Thursday, February 10, 2011

Drawing IS Scary!

A long time ago, in a small town far away, there lived a little girl who loved to draw. Some of her favorite things to draw were animals, plants, and maps.  Like most children, she had an overactive imagination and would effortlessly invent new creatures and environments, sometimes even entire worlds, in a single afternoon's recess. Her mind was open and free to explore the world around her. Unhindered by the judgement of others. She did not yet know that one person's drawings could be somehow better than another's, because that was something she have never been told.

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Towards the end of my high school career, my attention turned from art, where I was struggling to find direction and motivation, toward computer programming, which stimulated my logical mind. I fell in love with programming and - abandoning all other passions - was consumed completely. After getting my bachelors degree in computer science, I briefly considered continuing my education in art but I was offered a rare opportunity to join a local video game studio. Through my hard work, the support of great friends, and a long string of fortunate events, I have had (what I can only begin to describe) as a very fulfilling and successful career in software development for the video game industry.

Over the years my appreciation for art has expanded and matured, far surpassing my ability to create art, which has remained stagnant. Gradually, I began to hold the art of drawing in higher and higher regard. Until finally, I've fully placed the skill of drawing on an unreachable mental pedestal. 

It's been over a decade since I last enjoyed the act of drawing - unhindered by the judgement of others, and the even louder critic inside my own head. Now, when faced with the occasional drawing challenge, it seems like a daunting task, full of the potential for disappointment. 

Holding a pencil to a blank piece of paper brings all these fears and anxieties to the surface: My inner critic, constantly reminding me "what I already know", that "I lack the technical skills to draw my ideas", and how "disappointing it would be, to see my ideas executed by an amateur". My "Blaminator", blaming external circumstances: exhausting job, my lack of free time, I'm too tired, I have the wrong materials, or even just "the lighting is bad in here". And underneath it all, my inner child and her fear of failure, fear of judgement by others, fear of trying and discovering that "I just don’t have what it takes"

All these thoughts (yes, the "little voices") telling me to "stop", "no", "can't", "too hard", "do it later".  Saying anything they can think of to get me to stop trying, just walk away, and protect myself. And the sad truth is that 99% of the time, I listen to what they are telling me, and I believe these thoughts as "truths" because they come from inside my own mind.
For me, drawing IS scary.

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