Art class begins at 1pm and I find myself completely stressed  by the thought of going out and facing the unknown. Except it is not unknown. And it is ridiculous to be fearful. Where does this come from, this deep seated anxiety about “art”?

I grew up being told that I was not “artistic” – whatever it is that the word means. I was in fact thrown out of art class at the end of my first year in Grammar school. I was dispatched to take Physics – a subject that it was thought that I had more aptitude for. Meanwhile, at a Secondary Modern school a  few miles away, my twin sister was well on the road to eventually becoming a teacher of art. She was encouraged at home and always pointed out as the creative one. I only cooked.

It was many years before I was able to recognise that cooking is a highly creative skill and the one way in which I found a truly creative outlet  for most of my life.

I have tried, from time to time, but the self-critic defeats me. I cannot get past that point of believing that art should be life-like. My hands do not have that level of skill. How could they? I was denied the learning process. I was denied the support.

There have been several false starts at self-teaching. That critic defeated me every time. (She’s called Irene, by the way.)

I once made it to an art group – but only attended for a for a handful of weeks before leaving the district and having to give up the class.

So, here I go again. This time I know the teacher – and people do not come any nicer. I have every confidence in her as a person who will do everything that she can to enable individuals both in the medium and in their self-belief. But still I have those collywobbles. Still I believe that I shall be the only beginner. The only non-adept. That I am going to  make a total arse of myself.

I wish the internal me knew what the intellectual me knows – it’s just a bit of fun. It will be fun. It will. If only I could stop quivering!

And I wish I knew why it is so important to me. Why, for all of my life, I have felt the need to express myself on paper with pen, ink, pencil, paint… I have no idea what it is that makes me want this so very much. Or why, if I have always wanted it so much, I haven’t just gone ahead and done it, why I feel the need to be shown how rather than just doing my own thing. Or why it is that I cannot forgive myself for not being every bit as good as Renoir or Monet or Rosetti – when I have barely even begun.

Right. Deep breath. Here I go!


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  1. September 13, 2011

    Sometimes the fear comes from being afraid of messing up that perfect piece of watercolour paper/sketchbook/canvas/whatever. So give yourself permission to mess up … splash some really watered down watercolour onto a piece of scrunched up kitchen paper and ‘print’ a ground with it, doodle in indelible black ink on the centre pages, do something to ‘spoil’ what you’re painting/drawing on … now, see, it’s no longer perfect and you can’t mess it up … now you can go ahead and make art, whatever the hell that is. Have fun !!!

    Annie (ex art teacher 🙂 )

    • September 13, 2011

      Ah, the Keri Smith school of thought! 🙂

      Alas my fear was grounded – I was the only beginner!

      • September 13, 2011

        Not quite … she’s a bit too keen on instructions for my liking 😉

        Everyone has to start somewhere … like I said, have fun 😀

  2. September 14, 2011

    My family dynamic sounds a bit similar. It was decided early on that my sister was the artistic one and I…wasn’t. She got music lessons and art lessons and I was told I couldn’t have them because I wasn’t artistic enough. I went to engineering camp instead.

    Now I’m designing things and writing patterns and my mother still says how odd it is because I was never ‘the arty one.’ I’m not saying putting together knitting patterns is art (far from it), but I do think it’s visual and spatial and isn’t entirely unrelated to the skills one might classify as artistic.

    And I do wonder if I’d have the mental block that says ‘I can’t DRAW that’ if someone had put me in a class instead of telling me I couldn’t do such things.

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