Saturday, June 13, 2009

Sculpting a Life:
Susan Gallacher-Turner’s turn in the Pacific Northwest.

Fear and Art: How to be fearful and creative.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes, fear swoops into my mind, my studio, my life and knocks me off my feet. I don’t like it. Not one bit.

What do I do? I get out my boxing gloves and try to beat it into submission. The only problem with that is, I wind up beating myself up and I’m tired of the bruises. Or I run, as fast as I can, trying to get away. I get busy, busy, busy with email, chores around the house, running errands. The problem with that is, the fear follows me anyway.

What I’ve come to find out is that fear and creativity seem to go hand in hand. I’m not the only one who feels the terror of the creative life and what’s even weirder is that it doesn’t seem to matter if you’ve just had a success or a failure with your art. The fear is there anyway. Add this ridiculous economic roller coaster ride we’ve all been on lately and no wonder many of us feel the need to put our heads between our knees.

Ok, so what can I do about it? I know I don’t want to feel this way anymore…maybe I can’t eliminate fear entirely, but surely, there’s a better way. So I went in search of answers although there are many out there, I wanted to ask the people in the trenches, artists and writers how they deal with the fear. This is what I found out.

My friend, Patrick, says when the terror gets him, he goes out into his garden and sits for a while. When his heart rate slows down, he goes back into the studio and works. My writer friend, Susan, uses acceptance to pull her through the fear and back onto the page. Laurel takes a walk in the park. Janice goes out and works in her garden. Michael feels the fear and moves on.

I moved on, too. This week, when my life felt like a ride on Space Mountain, I went into the studio anyway. I got out the clay and pushed it around for awhile. Then I cut out a piece of screening and pushed it around, too. I layered yellow, ochre, white and black on my owl and lion masks. Today, I cut and rolled aluminum into lilies and leaves. Even though there was music playing, it was quiet and peaceful in my mind. The ‘fear’ roller coaster stopped. Finally.

I didn’t have to fight or flee. I just had to show up, get out my clay, metal and paint. How simple is that? The way out of my fear is to create.

How do you deal with your fear? Leave a comment, so we can all help each other.

I saw this on TED talks. Author, Elizabeth Gilbert, talks about anxiety and “A different way to think about creative genius.” It helped me. Give it a listen and let me know if it helps you.

To see more of my art visit my website at or my other blog, Susan’s Art & Words at and my new Voices of Living Creatively at

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