Creation Anxiety: The Fear of Making Art

Since I posted yesterday it has really sunk in, the only thing stopping me from making art is myself. I feel totally liberated. How exhausting it has been to lay blame everywhere. It’s not my schedule or my health, my family or my house, it’s me. Or perhaps it would be better to say it’s something in me. That something is fear.

The act of creation is so overwhelming and terrifying that sometimes I cannot physically bear it. I have to run away, turn on the TV or read email just to escape. True creation is one of the most intimate acts a person can experience. It is a direct connection with the Divine, like plugging in to an electrical socket. One could easily liken the fear of making art to the fear of death. It is the profound fear of loss of self, of annihilation in the Godhead.

While making art, an artist opens themselves completely to God. The creative energies of Above wash through them, merging and mingling with the artist’s heart. The resulting work is the fusion of created matter with Spirit. This is the job of the artist: to bring Spirit into the material world. An artist cannot help but be transformed by the process and the prospect of such a profound transformation is terrifying because it is not directed by the self but by God.

Yesterday and today I waded in to fear so deep that I thought I wouldn’t find my way back out. I wanted to jump out of my skin. I almost ceased to function because I was so overpowered with anxiety. So I dialogued with my fear, drawing it every couple hours. As I drew, I entered deeper into relationship with this fear and began slowly to understand it. I began to feel affection for it in an odd sort of way. I could see how this fear has literally shaped my life by controlling my actions. It now feels like a benevolent, but misguided friend trying to protect me. By understanding it, I have gained freedom. Freedom of movement and more freedom to engage with the Divine. I am ready once again for that full bodied devotion with which I practiced art 20 years ago (when I was too young to know fear) where every waking moment is met as a chance to create. I feel that hunger again to drink from the spring of Eternally creativity and to fill a cup to pass along.

Here are my sketches engaging my fear.

Wednesday 2:00pm
Fear at 2:00pm

Wednesday 4:00pm
Fear at 4:00pm

Wednesday 7:30pm
Fear at 7:30pm

Wednesday 10:00pm
Fear at 10:00pm

Thursday 12:00am
Fear at 7:30am

Thursday 7:30am
Fear at 12:00am

Thursday 1:00pm
Fear at 1:00pm

Thursday 5:00pm
Fear at 5:00pm

Thursday 6:00pm
Fear at 6:00pm

Update:
Friday 3:00pm
Fear at 3:00pm

One Response “Creation Anxiety: The Fear of Making Art”

  1. Michael says:

    Wow, this really applies to me! Talk about the gift/curse dichotomy. I think that this fear comes not from the potential failing in making a piece of art or design (by failing I mean failing to get close to the concept I see or feel internally) but what that “failing” might mean. Upon some reflecton, the fear is really the fear that I possibly have no talent, no vision, and maybe have reached an end to my creative resources — or something to that effect. I was working on a project recently and my mind kept playing that “what if I can’t…?” over and over again and so I decided to try and consciously access what that fear was really saying. What I was getting was that I love creation and it’s an integral part of my life – what if I don’t have it anymore? And what will I be then?

    That’s about all the insight I have. Exploration of that possibility isn’t something I want to do – my reason knows that this isn’t the case. I’m not going to wake up one day and not have it. Just PLEASE tell that to the limbic part of my brain! Hopefully, this will be an interesting expansion on your article and may help others think about this obstacle.

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