I am an artist, and I'm very proud of many of the things I have made. However, I doubt myself. I have accepted this doubt as part of the life of an artist. I don't agree, as some are taken to say, that it's best to ignore/deny/extinguish doubt at all costs. No, I actually believe that my doubts are bound to be quite valid at times. Of course I will fail sometimes. Of course I will not always create in a way that fulfills my intentions and imaginations and expectations. Of course.
Isn't risk a part of art? Isn't failure too? Isn't it Ok to recognize those moments? Not to throw in the towel or beat oneself up, but to become more comfortable with who you really mean to be, more aware of the path you really want to take. Doubt happens when I am pushing up against something that I'm not sure I want for myself. Confidence is that sensation of authentic, personal creativity.
|image by Kelly of Santa Barbara Chic|
I write tonight after chatting with a friend who declared her most recent quilt not quite "her" aesthetically. She was frustrated, unable to put a finger on what had gone "wrong." Instead of denying her feelings, I concurred. I spent some time considering her lovely recent finish and comparing it with some of her favorite works so that I could possibly share a bit of perspective as to how it was different. As we chatted she added, "I was left feeling like I'd sold myself a bit short. Hadn't taken time for thought and creativity along the way." I could so absolutely relate!
It's so frustrating to find yourself doubting a project. Sometimes those doubts turn out to be totally unfounded - you just need a fresh look at it in the morning or you just need to let the bud open slowly but surely. These are the times when you're stretching yourself. It's uncomfortable, but it's growth.
Other times in retrospect, the doubts were big hairy signposts that you should have changed the course. How to discern the difference? Ah, I so wish I had the answer!
|image from the Color Collective|
I've actually had a lot of doubts lately in my sewing. I often doubt myself when I am 3/4 through a project - yes, always far past the point of no return! I am pretty tenacious about finishing projects. Honestly more often than not I end up being glad I muscled through, especially if I make changes along the way in response to those doubts. But sometimes... sometimes I wish I'd just walked away in lieu of another idea.
So, know that you are not alone. Doubt might be a pain in the arse, but it's also a sign that you're taking risks. Not all risks will turn out to be golden tickets, but all of them are part of the journey. Each little risk is a step towards becoming yourself as an artist, which, I am sure, is exactly who we all want to be.
|image by Melanie of Texas Freckles|
So, maybe the next time you find yourself quadroople questioning your fabric choices or losing momentum part-way through when the project no longer seems like that bright shiny idea it once was, maybe then just remember that doubt is more than perfectly acceptable; it's a sign that you're an artist.
The worst thing you can do is nothing. Keep moving! Even moving "backwards" is really a step forwards because those doubtful moments and disappointing projects can shine a bright light on the path.