Learning How to Paint: Insecurities and their kryptonite

anstract landscape mixed media.jpg

I’m at the stage in the evolution of my art where every painting is a learning exercise. In fact, I suspect even seasoned artists would say as much in a steal-my-thunder kinda way but I think my curve is much steeper. As an artist I’m so green that the new art and artists I’m constantly encountering online result in me frenziedly attempting a different style of painting every week. So far I’ve tried Wabi Sabi, abstract landscapes, steampunk, mixed media, artography, and oil painting. This leaves me feeling kind of exhilarated and somewhat unauthentic at the same time. Most of the time I’ll notice an element of a painting I like and try to replicate it with my limited skill set. If you haven’t already guessed, the above painting was inspired by Kelly Rae Roberts’ trademark patchwork collages and messy brayered backgrounds. Intellectually I know that it’s not copying, it’s imitation as a learning exercise. I remember seeing art students sitting in front of masterpieces at the Louvre and sketching them presumably for the very same reason.

However, I, like many people, have hang-ups when it comes to making art. There’s a little voice in my head that sometimes suggests that if I can’t render bowls of fruit photo-realistically or if I’m not being a wacko who does weird shit with stuff then I’m not really an artist and I certainly shouldn’t have to develop a style. I suspect a lot of people stop making art or never begin for similar insecurities. There are a lot of practical philosophies that hold as true for art making as they do for life that I can fall back on at this point and placate such insecurities. Enjoying the process and not being in a rush to get to the end is a good one. Another one is that nothing worth doing is easy. Both rock solid, clichéd, but rock solid. However, the one thing that gives me an instant dose of concrete certainty that I am doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing is remembering how I felt about art when I wasn’t making it. It hurt to look at beautiful things I didn’t create. They gave me a deep-down emotional ache. They made me feel intensely jealous of the person who created it. A particularly exquisitely sexy piece of eye candy could even make me angry in an upset kind of way. For anyone out there who doesn’t know what to do with their lives, doesn’t know what their passion is, think of the thing that makes you feel like that and go out and do it. I suppose this is kind of the dark side of the “do what excites you” coin – “do what pisses you off because you’re not doing it”. No matter what insecurities come up for me in my art making from here on out, it doesn’t matter, because I wield their kryptonite.

5 Comments Learning How to Paint: Insecurities and their kryptonite

    1. Katherine

      Thanks Kimberley. They’re actually collage papers but one of the papers is a picture of fibres – the one in the centre.

  1. KL Bailey Art

    Your work is wonderful! I love the texture you’ve given this piece.

    I know exactly what you mean about the art learning curve. I’ve been painting all my life, but only started calling myself and ‘artist’ about 2 years ago. I still sometimes feel like a kid who’s pretending – that I’m not really an artist because of all the things I can’t do. I love doing it though and trying new things. Keep up the great work!

  2. Tara

    Hi Katherine! I love this post.

    For the record, I have a degree in sculpture and battle with feeling like I’m not a “real” artist. Currently my fight is with calling myself a “writer”. But I write. I write a lot and I love it and I constantly work on a blog and two books. So that makes me… a writer? Tyler coaches me on this a lot, and it’s very tough to get over feeling like a fake.

    Oh, and I also do not feel adventurous or hard-core and I am certainly not the “biking around the world type”. But it doesn’t really matter! You suck it up and do it anyway and that is the important part. :-)

    Keep it up!

  3. suzi banks baum

    Hi Katherine,

    I am enjoying your posts, especially your art and thoughts on art. I learned recently about jealousy being an indication of appetite. We really don’t need to spend time shaming ourselves about being jealous. We can simply welcome the information “Oh, you are really interested in working with gold leaf.” or “Wow, I never realized I liked lace up red boots like boxers wear so much.” It is just your appetite growling…paint paint paint. I love the ache you describe so well. I am a full time Mom and artist living with boundary-less quality of my work- when I am making dinner am I more Mom and less artist? I’d love for you to look at my website, just to see some of the work I do and the exhibit I am showing right now. We have a discussion I’d love you to be a part of on April 10- a day long workshop on the Daily-ness of Art and that evening we will watch the movie “Who Does She Think She Is?” about women artists. Maybe you can turn the RV towards Massachusetts? Hope your day is great. I am going to link my site to yours. Sincerely, S


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