Insecurity — Looking around never makes it any better

20 Jan

One time, when the Norwegian Artist was teaching a beginning watercolor workshop, one of the students looked about and said, “I must be the only true beginner in here. Look at everyone else — they all have so many paintbrushes and so much paint!”

It’s interesting the different conclusions we come to based upon the same observations.

When the Norwegian Artist — who has one, very expensive watercolor brush that he uses pretty much exclusively — sees brand new plastic carriers filled with a plethora of lightly used paint tubes and a bouquet of brushes and other tools, he thinks,

“I wonder how much they actually paint versus the time they spend organizing and arranging their materials?”

More than one of the Norwegian Artist’s students, and frequently a number of them in the same class, approach him privately and apologize for being the only true beginner in the class, and his response is a variation on the theme:

“It doesn’t matter where you’re starting from, it matters that you’re going someplace.”

And interestingly, many of the people who are self-conscious about being the only beginner, once they drop the fear of that (whether or not it is true) wind up learning a tremendous amount and progressing far on their journey as artists, simply because they know that they have much to learn and they’re willing to set about doing so.

Because we’re all human, we all have our moments of insecurity, but looking around and comparing our situation (which we know quite well) to our impression of other people’s situation (about which we know very little) unnecessarily compounds the problem, and indeed, can actually block us from our goal of progressing beyond the present.

Workshops and classes are great opportunities to learn, and if you find one that fits your needs and learning style, go for it with enthusiasm and abandon, unhindered by comparison with the other students in the room. After all, when you’re looking about, you’re not looking ahead.

The more difficult the road, the more important that we keep our eyes in front, not to the side, of us. Crawl Hollow Late Afternoon by Steve Henderson

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