating.”

“Oh.” he replied. “Is that why you’ve been on edge these past few days?”

I was on edge? Hmmm…

“Probably. I love being immersed in the creative nature of art-making, but what I’ve noticed, as I’ve gotten ready for the art show, is I’m not allowing the creative process to just happen. I’m making art instead of making space for art to happen.”

I paused for a moment as C.C. sat quietly watching me, waiting for me to find my way through my angst. “I hate art shows. Don’t even know why I go in. I don’t create to sell. I create to have fun. And I’m not having much fun right now.”

Ahhhh….. that little five year old loves to get into it when she feels like I’m fleeing the scene of my artistic potential.

It isn’t that she’s trying to create havoc or run amuck with my self-confidence. Rather, it’s that she feels my fear. Unfortunately, when I am running with fear as my companion, she gets scared. Scared means she can’t go play with abandon amongst the wildflowers. She can’t paint the moon all the colours of the rainbow because I am standing outside the sacred garden of my creative nature.

When I’m running with fear of my creative expression and talents, my peace of mind is a fast river of muddy waters swollen by spring run-off. .

This morning, I woke up, took Beaumont the Sheepadoodle for his early morning walk. At one point, I stood at the railing of the John Hextall pedestrian bridge which joins the western edges of the city to the downtown. I stood on the Hextall and watched the waters of the Bow River flowing deep and fast beneath it.

As I stand and watch the waters and Beau sniffs the grasses growing in the planters that line the center of the bridge, I am reminded of a poem by Apollinaire Guillaume. I was first introduced to Apollinaire in my teens. His work still resonates deeply. The poem, The Mirabeau, begins with the line, “Under the Mirabeau flows the Seine.”

And I am transported back to that child of five who danced and laughed and spun about when she was a little girl and we lived in France. Life was full of possibilities. She had such dreams, such flights of fancy and wonder and awe. There was nothing she couldn’t do and she planned on doing it all.

And I hear her whispering deep within me. “Let me go back to where I am free to run amidst the wildflowers and paint the moon all the colours of the rainbow. Let me go back so you can run free of fear standing here on the Hextall above the Bow.

And when I return home I take a flight of fancy and write an homage to Appollinaire.

An Homage to Appollinaire
by Louise Gallagher

Under the Hextall flows the Bow
muddy waters churning
the mountains are running 
of winter’s excess
the lakes are flowing 
of mother nature’s blanket
against their beauty

I stand on the bridge
and cast my doubts
into the fast-flowing waters
of fear that the waters
will never run clear again
that the lakes
will never thaw
that I will never
be free
of fear

I cast my doubts
beyond the thrall
of my confusion
and breathe
the morning’s cool fresh
upon my face
where I stand 
on the Hextall
above the Bow.

And I return to my studio.

I need not fear my imperfections. I only need to embrace them so that I am free to celebrate my creative expressions in all their many colours, all their multi-dimensions and all their unique expressions.

In that frame of mind, I let go of expectations and outcome and throw myself with abandon into the deep running waters of my creative expressions flowing free.


27 thoughts on “Fear of Looking Imperfect

  1. the pictures look like paintings and the poem reads well

    so that must mean

    you are a painter

    you are a writer and a poet too

    and we’ve come to know what you know – you are a dandelion seed that floated until it landed, grew deep immovable roots here

    and flowers here

    what better place to be and at an art show in a greenhouse?

    you are an artist – get over it, and just get on with it!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Thank you! For sharing your words, your art and fears! Your conversation at home reminded me of recent ones in our house. 😉 That fear of mistakes and imposter hit hard this week. Love and hugs. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

      • It’s something that keeps raising it’s not-so-pretty head. The fear of not being perfect is an old wound and I feel it too. I also have come to realize that it may never heal so I have to lean into it and embrace it when it’s present. I have to show that part of me plenty of self-compassion and when I do this, the fear seems to quietly vanish, allowing the courage to shine!!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ah yes — ‘an old wound’ – so true! I love your wisdom around ‘it may never heal’ — leaning into it and embracing it when it appears is so very wise and self-loving.
        Thank you Megan! ❤

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Something is amiss in your world?! Mais oui, ma Chère! After all thou art “hooman” (Beaumont’s word, pas la mienne). I have always treated “fear” to be the driver of creativity. And that fear as you write about it actually turned your mindset back around, creating as your impulses direct you, not because you are participating in an art show.
    Good luck in the show, will be there in spirit, looking over your right shoulder. Maybe next year can be there in person.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Isn’t it strange that we create with no real confidence in our creative production. In fact on some days i think I will never write a word that anyone would ever want to read. Louise over and over you create beauty with both words and pictures. Yes, embrace the imperfections. I think nothing lasting that we can truly identify with was ever perfect. Hugs and love.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you Louise. I am glad that you are enjoying my work, as well. Yes, I do experience similar feelings at times, especially when external pressures dominate and I forget to be totally involved in art the way I like to be. Your blog is a useful reminder and it made me smile.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. As I read your blog and looked at your beautiful artwork I thought, “Oh my goodness, what is Louise thinking about? Her work is so wonderful.” As I read on and you referred to your carefree 5 year old self I thought about all children and their innocence, their fearlessness, their acceptance and how over time as some grow life-experiences can change that. I think we all have had this happen to us and some handle it better than others and some come out of it better than others. When you were on the bridge I wanted to say, “Throw your insecurities about your art into the fast flowing water and watch it flow away.” When I had a life experience that I was having a very hard time overcoming my counsellor had me envision a basket that I had put under a tree and into that basket I was to put in anything that was holding me back from healing. It was an incredibly freeing experience and so, dear Louise, throw those insecurities into the river or imagine your basket and tuck them away.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh Debbie. what a beautiful affirming and inspiring comment.
      I love your therapists idea! I used to write on eggs all my angst and worries and woes and then throw them off cliffs or at trees — I love the idea of a basket full of worries that I imagine emptying into the river! Thank you so very much. ❤ ❤ ❤


    • Thank you JOanne — I think the challenge is… it’s not that I fear I’m not creative or talented, it’s that when I try to create for an ‘outcome’ I lose the joy of creating! Thank you for being such an amazing supportive voice and presence here. ❤


  6. Embrace the imperfections. You’ve got a way with words and your chosen medium so let them flow. Who cares if a piece you love doesn’t sell – it means you get to keep it! I love every piece that you pictured on this blog… As an potential purchaser how do I judge the imperfections that my eye doesn’t even see as I don’t see your vision but my perception of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Bernie! What wise and loving words. And LOL — re keeping it — I have several painting on our walls that are coming with me to the show — my husband is very accustomed to the ‘changing scenery’ in our home — but there are a couple he simply cannot let me take… so they stay… even though, one in particular, is not my favourite! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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