Art & Design

Overcoming Fears One Canvas at a Time

One of the scariest things I’ve ever done is paint on canvas. I’m not professionally trained, and the thought of painting anything so permanent was daunting. However, put a craft in front of me, and my fingers itch to try it. I learned two things the day I put paint to canvas: One, it’s a lot less scary than it looks, and two, it’s a surprisingly affordable way to be creative.

Koi painting
Acrylic painting of orange koi fish.

Here’s the thing: I’m no Bob Ross. I only know about two people who are. Painting on canvas seemed like such a big deal. It’s canvas, after all! What if I messed up? What if I had no talent? After a pep talk from a good friend who’d already taken the plunge into canvas, I shakily spread my base color on the stretched fabric. And guess what? It was magical! Sure, I was just painting a background color, but this was proving to be something I could be proud of, something I could display, something I could potentially excel at. Plus, it turns out you can paint over any and all mistakes you make! Many artists, and not just modern ones, use and reuse canvases after a layer of primer has evened things out.

What was I so afraid of? Just like in life, there’s always a chance of making a mistake, but there’s always the opportunity to make it right. I went from uncertain to undaunted in a matter of seconds. This canvas made me feel powerful, confident and ready to face anything. And I think we could all use a little more of that.

Trees at night painting
A sparkling starry night serves as the background for a silhouette of trees.

Having mastered my fear, I quickly found a love for my acrylic paints. The only problem was the craft store’s price point. It’s hard to be freely creative at nearly $50 per blank canvas panel and $5 per tube of color. There had to be a solution, and darn it, I was going to find it! My solution came, as many surprisingly do, at my neighborhood Wal-Mart. Their craft section had just what I needed: $0.50 tubes of paint and economy packs of canvas for a third of one canvas at the craft store, not to mention the selection of brushes available at that “shop smart” price point. I knew I was no professional and that my work wasn’t going to be displayed anywhere other than my own home and maybe those of my friends, so getting a bargain to explore my new passion was just what I needed.

This turned into one of the most amazing projects I’ve undertaken – one painting a month for 12 months. These hang in my home, and every time I look at them, I can see my progression and my confidence bloom as the months progress. Thank goodness for the affordable outlet as I was doing this while caring for a new baby as well! Plus, whenever I want to share my work with friends and family, I know I can get a really high quality and affordable print through Overnight Prints, which keeps me both on budget and proud of my work.

12 months of canvas paintings
The project led to one painting a month for 12 months.

So what’s the takeaway? Am I going to be a professional painter one day? Highly unlikely. Have I learned not to underestimate myself and to find resources that suit my needs? Definitely. Plus, adding a little confidence to one’s palette now and then has never been a bad thing.

Jessica Valentine is the spouse of Degory Valentine, customer experience manager,

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