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Feel the Fear or Feel the Love Instead

Yesterday I bought thirteen canvases. Six of them are sized 10"x 10" or smaller, and the rest are from 36"x 36"  to 48"x 60". As my husband pulled onto the highway to drive home, I was giddy with excitement. Acquiring the canvases felt like an achievement--an acknowledgment of everything I've been doing this year and what I plan to do next. I'm going BIGGER with my paintings, and my life!

As we continued heading home, I looked at the canvases in the back of the vehicle. My giddiness evaporated. Those canvases ARE big! I pictured my #16 brush (1.5" wide), the largest I own, moving across the canvas and how small of a mark it would make. Like on a computer screen, I imagined resizing one of my current paintings, pulling the corners out to fill the larger space, and I saw the resolution fall apart. My chest tightened and tears began to pool in my eyes.

"What's wrong?" Kevin asked.  "I don't know if I can do this," I replied. "Those canvases are big. That's what REAL artists use."  Kevin looked at me and said, "first of all, you CAN do this. And you ARE a real artist!" God bless my husband.

Since we left Massachusetts in pursuit of our dreams, I've struggled with what exactly my dream is. I want to share my love of Creation and make a living creating things that touch people's souls. I know that's pretty broad. In January, I decided to start this blog to inspire people to pursue their passions and dreams. I also began to promote my pet portraits, because the way owners see their pets is the way I see most animals (scorpions, spiders, and hyenas excluded).

So far this year I've painted 42 paintings, only four of which were larger than 12"x 12". It wasn't a conscious decision to paint small, just that the majority were commissioned paintings with the customer choosing the size. Over the past nine months, the constraint of those small canvases has become as comfortable as pajamas and sharing in the love between an owner and pet is just as wonderful. But when I visit a gallery, I miss seeing my paintings on gallery walls. And when I see unfathomable beauty in the way a goat turns its head, I want to share it with the world. This is when "imposter syndrome" rears its ugly head.

A few months ago I started a support group called Chattanooga Creatives, because I believe there are many "closet artists" out there who only need a place to be seen and heard. Rule number one in the group is: no judgment. People begin creating out of joy, but judgment often turns that joy into shame. That's the battle I'm fighting. Despite all the paintings I've made and shown and sold, and all the people who've told me how much they like my work, I still feel like I'm not a real artist. I'm holding myself up to some ideal that I'm not even conscious of.

But what if I paint all these large paintings and galleries aren't interested and no one likes them? Kevin said, "maybe you just start painting because you love what you're doing and forget the rest." He's right of course, love is the point after all. I am a real artist because I make my art with love. My husband believes I can do this. In fact, as Chase Reeves says, I can do it because I am doing! Doing it with lots of love. And now I'm going to do it even BIGGER!


Share your thoughts or comments and connect with me.  I share my most recent paintings and humble musings on Instagram and Facebook. You can find paintings available for sale there and on my website, as well as new prints available in my store. You can also commission a painting or pet portrait as a gift for yourself or a friend.  Another way to share the love!



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