Blog / 2020 / How To Love Your Art #5: Figure Out What Worries You Most

Feburary 20, 2020

A few days ago in the “how to love your art” blog series, we talked about finding little love connectors with your practice, and today we’re doing the opposite.

If you want to be truly confident about your art, you need to face the things that make you doubt your work.

At the start of my career, I was scared of the idea that people might see my art as self-indulgent. This anxiety shaped my art practice, leading me to make only portraits for the first few years. I figured that if I was painting other people, then people couldn’t paint me as a narcissist.

And I was right! Instead, my focus on portraiture became its own cause for judgment. Multiple critics ridiculed my subjects—calling them self-involved—and many more saw my love of painting people as superficial. I wasn’t thrilled that these art writers and journalists were making fun of my chosen genre, but they weren’t poking me in my most vulnerable spot, so I survived their critiques and found my voice. These days, when someone sees my work as self-indulgent, it doesn’t bother me.

I am not recommending that, like me, you build your practice in such a way as to insulate yourself from your worst fear. Rather, I’m suggesting that it’s only when you are aware of what specifically concerns you that you can actually deal with it.

What do you worry about in your art?

Are you afraid that your work will be seen as irrelevant, too personal, shallow, not serious, or not skillful enough? Do you worry that you will be seen as a show-off or that other artists will reject you? Are you nervous that your art might be misinterpreted in a harmful way? When you are able to clearly define your concerns, it is easier to confront them.

Like most artists, my skills are uneven. I know that simple single-subject compositions are where I thrive as a painter. Anything as complex as this album cover I created for a friend falls way outside of my comfort zone, and I am glad that I know this about myself. Recognizing the challenge of this sort of image is ultimately what allows me to design and paint it with confidence.

album art with a world of animals, plants, and people dancing around a yin and yang symbol
Gwenn Seemel
Awake to the Dream
2020
acrylic on panel
10 x 10 inches

If you want to commission your own album cover or “dream painting”—which is any image that’s not a portrait of a person, pet, or home—check out the pricing here.

two people and a cat dancing, painting by Gwenn Seemel
detail of Awake to the Dream

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