Several years ago, I attended a lecture given by Janet Stevens at the Kerlan Collection, an incredible collection of children's book manuscripts and illustrations at the University of Minnesota. http://special.lib.umn.edu/clrc/. Her first slide was a photo of the book: Art and Fear, Observation on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking, by David Bayles & Ted Orland. Her talk revealed her own personal fears and dreams of making "real" art, beyond the picture book. She showed courage in revealing her vulnerability and ended up touching everyone in the room in some way that was very moving. Personally, I disagreed with her about the idea of making "real" art outside of picture books, since I consider what I do as an illustrator of picture books as extremely real, but that is another topic.
In the introduction of Art and Fear, the author's write: This book is about what it feels like to sit in your studio or classroom, at your wheel or keyboard, easel or camera, trying to do the work you need to do. It is about committing your future to your own hands, placing Free Will above predestination, choice above chance. It is about finding your own work.
"Free will", "choice" and committing to the future and finding one's own work are all part of maturing as an artist and what stirs fear in me. When I sit down to write or stand at my wall to paint, my biggest fear is that I will not find my "true" voice and let it sing strong and clear before I die. Yes, death is the final silence, and though I have been painting for more than thirty years and writing stories for nearly a decade now, it the fear of not finding my true voice, whatever that is, before I die, that eats at me most. I love the gift of another's manuscript and being able to live with it for many months and eventually reveal painted images that enhance or illuminate the words. I also consider the act of illustrating another's words as "finding my own work", even though I am constantly asked "Why don't you do your own work?"
When I do sit down to write my own stories with the intention of making the pictures for them, that is when I wonder if I am saying anything worthwhile? This causes fear to take over and silence me. Then I remember "play". Play is so essential to my life-- it causes accidents and enjoyment and banishes the fears for awhile. Play allows me to be in the moment of moving the pen or brush with courage and blind faith that something worthwhile will emerge-- even if it is just the act of playing. Time is another factor that banishes fear for me-- I need time to make mistakes, wander without pressure, and play until something catches and doesn't let me go.