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The Worst Thing that Can Happen

by Vianna Szabo on 6/16/2017 10:15:21 AM

This post is by guest author Vianna Szabo, This article has been edited and published with the author's permission. We've promoted this post to feature status because it provides great value to the FineArtViews community. If you want your blog posts listed in the FineArtViews newsletter with the possibility of being republished to our 48,000 subscribers, consider blogging with FASO Artist Websites. This author's views are entirely her own and may not always reflect the views of BoldBrush, Inc.



Mottled Pot and Garlic was painted on top of a wiped out painting, which left the paper with this nice green tone.

 When I am teaching I often hear the phrase, “I was afraid ...” 

“I was afraid of using the wrong color.”

“I was afraid of painting a portrait.”

“I was afraid I would ruin it.”

“I was afraid,” frames a list of inactions by those who let fear rule their progress.

When fear tries to take control of your creative process you can fight back by asking a simple question: “What is the worst thing that can happen?”

You may ruin a piece of paper or have to paint over a canvas.  You may have to start over again or accept that the task was too difficult at the time.  No one is hurt; lives are not shattered. Thank goodness you are an artist and not a surgeon, accountant, or school bus driver.  If you study what went wrong you could learn a valuable lesson from the mistake and that is time well spent, not wasted. 

Talent can take artists only so far. Fear can squash the growth of the gifted and leave them where they began.  Tenacity is a powerful force and artists who accept the struggle and work through the fear are more likely to find their own vision and voice.

The artists who succeed paint consistently, trying new ideas to grow their skills. They do not let fear stop or control them. After all, what is the worst thing that can happen?



You can view Vianna's  original post here.




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Topics: advice for artists | art appreciation | creativity | FineArtViews | Guest Posts | inspiration | Instruction 

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Susan L. Vignola

What a valuable article. I have a friend who will tackle almost anything. She is fond of saying, "It's just paint!" It is, just paint and perhaps just paper. Our time was perhaps the most costly investment, but not so costly when a valuable lesson has been learned. Thank you for reminding us to keep things in perspective.

Patricia Stafford
Once upon a time, there was an abstract painting that just didn't look right no matter what I did. So I finally said to my painting instructor, "Get out the blue artist tape so I can cover up the parts I really want to keep, and then I'm just going to throw gold paint over the rest."

So I carefully placed the tape over the places I was "afraid" of ruining, stepped back, looked at the blue tape on the painting for a moment, and said, "It's done." Yep, I liked the way it looked with the pretty blue artist tape stuck on top of and totally hiding the best parts of my painting underneath.

At which point, I varnished overtop of the blue tape so it would stick to the painting, become part of the painting, and forever cover up the parts I was so afraid of ruining! * smiles *

Judith R. Legg

Thank you for a highly needed encouragement !! I have worked through these negative statements many times, and it always has been a blessing to go ahead, you have everything to gain, take notes and strengthen your toolbox of methods. Yeeaaa !!! you did it, is better than saying "I can't paint, I quit"

Keep painting, Oh faint hearted, you will prevail!
Judith R. Legg

Judith R. Legg
Write another comment . . .

Sonja Caywood
Well said! This is a lovely, concise article! Very, very true!

Jennifer Kohn Murtha
This is one good article. I had the most wonderful start on a portrait...and then I screwed it up to the point of no for one hand, that was the best ever...Finally, I worked and worked and worked and it wasn't working. So I took a painting knife and stabbed it through the canvas so that I could no longer work. Then I snapped the stretchers over my knee and sang with joy as I took it out to the dumpster. I was free to say that I had failed, but even though bloodied, I'm yet unbowed and will rise and fight again!

Jane Genet
When to stop ? 2 small paintings by me were made 'mediocre ' because I kept working them ! At about stage 3 ( drawing counting as #1 ) each could be considered finished as a good impressionist work, but they were not where I was heading, when I started I proceeded to make them 'boringly dull ' !

Nancy Hughes
Vianna, this is one of the best articles ever that all (or at least Some of us) can totally relate to. I roared laughing at all these comments because I've been there. Many times I've just wanted to open the window and give the thing a pitch but prevailed, doggedly pushing it, only to wind up still wanting to give the thing a pitch; then in frustration grabbed the biggest brush I own , covered the whole piece with any paint that was handy and with Big determination started over, finally coming up with something at least decent that I could live with. So been there, done that folks!
Thanks Vianna for a real day brightener.

Jennifer Kohn Murtha
Oh gosh, Nancy. My studio is in an industrial park so all the windows are permanently sealed, but been there, done that too. Sometimes, if you can work through the frustration and take a deep breath, things do work out. But I had to laugh too. In sympathy.

Nancy Hughes
Jennifer Murtha I am still splitting my sides laughing over your 'conquest'. Your are one brave artist that totally takes care of the situation at hand!! In Spades!!!

Frans van Baars
The worst thing is start a new painting The best thing is start a new painting

Jennifer Kohn Murtha
It's the fear of going back to selling cars that keeps me going. :-) I adored doing it but times have changed....thank you!

Jennifer Kohn Murtha
Frans, have you seen that wonderful Rembrandt where he's standing at the front of the picture plane with a blank canvas and has an expression of fear on his face which is remarkable and universal.

Frans van Baars
No I have not,but I know that feeling

Dr. Terry Nybo
Great post...short, valuable and straight to the point!

Milton Loupe
This is excellent commentary on FEAR. I have no fear when it comes to experimentation. I have found if one does not experiment you will fall into a RUT and depression will absolutely follow. Have fun and look at all artist works.

Vianna...thank you for a great, very "to-the-point" article...advice that I have certainly read in some version or tone before, except that THIS time, I could listen to it w/o feeling lectured, just acknowledging the truth and breathing a sigh of relief that the consequences are truly NOT life-threatening, and a piece of paper/canvas is only holding me prisoner if I continue to let it, and view it as a "holy relic". And then Jennifer comes along and STABS her painting...and I laughed out loud as I realized how MANY of these "precious little monsters" I was nurturing....instead of feeding my inner self!! Thanks so much!

Barbara Brace
Wow! You are so on. Become fearless or nearly so and anything can happen. Burn or trash a few works and it is so freeing (New word? No word?).

Your painting glows from within.

Thank you for the post and the painting.

Walter Paul Bebirian
well - the absolute worst that can happen is that absolutely no on the world likes what you do - and that is fine - perhaps the entire population is not yet ready nor might they ever be ready for what it is that you are presenting them to view - however the population changes over time and then perhaps the thinking of the entire population becomes new and then someone there may actually begin to see what it is that you have been working on or towards at which time you may perhaps no longer be part of the population yourself either but you will have certainly lived your life in a way that was true to your potential and therefore gain some acknowledgement from someone down the line as opposed to being the person who worked about what other people liked or did not liked and did not fulfill your own potential -

Walter Paul Bebirian
and so what does this video tell you - percent20Johansson percent20Explains percent20Jeff percent20Koonsandutm_term=New percent20US percent20Newsletter percent20List

Vianna Szabo
Wow, what wonderful stories all of you shared! I am so glad you found this post helpful. I laughed reading how everything from blue tape to canvas stabbing gave you the freedom to move on and try something new. We are all on the same journey, enjoy the process, and keep on painting!

Sharon Weaver
I like to tell my students that every painting is just practice for the next painting. After all it isn't brain surgery; no one will die if this one isn't a masterpiece. Getting over the idea that you will ruin this painting is a great lesson too. Try to be in the process and not so invested in the outcome.

KR Moehr
HA! So true. I used to fret over whether a painting would turn out OK and was guilty of overthinking every move. Now I just do what feels right in the moment and figure, "Hey, I can paint over it. After all, isn't that what gesso is for?" Most often it's these "impassioned, carefree" moments that result in my favorite works!

Robert Palmer / RSVPalmer
Ahh, Yes the old nemesis, 'Fear' - I said 'Old' because once you have the answer it loses its power over you
- FEAR stands for - False Evidence Appears Real - and it's two relatives
- 'WORRY'- which is a sustained form of 'Fear' caused by indecision.
The other is 'PROCRASTINATION' - referencing one of My Quotes - "the time it takes to procrastinate eliminates the opportunity for developing new creativity"
reverse the power over you and take it back -

hope that helps everybody (Vianna) that is not aware of these solutions!

Vianna Szabo
Really good comments, Sharon, KR, and Robert. Letting go of fear is so important to growth. Fear is fed by worry and procrastination and action gets replaced by if only's....
I firmly believe that curiosity and action win over talent any day. Thanks for commenting on the blog!

Lena Breijer
It depends on the medium for me. Fabric - no problem! A piece of paper, especially "good" paper, and I am frozen. That comes from the days I was a child when paper was expensive and I used the backs of adds and printed news paper to make art. The margins of my note books were filled (and I got shit for it). Paper represents the need for perfection. Life drawing studio with their 5 minute drawings are exquisitely painful and difficult.
Every piece of paper is the only piece of paper in the world.

Chuck Middlekauff
I've painted over some, I've pitched some in the dumpster, and I've even looked at some with fresh eyes the next day, or the next week. Some were worth salvaging. I've even painted over some parts my wife thought were stunning. I don't think it's exactly fear, but the critic in me that comes out as I get to some part of the painting that isn't working out as I expected. The critic is sometimes right! Sometime he's not.


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