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Forest travels by Suzanne Belair

Forest travels
©2017Suzanne Belair
Acrylic on canvas 30 X 30 in

Today I am sharing a new painting finished in January. Forests are one of my favourite subjects and I really enjoy painting this new series.

 

The traveller is moving towards the other side of the trees, towards the future. So it is in life, where we are forced to move constantly and become someone new everyday of our life.
Change is constant and our travels through life are life changing. Learning something every day, being kind to others, progressing, building, changing ourselves or something.

 

Painting and writing are metaphors for life. We strive to do our best, we have to confront our fear of committing to color and shapes just as in life, we often fear committing to something, we fear making decisions.

 

A good example is related in a book I have been reading authored by Joseph T. Hallinan, “Why we make mistakes”. The author relates a scientific study that concluded that when faced with the choice, students prefer not change an answer on a test (i.e. prefer doing nothing) rather than make a decision to change their answer even when they suspected the change might end up being the right answer. In follow-up interviews, it was revealed that it is the notion of regret that influenced the students most. They were afraid of regretting taking the wrong action and they regretted less not taking action and leaving the wrong answer.

 

So often, we get stuck in this way in our life, being afraid to make a decision we might regret, we prefer not to do anything which in itself is a decision but is not perceived as such by the brain.

 

In conclusion, be bold, dare to step over the threshold into the unknown, for this is what life is all about. Travel fearlessly through your life’s forests.

 

Ref: Hallinan, J.T. 2009. “Why we make mistakes”. Broadway books. New York.

 

 

Site web Suzanne Bélair

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Enviroart par Suzanne Bélair

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©2015 Valerie Fafard

Photo©2015 Valerie Fafard

Love, love, love December 31st and January 1st , the two days of the year when all hope is permitted, when all options appear open and everything seems possible !

The time when dreams can be made and when the will to take the necessary steps to bring them to fruition is alive! Ahhh the New Year, the best time of the year !

Time to look back and think about everything positive that happened during the year and think about where we want to go. The perfect time to reflect on life.

During the week before, I finished a great book by David Bayles and Ted Orland on the perils and rewards of art making and called “Art and fear”. I simply love this book, and plan on applying its wisdom to my art-making in the New Year and forward.

artandfear

As artists, we are always pulled in different directions, pulled between what we want to do and what we THINK our audience wants to see. The book really brings home the contrast between our personal and emotional involvement in our work and that of the viewer who‘s appreciation of our work is not based at all on our motivations or history. Nor is it based on the time required to write an article, a book or paint a particular image. The main thing the viewer wants is to connect with the art in his/her own special way. But seeking approval, even that of our peers, is a trap since it puts a lot of power into the hands of someone outside of ourselves.

The book talks about the fear that invades us, that is ever present, the fear that transforms itself into procrastination, resistance to deadlines, irritation at a lack of time or at our materials, our surroundings, distraction over the achievements of others… Indeed fear of being open to outsiders, of showing ourselves raw, the fear of being too honest, the fear of rejection…

As we start this New Year, I want to forget about all these underlying fears, put them aside and move forward. I would like to learn to live with them, accept them but don’t let them control me.

The book is reassuring. We recognize ourselves in it, whether painter, sculptor, writer or performing artist. It talks about dry spells, a totally normal occurrence that happens to all of us. Unfortunately, we often tend to treat these as personal failures each time they occur, when we should simply accept them and continue with our art-making routine.

I know talking about routine is not very romantic but routine is what anchors our art in our day to day life. So for 2016, my plan is to get back into my routine of art-making and stick to it and not beat myself down if I don’t produce as much or as well as I would like.

It has become harder and harder for me to stick to a routine, especially since my October 2014 accident. I feel pulled in several directions and love to get together with friends and see my family. Art-making takes time away from all this. It is difficult to balance friendships, family and painting/writing time, on top of all other obligations and actions that we need to take on a daily basis. After all, life is full of priorities and presents us with a lot of opportunities and challenges.

When you are doing something, engaging into any activity, you necessarily forego something else. I don’t understand people that talk about boredom. For me, there are never enough hours in the day or days in the week to do all that interests me, all that I want to see, all that I want to love !

So, following my reflection of the last two days, I decided that today is my organizing day. I have made a few decisions this morning:

No more e-mails, social media or reading the news first thing in the morning. From now on, I will leave all my devices OFF until I have accomplished something on my “To do” list. This includes painting and/or writing everyday. Phone calls until then, will be limited to what needs to be accomplished that day.

I am planning to respect my time and force others to respect it too.

I am planning to respect my art and I, by only doing art that I care about. I basically do this already but sometimes, the temptation to produce for a show and letting our guard down on our ideas can be strong.

Happy New Year to all and Good self-reflection!

 

www.suzannebelair.com

www.facebook.com/SuzanneBelairArtist

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Fear (2)

I spoke of fear before: the raw feeling in the pit of the stomach, the cramps, the heart that starts racing without control.  But what do we do when we have these feelings and we don’t feel like we are afraid of anything tangible, what to do with the diffuse anxiety that cannot be identified and that just sits there, inside … There are some steps to help relieve the feeling. First of all, we have to come to the realization that the feeling is fear. This could take a while especially if the feeling is diffused and it just sits there like a lump, like a ghost inhabiting you. You don’t even know it is there. You just don’t feel good and you cannot identify why.

 

And then it clicks. It feels like fear. What am I afraid of? Once you realize you are afraid, it becomes easier to deal with the fear.

The first thing to ask is: What am I afraid of? Am afraid of someone, something, of failure, of success, of a situation? I find it useful to take pen to paper to write down the answers that pop up when I ask the question.

 

Once you’ve acknowledged what scares you, you have to prepare yourself mentally to deal with the fear. Accept the fact that you are fearful. It is not a sign of weakness. Acknowledging you are fearful, looking at your fear in the eye brings you closer to finding a solution.  It is useful to think about ways to deal with the fear. What actions can you take to relieve the apprehension, to feel like there is no longer a danger, a threat? For example if you are afraid of an outcome, write down the steps you can think about that would insure you get the proper result and, above all, take immediate action on the first step. Taking action will instantly relieve some tension as it gives you the feeling you are taking control of the situation. Finally, make the decision to trust your instinct and in what the future will bring you. Make the decision to have faith and stop stressing, knowing you have done everything possible to insure a good result. Some circumstances will always be out of your control. That is life. This is an aspect of life that brings good surprises too

 

We are all sometimes afraid of the unknown. This is why we try to control our destiny, our life, but we have to welcome the unknown. This is the flow of life. We must not be afraid and continue in our journey of learning. We must open ourselves to what life and circumstances are bringing us and look at opportunities as ways to improve ourselves and our knowledge.

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Early in the morning… I am usually walking at this time but this morning, my walking buddy was not feeling too good and I too was sore anyhow so I am a bit glad that I had a reason not to go. I will do some yoga later to try to stretch that body of mine that is fighting me lately.

At least, I started meditating again yesterday and it did me good. I will try to keep it up even if there is always something else to do, which is taking me to what I want to talk about today:

Resistance and control.

 

First of all, for about 6 months now, I have felt like my energy is being blocked. I don’t know why. I feel out of sort. It’s like I’m trying to push through something but my head gets stuck against some kind of flexible membrane that will not break and I am stopped from bursting out… I don’t know… I feel the membrane stretching but it does not rupture. Figuratively, I suppose I am trying to be born into something different, something better, freer and more creative.

 

There is so much I want to do but at the same time, I am afraid it will not work and I feel there is never enough time. Furthermore, life has been trying to show me that I am not in control of anything lately. I do not control what is around me, my kids (their moods, their lives: I just want them to be happy), my friends, my projects, events around me, nothing. All kinds of curves are being thrown my way. And I like control. I admit I like when things go the way I want. But who doesn’t? This has not been happening lately.

 

Resistance: I came across a good exercise about resistance the other day and it made me think a big part of my wasted energy is going into fighting my own resistance. When you are trying to do something you want to do but somehow, the whole day goes by and you haven’t done it. What is happening? The exercise consists in trying to hear the voices in our heads, identify them, and see how they influence our lives. That never ending tape: Parents’ voices, old friends’, people from the past, old teachers and mentors, sometimes only a comment or a smirk coming from a pure stranger but that, somehow, that day, affected us because we felt vulnerable. Voices from the past that still affect our lives today, that push us down, that slow us down, that change where we are heading, what we are becoming. Why do we stay with these voices, why do we tend to listen and believe what is negative instead of positive?

 

What does it have to do with control? A lot because we should not let these voices from the past control how we react to things today.

 

I have read somewhere that life is all an illusion anyhow, a story we tell ourselves through our perception of what is going on around us. If we are telling ourselves a story, why not tell ourselves a good one? How many of us do not believe in compliments but accept without question any negative comments?

 

I realized yesterday that life was trying to teach me a lesson, a very valuable one at that. I have known for a long time that you do not control anything but your reactions to any event, to what is around you, to life. But I also have tried to fight this. I like control. Even if I am sometimes myself out of control in my habits, my home, especially my painting room… which is a mess most of the time, I try to feel like I have some kind of control over events around me. I try to make people happy,  I try to influence (what a shame) my environment All this is always with good intentions really, but I realize these good intentions are according to my own values and ideas. Like I want the world to smarten up and reduce pollution and protect the earth. I want the government to stop the exploitation and expansion of tar sands which is totally motivated by greed. I cannot understand whatsoever why human beings feel they have to destroy the earth in order to survive. It makes no sense to me and I don’t see how people don’t realize that with no earth, there will be no life, or money, or comfort, so what’s the point?  Where is the voice of reason?

 

I naturally assume people are acting in goodwill but have found lately that it is not so. People are acting more out of fear than out of reason or goodwill. Fear of not having what they want, fear of not being loved, fear of losing control. Fear and greed… I very often feel lost in that world that is so different from what I am. I still think that peace and love will win out. I still hope for it. I just can’t figure out where the world is going right now, or how come nobody wakes up and respect one another.

 

Does is have to do with evolution and the survival of the fittest? Because as I see it, the fittest is also the meanest and the greediest. And it is all about control at this point.

 

 

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