The self-doubts of an almost-artist

We all have our stuff: self-doubts and insecurities that plague our days and dreams, leaving in its wake a wasteland of abandoned aspirations and hopes... For me, the absolute baby stage of a watercolour piece - even before paint first touches paper - makes the worst of my self-doubts ooze out of the woodwork.

The Self-Doubtsies are not new to me.  Like most creatives, I wrestle with it often. My symptoms include (but are not limited to) the following:

1.  Avoidance of all artistic materials

2.  Morose, fearful worrying

3. Displacement behaviour, which includes, but is not limited to:
a)  Snacking
b)  Day-dreaming
c)  Snacking
d)  Napping
e)  Series-watching
f)  Snacking
g)  Blogging

While doing some research (yes - more displacement), I came across this fabulous article by writer Rory B. Mackay, entitled The Creative Life:  How to overcome self-doubt.  He shares some sound (and amusing!) advice about dealing with your "self-doubt monster".  This made me think about how I approach each new project and in turn, force myself to soldier on through multiple onsets of the dreaded Self-Doubtsies:

Before starting the painting-phase of a new photo-realistic watercolour artwork, I already feel totally overwhelmed and plagued with self-doubt. The task at hand just seems completely daunting... What follows is a combination of bribery (if you do this, you may do/have that) and threats (if you don't do this, you may not do/have that). When I finally do make a start, it is almost always a total disaster.

The hideous moment when paintbrush first touches paper, is what I not-so-affectionately refer to as "The Ugly Phase". Every single time I start a new piece, I think to myself, "I've lost it!". I am completely aware that it's illogical, but I talk myself into believing that, some time since the last time I painted, all my skills and abilities have dissipated into thin air. Again, on my good days I do realise I'm a crazy person...

Pretty soon I've worked myself up into a total frenzy, with a burning desire to collapse to the floor and remain in the foetal position, sucking my thumb, until my pathetic attempt at "art" disintegrates from extreme old age...

Instead, I make myself a cup of tea.

Ah, my old friend Cuppatea.  A loyal companion that can be trusted - time and again - to lull me into a calmer, warm-bellied, near-human-state, able to rethink recent delusions of life-altering, mind-shattering, soul-crushing failure.

Cuppatea soothes my broken spirits with subtle, rooibos-flavoured words of sympathy. Cuppatea fuels my mind with a boiling hot pep-talk of encouragement and determination. Cuppatea calls in his friend Cookie and they fill me up with a deep sense of anything-is-possible. And then Cuppatea insists that I take a photo of my less-than-average progress, and keep fighting the good fight.

Eventually disaster evolves into mediocrity, and mediocrity grows into possibility. And before I know it, all I have left of that horrible moment when I thought there was no way forward, is a bad photo of "The Ugly Phase" and a cold Cuppatea.

before and after of watercolour dung beetle painting

Padkos | Watercolour
Limited edition, archival quality prints available here.

before and after of watercolour elephant painting

Empathy | Original sold
Unfortunately, I don't have fine art prints available of this beauty...! I do accept a limited amount of commissions each year. Contact me early to secure your spot in my calendar.

before and after of watercolour sparring giraffes painting

Necking II | Watercolour
Limited edition, archival quality prints available here.

before and after of watercolour southern ground hornbill painting

Beauty | Original sold
Read more about this artwork in this fun blog post.

before and after of watercolour brown-hooded kingfisher painting

Expectation | Watercolour
Limited edition, archival quality prints available here.

before and after of watercolour kudu bull painting

The Gentleman | Watercolour
Limited edition, archival quality prints available here.

before and after of watercolour lioness running through water painting

Splash! | Watercolour
Limited edition, archival quality prints available here.

before and after of pen drawing of a lioness and her cub

Tenderness | Pen
Limited edition, archival quality prints available here.

before and after of watercolour meerkat painting

Lookout | Watercolour
Original available here.

Limited edition, archival quality prints available here.

before and after of watercolour pearl-spotted owl painting

Awake | Watercolour
Limited edition, archival quality prints available here.

before and after of watercolour rhino and oxpecker painting

The Sentinel | Watercolour
Limited edition, archival quality prints available here.

before and after of watercolour cape robin-chat painting

Early Bird | Original sold
Unfortunately, I don't have fine art prints available of this beauty...! I do accept a limited amount of commissions each year. Contact me early to secure your spot in my calendar.

before and after of watercolour warthog painting

5 O'Clock Shadow | Watercolour
Limited edition, archival quality prints available here.

before and after of watercolour and pen orange river white-eye painting

I told you so! | Watercolour & Pen
Limited edition, archival quality prints available here.

See more of my photo-realistic wildlife art in store here:



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