New challenges, new art for sale, and the old inner critic

Posted by Linda Matthews on January 21, 2013

As an artist, I love nothing more than to explore and experiment with new techniques and products. I love discovering new creative connections that turn into new processes or techniques that I can use to enhance my art. I’m not always excited by what emerges because sometimes it’s a total failure, however I am often surprised by what I learn, because life – and art – really is all about the journey and what you learn along the way.

So I was excited to join up recently with a project called Art to the Edge which challenges you to push your art in new directions by creating 100 pieces of art with the idea being that during the process of creating these pieces, there results an organic progression of your art through various stages:
- the first 25 are things you’ve already done
- the second 25 are things you’ve already seen
- the third 25 are things you already thought of
- and the last 25 are new ideas

So as someone who already loves to experiment and explore new ideas, I thought this would be an ideal project to carry me through the year and take my art to a new level. But surprisingly I found it difficult to get started.

The inner critic

Starting something new is very often an open invitation to the inner critic – you know, the voice in your head that says stuff like … “who do you think you are to want to try something new?” and “who do you think you are to even think you could ever have a new original idea?” and “you don’t have enough time to be doing stuff like this, you should be doing more important stuff” … and the dozens of other self-defeating excuses that just seem to pop up in that whiny, annoying internal voice.

I haven’t faced the inner critic for quite some time, probably because I’ve been too busy doing the things I love, safe and cozy in my comfort zone. But now when it’s time to step out and away from the safety of my comfort zone and try something new, this gives the inner critic the perfect opportunity to sit up and take notice because it rarely likes to try big, new things. And attempting to change the way I make art, to push it in new directions, is definitely a big new thing.

But what it was that really got my inner critic going was my flawed thinking that to begin this project I should make great big leaps in my art and take great big chances and make great big changes – all at once – right up front. A recipe for disaster in so many ways. No wonder I woke up the beast.

How to deal with it

I’ve dealt with the inner critic in various ways over the years, but these days instead of trying to find ways to make it stop, or trying to exorcise it from my head, I choose to find common ground – a place of compromise where the inner critic doesn’t feel threatened. Because let’s face it, that whiny voice will *always* be with us, and I really believe it’s just a small part of our inner self that’s designed to keep us safe from whatever surprises, successes, criticisms or failures that are waiting for us once we step outside our comfort zone and try something new.

So I changed the way I was going to approach this project, and instead of diving in and trying to make great big changes all at once, I chose to begin with the familiar – working with techniques I know and trust. While there might be no big surprises (at least to start with), it provides a place to begin that has a good solid foundation and with the potential for growth and expansion.

So my first piece is predictable. But next time I’ll change something. Or add something. Or remove something. One small thing. Because small risks are less scary than taking huge risks, and it’s been my experience that very often small steps are all you need to take in order to make big changes.

In The Pink

So here is my first piece for the challenge and I titled it “In The Pink”. It’s an 8″ x 10″ quilt on canvas made from a digital photo art design printed on fabric, quilted, hand embellished and then wrapped around a stretched canvas. I like the way it turned out. It’s a good representation of the work I currently do and a successful first piece of art for this project.

Digital Art Quilt on Canvas

Digital Art Quilt on Canvas

Digital Art Quilt on Canvas

Digital Art Quilt on Canvas

Categories: Digital Art, Fabric and Thread, In The Store, Printing on Fabric

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  1. Linda,
    I just LOVE your blog! Art historian Robert Hughes once wrote:
    “The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted the less talented as a consolation prize.”

  2. Thank you very much for the free ebook Free-machine-quilting-patterns

    It gave me the perfect line quilting for a crib quilt I am making for my grand niece. and
    great ideas for future projects too.
    Oh by the way I am a lone quilter far away from Sabah, Malaysia. on the island of Borneo to be precise.
    once again thanks a lot for the ebook

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