A lesson in the creative process, self-doubt and taking chances.
At the beginning of this year the local Indian American Association posted a call for entries for images to use in their promotion of the Indian spring festival, HOLI.
I attended the festival last year and had an amazing time. It was a wonderful experience and a great introduction to Indian culture. So when I saw they were looking for artwork for this year’s festival, I decided to give it a try.
I looked through my photographs from last year and found inspiration in the figure of an outstretched hand. I started with that and drew an image of Indian-styled swirls of color coming from the hand.
As I spent my evenings coloring the drawing in with watercolor pencils, doubt crept in. “I don’t remember how to use these. This isn’t turning out how I thought it would. Nobody’s going to think this is any good. Surely someone will come up with something better.” These are the kinds of thoughts every artist struggles with. Sometimes it takes as much courage to paint a picture as it does to climb a mountain.
I finished the drawing and turned it in. All of the entries were posted on the association’s facebook page. In the end, another design was chosen for the posters and t-shirts but what happened on the facebook page taught me a lesson. The “likes” started pouring in. I watched as my image got 25, 40, 80 and by the end as much as 105 “likes.” The others got as high as 30 or so. This little display of validation was good for me. It wasn’t about external approval or competition. It was just a little lesson in trying. It taught me to always try, to take risks, to be myself, create art, manifest my vision. Just do. Because when I take action by being my best self, it’s good and people will respond to it and beauty will be created and spread.
postscript: The design was used the following year on the t-shirts and posters. And in 2015, students used pieces of the artwork, cut them up and shaped them into dancing figures for that year’s t-shirts.