Today, I want to talk about the things artists tell themselves. Those preconceived notions that hold us back.
Let me explain by using myself as an example.
The Things Artists Tell Themselves
I spent over forty years drawing and painting portraits of horses. I was confident doing head studies, full body portraits, and action scenes. There wasn’t a horse I didn’t feel capable of drawing.
But put a rider in the saddle or add a buggy or carriage, and I was a bundle of insecurity!
In reality, I should have been able to draw the person or equipment with the same confidence with which I drew the horse. I had the skill to draw horses, so there was no reason I couldn’t also draw people or equipment.
So I avoided drawing people or equipment whenever possible. When I had to include a person or a buggy or whatever, I struggled.
The Big Lie
In novel writing, one of the things the novelist must decide is what lie each character believes. Often referred to as The Big Lie, this belief keeps the character from achieving a goal.
The Big Lie might be something the person heard as a child. It may be the result of a failure or misunderstanding. The character may realize it’s a lie, but more often, it’s subconscious.
Artists are the same way. Actually every person is that way. There is something I believe about myself that’s not true, and there’s something you believe about yourself that’s not true.
As I get older, I can more clearly see my Big Lie was that I couldn’t draw people or technical things. I’ve done both, now. I know I can draw people, and I can draw technical subjects.
They are more difficult because I’m not familiar with them, but when I apply the same skills that help me draw horses to these other subjects, I can draw them.
Big lies apply to what we think we can draw and what we think we can’t draw.
They apply to what we think we can and cannot accomplish with our art. They also apply to turning hobbies into businesses, or any other worthwhile endeavor.
What’s the Solution?
My husband has cited Henry Ford to me often enough that I sometimes hate the quote I used below. But it is true. That’s another thing I’m learning as I get older (and hopefully wiser.)
Whether I think or can, or think I can’t, I’m right.
And so are you.
The solution is two-fold and both parts can be difficult. Very difficult.
The first step is to be totally honest with yourself and identify the Big Lie you believe about yourself or about your ability. Get past the things that are skills you have yet to acquire.
For example, if you believe you can’t shade smooth color, that’s a skill you can acquire with time and practice.
But if you believe you can’t learn to shade smooth color, that’s a lie you’re telling yourself.
Do you see the difference?
Back to my example, I believed I couldn’t draw people or equipment and that was a lie. I proved it was a lie by drawing people and equipment.
The truth was I didn’t have the skill or determination to draw those things. Another truth was that I didn’t want to try drawing them because they were hard.
So ask yourself the following questions and fill in the blanks as they fit you.
I believe I can’t draw ___________________.
I believe I can’t draw ___________________, but I can learn how.
The first is the lie. The second is the truth and a plan of action.
If you don’t think you believe any Big Lies, then you’re either miles ahead of the rest of us or….
…maybe that’s the Big Lie you believe about yourself.
Think about it.
The Things Artists Tell Themselves
I decided to publish this post today because I’ve learned over years of blogging that if I struggle with something, some of my readers also struggle with it.
Self imposed obstacles and the things artists tell themselves (that aren’t true,) are some of the biggest hurdles we have to get over if we really want to succeed.
And I hope you do want to succeed.