Monday, March 19, 2012

Facing Your Fears

Quick warm-up sketch, Pencil and Watercolor 3/19/12
I want to talk about making your weaknesses and fears into your strengths.

Senior year at BYU. My teacher tells me, "Shawna, you don't understand how to make a good compositions. You can't put everything smack dab in the middle of the paper. You need a forground, middle ground and a background." Click. It finally clicked. Fast forward a couple years to a children's lit conference. Brett Helquist is talking about composition. He said one thing. "Use diagonals to make good dynamic compositions." Click. Why does it sometimes just take a few words for something to click when all your friends and teachers have been trying to tell you something about your artwork for years?!

When I graduated from college I thought I was ready to dive into a career as an acrylic painting illustrator. I was pretty sure I had my style where it needed to be- after all it had taken me 5 years of college to finally figure out where I was going! Little did I know that I would learn so much more out of school than I had in school.

When I graduated from school, there were a few things I was scared of. #1 thing I was scared of: the computer. #2 Thing I was scared of: watercolors. I believed the only thing I was really good at was acrylics.

Fast forward 8 years. What mediums am I using in my current work? My number one medium is the computer. How did I get there? I realized that acrylics were way to slow for what my deadlines demanded. I had always wanted to use the computer, but I had been to afraid of using it because of all of my failures and lack of knowledge I had experienced during school. So I faced my fears. I asked a couple of friends to share their knowledge with me. Then I jumped right in and started using the computer. Whenever I saw something I liked that a friend was doing on the computer, I would ask them how they did it. And so my skills multiplied. Now the computer is my number one medium- and much better suited for the demands of my schedule and family.

As mentioned before, I was also afraid of watercolors. But then I decided I liked how they looked. They are also a much faster medium than acrylics. So I dove right in and started trying them out in my sketchbook. Now I am using them in part with my digital painting. I plan on continuing to learn more about watercolors and improving my skills with that medium.

Did I mention that I used to be scared of teaching other people art? I didn't know where to begin.  This year I decided it was time for me to stop being afraid of teaching other people art. So I asked some friends for advice on how they started teaching art to children. I went to my friends house and she showed me art projects she had done with kids and gave me some great tips. I started finding great ideas online from other art teachers. So I dove right into teaching an art class for kids out of my house, and I love it.

Maybe my point is humility. Maybe you need to humble yourself and ask your friends for a critique or advice. And really listen. And listen again. And then change. Your friends will help you make your weaknesses into strengths. If you are scared of something, face that fear, and jump right in. If you don't make the leap, you will never leave the ground.

Two more things that I am scared of but plan to face head on in the very near future: Mural painting and ebooks. Here's to a great future for all of us in taking those leaps and facing our fears!

Don't forget to enter my give-away that will end Wednesday March 21st at midnight.


Manelle said...

fun mural painting. I can't wait to hear that story.

I like this post it's got some great insight on just taking things one at a time.

Joanne Roberts said...

Illustration is definitely about facing your fears. You have to push yourself to question every aspect of your illustration. You have to quiet that inner monologue that is telling you about everything you can't do. But you also have to control the voice that tells you everything you do is great! I guess that's where the humility comes in. Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

Shawna said...

Thanks for your comments and adding to my post. Yes, it is about taking one thing at a time and humility.