Fear of the Page

art struggles news

I've seen a lot of advice around the internet on how to overcome fear of the blank page as an artist. I can totally see how that huge, unblemished white expanse that you spent your hard earned dollars on could be intimidating. Much more often however, I experience fear of the second layer. 

Putting down a beautiful first wash is easy. Watercolor's flow and mind of its own means it will do amazing things without much work from me. Deciding what to paint on top of that--without screwing the whole thing up--is hard! I often buckle under the pressure, and end up with stacks and stacks of paintings with only a first wash. 

In her book The Tao of Watercolor, Jeanne Carbonetti seems to have described me perfectly: "These people were all natural watercolorists...but...they seldom finished a painting unless the work had somehow managed to finish itself through happenstance." 

Watercolor is a harsh medium--it's transparent so it shows every mistake and hesitation. It's also a bit out of the artist's control because of how it flows. No two paintings will ever be exactly the same, even if you use the same colors and techniques and brushes. My preference of using palette knives means even less control, and even less likelihood that trying to recreate a successful initial wash will work. It's a blessing and a curse. I let the fear stop me too often, but I am trying to learn to trust that there are more good paintings in me. To trust that watercolor will continue to do surprising and delightful things even if i mess up a few (or even most!) of my attempts along the way.

What about you? Do you struggle more with fear of the blank page, or of ruining another layer? Let me know in the comments!


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