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Artists & the Fear of Failure: Overcoming Fear & Limitations That Hinder Your Creative Abilities

Creating art has a way of really exposing the artist, maybe in a way that nothing else does. I have said many times that I paint from my soul. I feel that it isn’t genuine if I don’t feel a connection to the piece that I just made. I have a few that I just never did feel close to, kind of like the timing to create it was way off…or maybe I just stayed in a specific theme for too long. I am not entirely certain if it is only me that can tell that I wasn’t connected, or if everyone can. I honestly don’t know the answer to that because I don’t ever release those paintings that I don’t feel close to. I am my own worst critic….and I am certain that you are as well.


Sometimes we doodle...

When I was young I drew a lot and painted, I never felt like I should show off anything that I drew because it was uninspired. I remember that people thought it was 100 times cooler if a boy drew something than if a girl did. Almost like they just didn’t even feel like they should cultivate that in a girl. Oddly enough I was very close to my art teacher in junior high. She would spend a lot of time with me, we even went to museums together…and she used to send me journals because at that time I didn’t see that I could be an actual artist. I really thought that I could be a poet at that time in my life….but never an artist. Art was something I liked but not something I thought I was ever particularly good at. This teacher was like family to me, but never once did she really push me to draw…at least not actively. I didn’t realize that I was actually an artist until long after she died. Even then I dared not show it to anyone.


The truth is I was good enough to show my art a long time before I ever did. I could create just the same as anyone else. I knew I could look at something and draw it, I could play a mean game of Pictionary. I still only passively engaged in my art. I let so many people talk me out of following my “art”….I know, I know totally cheap play on words…haha you’ll be okay. When I started really trying to put my feelings down on the canvas and take it seriously I didn’t know a LOT of things. I also didn’t realize that I have the damaging force in my own art business. I realize that the stuff I used to create very early on is SUPER vanilla, it was just mosaic shapes, tribal type images, and landscapes. I thought I wasn’t allowed to do the nude paintings and the bold abstracts that I am better known for now.


Yes, I made my own limitations. You may be asking, “Why wasn’t she allowed to make the nude paintings?” Yes, I was an adult but at the time I didn’t feel confident enough about myself or about my sexuality or about my body to really pour that part of me into my art. My landscapes were not remarkable. My color usage wasn't really as expressive as I wanted. I felt that it was not a good thing to paint people naked, it wasn’t a good thing for a chubby girl to feel that she could paint people in their bodies and NOT in their clothes. I wasn’t gay, but thought that painting a nude woman was beautiful and it was freeing. So, I guess the truth is that while I “could” have painted nudes….I also simply couldn’t.


Sometimes we just need to move on.

I even married someone that was hateful about my painting, or about the fact that I was enjoying anything. That way I would be forced to refrain from painting, because I “wasn’t the good anyway”. Somewhere between his crappy attitude, his outright neglect, and his cheating I decided that I liked me more than that. I finally forced him out. I moved and then I started anew. I even thought for a while that he had taken my precious cheaply made paint brushes with him just to mess with me…but luckily things were just badly packed as I was relocating. New life and I had fresh walls, though I didn’t have a lot more going for me at that time. I had one wall in particular that needed me to paint it, it almost kind of called to me. That is where this new chapter of me started, so I began to paint. Every night after working all day I came home and I painted until I was too tired to get on the ladder again.


My "Therapy" Wall

Then I did the same thing the next day. I always took pictures of what it looked like that night so I could show people if I felt like it. I put all of my pain, my hurt, my anger, my frustration, and all of my fear into painting my wall. I literally gave the wall everything that I had left after my awful marriage…but it gave me more. A lot of the reactions I got about my phases of my wall included gasps and statements like “Well that is wild, I guess,” or “it’s very colorful,” and even “what kind of drugs are you taking?” I decided not to let it bother me…I was being lead. It took me 3 months to finish the wall. In painting my wall I was able to break down my own walls….oddly enough.


I ended up changing jobs and finding something a bit better suited for me that paid significantly more than I have ever been paid before. This job was also a work from home opportunity, which significantly helped with the amount of funds going out of my home on a regular basis. The coolest thing about this job was that I could finally afford to buy the art supplies that I have always wanted to try. For the first time in my life I bought real art supplies, I could get myself almost anything I wanted. I also bought supplies for other people in my life. I wanted them to be as happy as I was….finally. The interesting part about it was that I noticed that the more secure my life became, the better my work got. The more I got on my feet, the more willing I was to share those pieces of myself with others. You will never create anything good if you haven’t dealt with your own demons, and you certainly won’t be able to bring yourself to show the good stuff until you have understood why you created your hang ups.


I spent a lot of time by myself at this time in my life. My son often went to spend the night with family members and I was pretty much just alone a lot. After I finished my wall what would I do? I used some of my new fancy art stuff. I sat there and simply “tried” different things. I really wanted to see if I could actually do them. I thought back about my desire to paint naked people….could I really do it? Better yet, if I did it would I ever want to show anyone that I did? I threw caution to the wind and put my brush to the canvas…then I took the brush off and painted with my fingers. This painting was my first nude, my first painting in oils, and my first time out letting myself really be expressive. This painting started the rest of my journey in Art. It allowed me to consider myself to be an artist. It was my Artist Eureka! I was pretty much covered head to toe and asshole to elbow with oil paints…tips on how to avoid this in a different blog post, I promise! Standing in my living room, very proud of me…feeling accomplished…but now what do I do with it?



I showed my mom and my sisters. I got pretty good feedback. There was some discomfort because of the nudity, but they couldn’t deny that it was good. They couldn’t deny that the painting had its very own soul. After this, I shared it anywhere I could. Facebook on my own page, I joined art groups, I made a page for my art. I figured out other places to put it. I literally wanted feedback, was it as good as I felt that it was? I got some horrible feedback, but it wasn’t even my worst fear. My worst fear is that I would believe the horrible feedback. The negative feedback I got was simply that I shouldn’t make naked people and I shouldn’t post them on the internet. Some people thought it was odd and I kinda blushed when people walked into my house. Lots of the negative feedback I was getting wasn’t really even about my work, it was more about the individual and their bad feelings about themselves. There used to be a stigma among people I know, but eventually my comfort and ability to keep showing them there was beauty in the nude body helped them to come around and fix some of their hang ups as well. Eventually they saw my art as empowering and not shameful. Since my early days of sharing I have gotten some wonderful feedback. I have had my art featured in some major shows and exhibitions.


Now I make sure that I am always pushing myself. I advocate for those who want to engage in nude art…I advocate for people who really just want to be able to accept their own bodies. I am currently doing my nude body empowerment project where I take nude photos of people who volunteer and tell their stories. So, far this is such an exciting project and it thrills me to know that this could help people, not just the models…but others who see this as well. People who have come forward and shared their stories with me have showed me how important my work is right now. I’m glad that people are learning to love themselves more while I am continuing to love me more and building on the work I have done. I wouldn’t trade any of that and I wouldn’t ever want to go back to that time where I was so closed off and hurting my own art.



I say all of this just to highlight all of the positivity that can come to you once you overcome whatever it is that is stopping you from really expressing yourself or sharing your work. Nobody should be able to tell you what constitutes art. People really shouldn’t be able to discourage you from doing something that you love. If you paint, but you don’t love it….then make sure you stop. Don’t just quit because it is hard or because someone else doesn’t like it, continue…but make the art for YOU. Work more on you and the others will come around. If they don’t, then they really aren’t your people. I promise you that there will always be at least one person that you show a piece of art to that will have something totally negative to say. If nobody has, they are probably saying it somewhere. Don’t be discouraged….and don’t ever stop creating if you love it. You won’t always be perfect and the work won’t always be your “best piece” but you can always be consistent.


One Artist to another….don’t back down if you know that this is what you want. It’s okay to turn the other cheek when people say bad things to you. The best advice I can give you is this…Be confident enough in yourself and the work that you do so that you never have to ask other artists for “an opinion”. I am sharing my art, I am sharing my piece of me. The same as if I was meeting someone for the first time I would never ask them “do you like me? Or “is there something I could do better?” I don’t really care what the answer would be because I don’t intend to actually change ME. So there are a few things to tell yourself before you share your work:


-YOU ARE YOUR BIGGEST FAN and you should be (don’t rely on others to cheer for you if you aren’t willing to do it for yourself.


- You have nothing to be afraid of (some people are assholes and their main purpose is to make sure that they push you further down in hopes that would help their status.


- You can still be afraid…but always share it anyway. We know that people sometimes suck, but make sure you share once you have braced yourself for this stuff.


-Grow a thick skin….this is self-explanatory.


-And last but not least…Don’t ever stop creating. I mean this more than anything else, don’t stop.


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