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Has this ever happened to you?  Here’s the scene- you have started a new artwork, and it is going really well. You spend a lot of time developing it, and like it more and more. At the end of your creating session, you step back from the work in progress and fall in love with it! The rest of the evening you stop by to look at the unfinished work and become more thrilled with it. But it is unfinished. And by the next time you have creating time, you have become unsure of yourself. What if I mess this up? It is so good, if I make a wrong choice in proceeding, I could wreck it!     You have become afraid of your artwork!

What to do about it? Here is what has helped me- maybe you too.

First, give it a day off. If you have the time for your art, start another work, or pick up a piece in progress. Divert your attention away from your obsession, enjoy something else. Here is an example of my distraction work, an experimental painting.


Sprayed water over my paper, dropped on bright paint, blocking out a butterfly shape.


Developed into Butterfly Garden

If you try distraction and you don’t gain some new perspective on your feared artwork, next try asking for some help. Recruit a family member, friend, teacher, or an on line contact. Ask for impressions- what strikes them about your artwork, what do they like? What does it need to be completed? What might be avoided? Listen to every word, write down the ones that ring true to you.

Other tricks to try- cover half the work up, see what looks best, work from that. Take the work to a mirror, and look at it backwards. Turn the work upside down or sideways, see what pops.

Last, if you are still afraid to try to work on it for fear of messing up- get it away. Turn it toward the wall in another room. Get involved with another piece and give the feared work time. I have left paintings go for several years when I got lost with how to proceed. My fear lessened as time went on, my perspective changed, and I learned more from painting experience. I also stopped worrying and caring so much about the outcome of the work, and was able to developed far better when I relaxed my fears.

And- if you do mess up an artwork- oh well, the first 500 are the hardest! You have many more to go on your journey. Have a creative week!