I woke up this morning thinking about being brave. I frequently find myself telling my students to Be Brave when I am guiding them down new and sometimes scary paths. This happens most often in my Stitch Journeys class where we bravely adjust our tensions and sew with the most difficult and dangerous threads and my Metal Explorations class where we courageously stitch metal to fabric and paper. I also tell myself daily to Be Brave! My newest journal cover pictured above is a reminder to be brave. Be Brave has become a motto of sorts, a mantra to repeat when I need some extra strength to conquer fear.
There is a lot of fear that comes with the task of making art. Fear that it isn’t good enough, fear that everyone will know that I don’t have formal art training, fear that no one will like my work, fear that I won’t like it, fear that my work won’t convey the feelings, thoughts and ideas that I want it to, fear I will be laughed at…an endless stream of fears! It would be much easier to take on some other daunting task like climbing Pikes Peak, training a rattlesnake to do tricks or start an art retreat business in a recession!
It seems a little silly sometimes to be fearful when making art. After all, there are many things in life that we need to be brave for that are much more life threatening; disease in ourselves or a loved one, war, protecting our family from harm, the loss of a job, or the death of someone special. Our country was founded by brave men and women who wanted to make big changes in our world. I am so thankful that they found the strength to be brave enough to create a new type of society that has become our wonderful country.
When we make art we are sharing part of our heart and soul with the world and that can be a very scary thing…maybe even scarier than creating a new country! When we make art, we lay out our emotions for the world to see and trample upon if they like.
Being Brave doesn’t have to be a solitary endeavor. I have a lot of help when it comes to being brave. My coach, mentor and friend Laura Cater Woods helps me by asking the questions that reveal the excuses I put in my path so I don’t have to be brave. My closest friends help me to be brave when they tell me what is good and bad about my work and when they cheer me on. My family helps be to be brave with their unquestioning support of everything I do. My students help me to be brave when they willingly pull on their own brave super stitcher capes and plunge forward onto the tasks I assign them. I also have my groups! I belong to 3 different fiber art groups. These groups, which I co-founded, all focus on exploring fiber art and growing as an artist. How can I possibly fail with so much support?
The reality is I will fail at some things. But, one thing I have learned in this first 50 years of my life is that while failure may sting at the time, in the long run it is not really a bad thing. Failure teaches us valuable lessons and makes us stronger, kinder and more compassionate. Failure helps to make us braver. With each failure we realize that we can survive, we can grow and we can improve. Be Brave~Make Art!
“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face... we must do that which we think we cannot." Eleanor Roosevelt