Fearing The Void

I’m now 7 weeks from my degree show and progress so far has been either a frenzy of production or a depressed slump where I feel I will never pick up a brush again.

Whenever I start work, I look at the large, white expanse of canvas or paper in front of me and feel abject terror. It takes time to build up the confidence for that first corruption of virgin surface, and then starts the frenzy of mark making, the obliteration of virtue. Before Easter I passed this phase relatively painlessly and managed to get 4 of my 8 planned works started. Earlier this week I actually got 2 completed, but now, again, I feel the gentle nagging of creative fear. I’m doubting my work so far. I don’t know how to progress.

After visiting the Royal Academy earlier this week I came back to my easel with enthusiasm but a busy week and a cold that won’t die meanĀ I’m struggling to focus today. Instead of painting I’ve filled in an application form and done my supermarket shop online. Not ideal, but at least productive.

But thinking about now getting back into the studio and still feeling no enthusiasm, I wonder why it is as artists we do have such creative fear? Why are we so susceptible to self doubt? Having had an ‘other’ career before art, I know it certainly didn’t involve feeling any fear about what I was about to go and do in my office each day. Certainly there were confidence wobbles if I had something new and public to do, but I didn’t doubt my ability to do my key tasks, stare at them blankly and/or procrastinate wildly.

How do we as artists store up that confidence that comes from a great day in the studio to be used on bleak days such as today? Answers on a postcard please….