Creativity requires introspection, self-examination, and a willingness to take risks. Because of this, artists are perhaps more susceptible to self-doubt and despair than those who do not court the creative muses.
This new painting, 8″ by 10″ on panel, is called Canyon of Doubts. For me, it represents the navigation that takes place in the creative process as the artist tries to get past the formidable obstacles of self doubt. Doubt often throws up barriers that has the artist asking if they are good enough, if they have the talent, training, and drive to create true art that speaks for them to the world. Doubt makes them fear that they are out of place, that they don’t belong, that every other artist has more right to create than them.
Doubt keeps the artist seemingly boxed in with no apparent way forward.
Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother.
I’ve been trapped in that canyon many times. I’ve thought many times that there was no way out, that the fears posed by my doubts were the realities of who and what I was.
I have always felt alone with my doubts. Words of encouragement from others often felt hollow when I was lost in those canyons. They didn’t know how steep the walls of doubts seemed to me or how inadequate, how ill-prepared I felt in that moment.
The only option that seemed available to me was to trust that I could somehow fight my way out of those daunting canyons. It would mean mustering every bit of talent, every ounce of energy, and a sustained belief that I deserved to have my voice rise from out of those canyons. It was matter of either having the faith in my own value as human to find my way free or withering away in a canyon of doubts.
Your doubt can become a good quality if you train it. It must become knowing, it must become criticism.
–Rainer Maria Rilke
I still find myself in those canyons. I still find myself periodically looking up at the walls that surround me and wonder if I am talented enough, strong enough, or even entitled to escape them.
But I now know that there is a path through them, one that is well worn with my own footprints from my past journeys in that shadowed place. I know that, even though it is lonely and seemingly unbearable in that moment, I don’t have to be trapped in that place of doubt.
I’ve traveled this path and there is indeed a way out.
It takes time and effort and devotion. It takes the belief in yourself, forged from past experience, that you will make the right decisions and not be trapped in those walls. It’s in having the faith that when take a wrong turn, when you make a mistake, that you will recognize it and get quickly back to the path that sets you free.
At the moment, I may well be in that canyon still but I have the moon guiding me and its light shows me where the canyon ends.
And then I will be free once more.