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Leaving Lines Behind

Overcoming Fears

I met with Bonnie, my teacher from the Artistica boot camp, for a one-on-one a few days ago. We talked over many things, and it was a great example of how uncomfortable I am standing (in person) by my art. The internet is a whole other business. Blogs are safe because you don’t have to watch the thoughtful “Hmmmms” from across the table and wonder if they are positive, negative, or truly neutral.

One big thing from the meeting (and it was overall incredibly thought provoking and therefore positive) was that I am no longer a beginner. That was one of the most definitive things she said. “You may need to retire that line.”

At first, I felt a wave of joy. Yes! All the hard work has finally paid off, I’m no longer a beginner.

But then the fear of that reality struck. Beginning is this wonderfully safe place. Everyone is friendly in the beginner’s circle. People want to help you in the beginners circle. They know that beginners need patience and praise. And beginners get to let things slide. Oh that didn’t work? “It’s OK, you’re a beginner. You’re still learning.”

But an intermediate artist? I don’t know what that means. Beginners are defined by their beginning-ness. What is the definition of being an intermediate artist? You’re no longer new to everything, but you’re also not yet fantastic at anything. You can’t hide behind a label.  No one says, “Oh man, please be patient with me, I’m an intermediate.”

I hadn’t realized how much I enjoyed the beginner label until I peeled it off. Because here I am declaring it. I am an intermediate painter. And now, step two, is figure out what the hell that means. Image note: Art from my new intermediate-ness.


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