Q is for questioning myself

In my career as a human being, I have doubted myself over and over again. I read that people are their own worst critics, and that is certainly true for me. I gave up art at the age of 15 when I suddenly and with little reason decided that I couldn’t draw. Actually, there was reason. A boy in summer camp said that I was better at drawing than some other kid. But the he added, “and you can’t draw.” I had a bit of a crush on that boy so, if he said I couldn’t draw, then I couldn’t draw.

I loved to draw and I didn’t stop. I just wouldn’t take any more art classes because I questioned myself too much. I doodled on agenda pages as I sat through one dull meeting after the next. I doodled here, I doodled there, and I doodled everywhere. Sometimes people commented about the doodles and I just smiled. It was okay if I couldn’t draw. My career was to be in journalism, and I didn’t have to draw to be a reporter. It didn’t take long, however, for my journalism career to crash and burn.

my career goes up in flames.

I went back to school to find another career, preferably one that wouldn’t crash and burn… and then, I had another crash and burn experience. But the one thing that happened in school that was really positive was that I took an art class. I told myself, “Self, you have no talent. So, your pictures are going to be really bad. And that’s okay. Just enjoy the process of making the picture and don’t worry about the result.” And that’s what I did. It turned out to be the right thing to do. By believing that I had zero talent and that my pictures would be bad, I had freed myself from all expectations. I went to the art class and had fun. I called everything “portrait of…” Which was funny when the subject of the painting was a shopping bag. “Portrait of shopping bag.” I really loved that title. As it turned out, I also loved my drawings and paintings. Being freed from expectations also meant that I was very relaxed and happy. It wasn’t then that I decided that art was for me, however.

My mother made the decision to bug the heck out of me until I took more art classes. I reminded her repeatedly that I was completely devoid of talent, but she wasn’t going for that. She had a strong stubborn streak and she wasn’t going to stop until I caved. Finally, I did cave. That was way back in the 1990s. And I am still doing art.

One thing that I learned about talent is that it’s overrated. People can have all the talent in the world but, if they don’t use it, it doesn’t mean anything. I learned that learning art is like learning a musical instrument. It’s the practice that matters. If you put the effort into it, something magical could happen. You just never know when that magic will happen.

Where do you find your magic?

4 thoughts on “Q is for questioning myself”

  1. I can completely relate to self-doubt and questioning myself. I’m so glad you were able to give yourself permission to just have fun with your art. And that your mom saw what you didn’t see and kept pushing you until you gave in. Because now we get to enjoy your art!!

  2. I’m doing the same thing now, Alice. Seems l’ve lost my painting mojo. Everything looks murky and muddy. I was majoring in fine arts and English when I started university. Quit after 2 years and didn’t do art at all till retirement. I’ve taken 3 classes – watercolour, drawing and landscape with acrylic. I like the last the least. Now I’m forgetting about classes, etc. while I try to finish the last 100dayproject.

  3. Just coming off Tax Season and my magic is low – I read a book, but I don’t have time to read enough to get my head space back – I do embroidery but I got to clean up my fibers before doing so and that will take months – I want to write, but I got to apply for new jobs and dig out from all the paperwork of the past year. The magic is crushed by mundania. I hope your Art will continue to renew and embrace.

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