Just do your art and smile

Cinnamon-Scented Pinecones-Watercolor and Ink in Moleskine Sketchbook

Cinnamon-Scented Pinecones
Watercolor and Ink in Moleskine Sketchbook
© Rebecca J Stahr

In last Wednesday’s blog post “Everyone is an artist…What type of artist are you?”, Eightdecades blogger (http://storydoors.com) finished a very thought provoking reply to my article with the phrase “Just do your art and smile.” I love that thought. As artists, our inner critic is a nasty gremlin who is always complaining and comparing and we must learn to know his tricks and silence him before he gets the best of us.

When we were children, we never worried or self-conscious of our art or making mistakes, we just had fun. But as we became adults, self-criticism and comparisons started to creep into our lives and our creative expression.

“Am I doing this right?”
“What is expected of me?”
“I’m not a real artist!”
“I’m as good as that artist!”

The fear of making a mistake keeps us from being as creative as we could be and expressing ourselves authentically.

Just do your art and smile, to me means stop worrying about everyone else and just enjoy your own artistic journey. We are all creative beings and we all have a unique creative voice. No matter how hard we try to emulate another artist we admire, it will never be the same. Yes, other art does influence ours, but we should use it as an inspirational stepping stone for our own voice, not a comparison to how we measure up as an artist.

Creativity also takes courage! The fears of our inability only halt our achievement and true potential. To get past this, we need to embrace that fear in a positive way. Force yourself to be uncomfortable and fight mediocrity and knowing that in doing so you are growing and stretching.

Here are some tips that I use on silencing that inner-critic:

  1. Create regularly. Find your creative space, whether a studio or coffee shop or cozy chair and set aside a regularly scheduled date with your creative self.
  2. Think deeply. Keep a journal and write daily. Write about your successes and struggles and let your mind work them out in your writing.
  3. Celebrate little victories and don’t forget to remember how far you have come. Keep a “smile file” or box of all positive achievements and nice letters etc. Look through these occasionally when you need a boost.
  4. Pay attention to your thoughts. Are they critical or constructive. Vow that there is no room for self-criticism and learn to look at yourself through the lens of self acceptance and love.
  5. Re-Evaluate your values and definition of success. Make sure these are authentically yours. It is too easy for us to define ourselves but what we think others expect of us and lose site of what we personally value and your definition of success doesn’t have to be what the world tells you it is. Make it your own.

Do you wrestle with that inner-critic? What have been some of your successes in keeping it quiet. Has anyone ever given you a valuable piece of advice on authentically living an artists life? Please share your thoughts in the comments so we can all learn.

8 thoughts on “Just do your art and smile

  1. Thanks for a terrific post which met me as I came home from my studio(an old bomb shelter) which I haven’t visited for ages.Ttoo much guilt for not creating. I cleaned out a pile of junk threw it out with out a backward glance.I plan to go back tomorrow


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