A little while back I got a chance to play volleyball with some girls I had been coaching. Parents were watching. I hadn’t warmed up my arm and my back was tight that day. I hadn’t planned on playing volleyball, but turning down a chance to play with girls is not in my nature. I stood back and bounced the ball three times. I was ready to serve, but the critic of my brain took over. “You are gonna miss. You aren’t warmed up. You are gonna choke. People are watching.” Sure enough, the ball went right into the net.
The next day I went to a pastel workshop with Margaret Dyer. I am a huge fan. Seeing her work is breathtaking. She makes it look so easy. There were other accomplished artists there. The voices began. “You aren’t really an artist. You started too late. You don’t have time to complete this painting. You are an imposter.” I listened, then started dishing it right back out. “Yes, I am. I have painted from live models many times. Yes, I can do this. Yes, I am tough. I can work in a crowd. I know how to use color. I know how to express myself. I am a real artist.”
Painting is a lot like playing volleyball. Most of it is a total head game. Sometimes I have to wage war against the internal critics, the voices, the negativity. I have to be mentally tough. I have to talk back and not give up.
This won’t be the last battle. There will be many more. My answer gets stronger to the barrage of doubt. “Bull,” I will say. Then I will serve one over the net and I will paint with confident expression.