Sunday, 16 August 2015

Fear of the Great White

“The greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure.” 
- Sven Goran Eriksson

Painting on anything bigger than A4 used to scare the living daylights out of me - I kept on taking out that BIG piece of (expensive) art paper and then quickly putting it away "for another day"!

Part of this fear is the idea of wasting materials. What if I make a bugger-up? What if it's horrible, then the whole piece of paper is wasted. And all that paint! I used to dip my paintbrush into tiny amounts of precious Winsor & Newton watercolours and carefully apply the paint, concentrating on not messing up anything. This often resulted in a completely "tight" and over-worked piece of artwork. The more I did this, the more I was dissatisfied with the results and convinced I couldn't waste a large sheet and precious paint on art that is no good.

 An old painting with lots of fiddling going on and mud happening (and do you see the 'mistake' in the perspective? One thing I'm very set on is that the perspective of a painting must be 100% right!)

Then one day I decided that I've just got to tackle those large canvasses, no more procrastinating!

First I took a sheet of Bockingford 300gsm, 20" x 30", quite prepared to lose it and relaxed. I mixed large quantities of colours, and with no preliminary sketching, I dipped a large brush and let fly, working quickly to get a feel of the brush as it moved across the paper, enjoying the feeling as the back-ground started taking shape. Every now and then I could feel myself starting to concentrate on a particular area, so I stood back, relaxed and started over again, wielding my brush loosely, allowing the colours to flow and mingle until I was satisfied with the result.

Standing back and viewing my painting, I almost whooped aloud, at last a had a pleasing piece of art! And a LARGE one to boot!

Getting over those paralysing thoughts of "Oh, I spent 'x' amount of dollars on that canvas/paper. If I just start playing and it turns out awful, what a waste it will be! I better do something good on this or forget about it" is crucial to making good art. Give yourself permission to make complete and utter crap to get you past the initial roadblock and into the flow of creativity. and if it turns out no good, cut it up into ACEO's, paint over it or throw it out. Each experience leads to the next and having some "failures" are important too. Once you get started, the sense of fun kicks in and you lose yourself in the process. And if you find yourself stuck in fear along the way, a simple reminder to let go of the end-product is usually enough to get going again.



  1. Wow Maree, this is such a beautiful blog: full of inspiration! Congratulations!

    1. Thanks ever so much Liz, so pleased you like it! And thanks for the visit!