Fear

Why are we such chickens? I mean it’s just a blank piece of paper, or an empty scene file, or a blob of clay, or a new animation assignment… Have you experienced it? I’ve heard artists say that facing a blank piece of paper is intimidating. Why is it that we are afraid of placing the first mark on the paper or moving the first foot control? I certainly have felt it… but it seems irrational, doesn’t it? No one needs to be around, but we check over our shoulder to see if anyone is watching. Weird, no? It’s definitely fear. I think it’s fear of failure and perhaps a fear of being mocked. That fear can paralyze us and it can prevent us from becoming better artists. My advice to myself when this happens is: get over it. I should know by now that I am going to fail and when I’m learning I will make things that don’t look good. It’s part of the process. Who cares if it isn’t the Mona Lisa, I’m learning.

I think the first step in ‘getting over it’ is becoming more childlike. I don’t mean childish (you know, temper tantrums and that sort of thing), rather it is the quality that a child has that enables them to trust and not be afraid. It’s that quality that shows up when they create their first work of art. They will scratch and scribble furiously with their crayon on a page and then with a wide cheesy grin show Mom and Dad their wonderful creation. They trust and they don’t fear. When we look at their work we don’t judge it according to ‘professional’ standards, but we judge it according to the level that the child is at. We encourage and we praise their attempt to recreate the image of what is supposed to be the pet dog. Somewhere along the line to becoming adults, we tend to lose that childlikeness. The fear of criticism and the experience of past mockery transfers to a fear of the blank page.

Now that isn’t to say that we shouldn’t get past the scribbling and scratching. After awhile the drawing of the dog should start to look like a dog. But we really shouldn’t be afraid of the blank page. Let’s be more childlike and enjoy the process of putting down the first mark on the page. Let it be a doorway to exploration and creativity – just like when we were kids. After all, now we are just older kids, right? Let’s just get over it. Don’t be afraid of showing your scribbles and scratches. Don’t be afraid of starting to scribble. Remember these are just the stepping stones to getting better at what we do. It gives new meaning to ‘No Fear’.