This memory from eight years ago popped into my day and could not possibly have come at a better time. I have never been formally trained as an artist. I have collected skills along the way. I have taken a class here, bummed a lesson there, and primarily learned through trial and error. Insecurity was often overcome by either getting stuck in a commitment I believed was beyond my skills and simply having to figure it out or the irresistible draw of the creative process.
The blank canvas in this picture was a daunting commission for me. It was the first time I had been asked to paint a structure. Three days into it, I was brain-dead from trying to figure out all of the angles and math.
Drawing has always been my weakest art skill. I believed I could not draw for years, and that insecurity kept me in knots. The first mural I ever did was an underwater ocean, and I used an overhead projector for most of the drawings. (yes…it was FOREVER ago). Once I had a rough sketch, I could relax and let the paint flow freely from my brushes. However, as the mural came together, I realized there was a blank space that needed a sea turtle--except I didn't have a sea turtle to project on the wall. We didn't have smartphones back then, so I couldn't google inspiration. I just drew it. I didn't let myself overthink it or give insecurity time to take root. I just drew a turtle, and even now, that turtle is my favorite turtle I've ever drawn. Since painting 'Sally the sea turtle", I have never 'cheated' on a drawing again. Fear was exposed as a liar, and I trusted myself to freehand--until this structure piece.
I couldn't get the depth to pop. I couldn't SEE it in 3D. Fortunately, Brad's an incredible sketch artist who had art classes throughout his life. He saw me in a puddle of tears, sat down with a yardstick, and quietly sketched it out.
Over the next year or so, he sketched all of the churches, houses, and buildings I painted. For several years after that, I would send him pictures of my drawings, and he would pause his own work to help me adjust until it was perfect.
When I looked at this picture, I realized I didn't see insecurity. I saw the value of having a support system. I realized that overcoming sometimes takes help. I would have quit if Brad hadn't helped me back then. I didn't have enough confidence in what I actually was good at to be able to overcome my weaknesses. Insecurity would have won. Looking at the joy art layers in my life, I am overwhelmed by what my insecurities could have cost me.
I am still enjoying the shock of how far I've come since this day. I didn't even realize until I saw this memory how long it's been since I needed his help to get the sketch right.
I think I tend to forget those quiet times he bent to help, creating a solid bridge so I could head in the right direction. I imagine it would bless us all to reflect on how we have moved beyond insecurities in our past: remember who was there, doing what they do well, acting in kindness, offering support, etc. Isn't it amazing how that puts enough gas in our tank to keep us striving towards our dreams, goals, and passions? I hope I have been that for other people. I want to be that for other people.
Insecurity is not interested in being outgrown. Mine have been flaring up a lot lately. This little memory has been so encouraging. What insecurity do you need to overcome and silence? They can sneak up on you if you aren’t on guard for them. Today, I will remember. I'm thankful I was willing to be vulnerable enough to document the process that helped me overcome insecurities past. I will set my mind to overcome them once again, knowing that truth will never be found in my fears.