Last night I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned many times. My mind ran unbridled with thoughts about the day ahead. It reminded me of the night before my first art show in Calgary, Alberta in 2008. At the time, I had been painting daily for less than 6 months, and I had collected a few paintings I did not know what to do with
“Sell them so that you can buy more canvases and paint!”, encouraged my sister-in-law. The idea filled me with anxiety and a strange sense of excitement. Her suggestion seemed logical enough, so with a little more encouragement and convincing from my family and friends, I reluctantly agreed.
It’s one thing to paint inside your home studio behind closed doors. It’s an entirely different thing to put your paintings up for public consumption and judgment. I was terrified.
What would people think? Would anyone buy anything? Would this be a big waste of time and energy and send me crawling back, defeated and even more afraid? My fears were big and wide. What I remember from that day, was spending as little time next to my paintings as I could. I took comfort standing outside, chain smoking behind the building.
The other thing I remember is my response when someone told me they wanted to buy one of my paintings: “Really?” Was my deer-caught-in-the-headlights answer.
Not at all the way I would later coach my students to behave during their first art show!
But the important thing is this: I did it. I participated in my first art show despite my anxiety and fears. Unbeknownst to me, it’s a decision that changed the course of my life.
Your feelings can fool you. Feeling anxious and afraid about something does not mean you should not do it. I say it’s better to charge ahead, do the thing that intimidates you and make room for something new. Make room for possibility.
I think courage is like a muscle. The more we face our discomfort, the stronger we become.
Do you remember how you felt before your first art show? Please share!
This blog was created to share my belief that the art-making process is a catalyst for transformation and personal empowerment. I am living proof.