“It costs nothing to dream and everything not to.” – Rodney White (why creating art can be terrifying)

Yesterday I painted. For several hours. For so long, when I was done, the muscles in my legs were stiff and my arms were sore.

And it was wonderful.

Sometimes the busyness of life (being a mom, multi-business owner, and trying to live a mindful, more balanced life) gets in the way of my painting. And every time I get back to it, I feel better. Happier. More optimistic.

And you would think that, being an artist, I would just naturally want to make art all the time. And as a human, that’s exactly how I would want to feel all the time. But even in my post-painting euphoria, I know this: creating art can be terrifying.

I know I’m not the only one who thinks so. I talk about it a lot with my fellow artist friends. And many others, wiser and more successful than myself (so far!) have said so, too…

“The need to be a great artist makes it hard to be an artist. The need to produce a great work of art makes it hard to produce any art at all.” — Julia Cameron

But like A. Alvarez said, “The better the artist, the more vulnerable he seems to be.” I don’t know about “better”, but you become a better artist (or anything, really) by consistently doing it, and you have allow yourself to be vulnerable in order to make art.

Like I’m doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing.

There is always this fear that it won’t be good enough. And therefore I’m not good enough. Luckily, it’s is (usually) balanced by the love of the white canvas and the infinite possibilities it holds. Either way, it’s quite the conundrum.

But the fear also comes from worrying about showing your art. It’s like standing naked in front of a crowd of people. You worry that they will notice every flaw. And not notice the overall, bigger, more beautiful picture.

“It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else. ” — Erma Bombeck

For me, anyway, making art sometimes feels like riding a roller coaster. Everything from waiting in line to ride (cleaning your space, mixing paints, readying the canvas, etc.), to the long uphill ride (lots of work, nervous excitement, wondering how it’s all going to turn out, and if you’ll survive it at all!), and then, when you’re done, and satisfied with what you’ve made (which doesn’t always happen), the first long dip in the ride, where you raise your hands above your head, and squeal with delight! Viola! A finished piece of art. A piece of your soul, on canvas.

That’s where I am right now.

I know there will always be more dips and climbs, but right now, I feel good.

So I’m off to paint again!

I hope you’re doing what you love, what makes you happiest, and what fulfills your soul. It’s the only way to live.


Soft Memories by Jules Tillman