An Incredible Act of Courage

Making art in spite of your inner voice screaming, “We’re all gonna die!”

You know the attitude that non artists have, the one where they say, “Must be nice to sit around and draw all day.” That one? Yeah.

Deciding to choose art as a profession has to be one of the biggest acts of courage around. And it’s not a one and done type of act; this courage needs to be leaned on almost every day for a lot of artists.

For one thing, every piece of art you create is judged. First by you, facing your own doubts about your skills and talents. Maybe even when looking around and comparing your work to others.

Then by your friends and family, who maybe mean well, but really should just stop “helping” with their advice to get a real job.

And of course by the internet at large when you share. While I’ve personally found haters to be few and far between, I know that my experiences aren’t necessarily the same as others’.

If you submit your work to juried shows, or contests (oy contests are a scam!), then you have that act of courage as well. Judged on purpose.

If you do commissions, the act from start to finish is one that requires courage. Will they like it? Is it good enough? Does the end result match their vision?

There are the people who are quick to take advantage. Art in exchange for exposure and they try to make it seem like you need them for your success (lies!) and they’re doing you a favour (more lies!). But it takes courage to turn them down because what if they’re right?

And when you produce something amazing in your studio, there can be the secret wonder — is this it? Everything from this point on, will it be less than?

Art making itself comes from within so when there’s a disruption in your life, like a major life event, it can disrupt your art practice as well. Dry it up. Destroy it. Change how you create.

The whole path of the artist is precarious and wrought with fear.

So why do it?

It’s a calling. A need to create. To be true to oneself. To explain the world around, examine it, through art. To connect with your inner world. To express emotions that need to be shared with others.

There are so many reasons that people make art but the bottom line is it is an act of courage to do it. A larger act of courage to share it. And the biggest act of courage to return to it day after day.

So, if you’re an artist, own your power. You are a courageous glitter covered unicorn, adding to our collective culture through your work. And it’s important, necessary work.

If you’re a friend or family member or fan of an artist — respect their courage. It isn’t slacking off and easy making art all day long. Your artist requires far more courage simply by showing up than you realize.

Paula Mould

Paula Mould

Paula Mould is a fine artist, published author and business coach for Leigh & Paula.

She also swears, mostly on purpose.

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