My yappy inner critic

Art journal page
Art Journal page for Book of Days with Effy Wild

I spent all this past weekend painting. I usually do some art every day although it may only be a sketch. I’ve only been painting for two years, and yet, it has become a necessary part of my life. Most of the time, I can see that I’m improving, and even when I am not as happy with a piece as I might be, it is okay because I feel like I’ve learned something about composition or combining materials or any number of other things I can practice improving when I tackle the next piece.

Several of my favorite teachers encourage introspection while art journaling or before painting a canvas so that one meets oneself on the page or canvas. On several occasions, the prompt or exercise has involved listening to one’s inner voices and facing or combating the inner critic. My teachers may describe the inner critic as the voice that often tells the artist she isn’t good enough or that she doesn’t compare with other artists. They speak of the voice that says, “Who do you think you are to think you can be an artist?”

Fold out of Book of Days Journal page

Maybe it is because I am 66 years old or maybe it is because I don’t really expect to be able to sell my paintings commercially, an least not in large enough quantities that I need to worry about other artists, that I don’t hear the voice of this specific inner critic. Instead, the voice I hear says, “Why are you spending all day painting when you need to be cleaning the house? Why are you spending money on another online art class when you haven’t done all the lessons from the ones in which you have already enrolled? Why are you buying more Golden paint when you could be using craft paint? Why aren’t you reading? Why aren’t you working on your genealogy projects or (fill in the blank)? You’re getting obsessed!!”

Close up of Book of Days Journal page

The inner critic is also called the superego. I was once in a spiritual group that did work on silencing the superego and was told that you could never really get to your True Nature as long as you listened to your superego; that is because the superego does not want your success but only wants to keep you down. Originally, some time in childhood, it may have begun as a voice that wanted to keep you safe, but it quickly turned into a voice to keep you subdued. You cannot escape the ego if the superego is constantly yapping in your ear.

Painting puts me in a place where there is no yapping. What I don’t know is a challenge, and since my classes are all online, I can learn what I want. In fact, I can go back and repeat lessons that I really liked after my skill set has grown. Next year, I may do just that. I have signed up for more classes than I easily complete this year, but fortunately, I can download them or I have lifetime access to them. I plan to go back to some that I skipped and even to redo others. Next year, I will not need to enroll in so many online classes.

Close up of Book of Days Journal page

I can live with that. I have finally come to a place where I feel like my own style is emerging. I am using Effy Wild‘s note taking strategies with the videos in my classes and doing my own paintings by synthesizing techniques I have learned whereas a year ago, I copied a great deal more.  This way, I can skip lessons that don’t really appeal and still learn the techniques.

I’ve stopped referring to myself as a student artist and started calling myself an artist. I have even made some notecards with prints of some of my work and sold a few in my massage office.

So, I am going to keep painting every day, in spite of my yapping inner critic telling me to dust the furniture. It gives me pleasure. Furthermore, I live 43 miles from Huntersville and Donna Downey Studios. I live about 80 miles from Asheville and Alena Hennessey‘s studio. As soon as that car is paid off, my bucket list has a live class in Huntersville or in Asheville on the agenda. The dusting can wait.

8 thoughts on “My yappy inner critic

  1. wildchildsdressingupbox September 13, 2017 / 9:46 pm

    I get the place of no yapping when I bead. All other times it’s on full throttle – thank you for this, its sparked a new take on things! I obv need to do far more beading!


  2. Judith Liebaert September 13, 2017 / 1:33 pm

    Thanks for sharing this. Your art is wonderful.
    I hear all of those same things, but in an odd twist, I also hear, “Why aren’t you in the studio?” when I’m doing other things, because my husband gifted me with a small building in the back yard just for me and all of my “arting” stuff. My critic says, “You’re letting that building go to waste!” LOL. I also hear, “What are you going to do with all of this art? You can’t sell it, you can’t even give it away.” Which is not necessarily true – I have done both. I’m going to start telling that voice to be quiet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Suzanne H. Eller September 14, 2017 / 1:04 am

      I hear you. In the group I spoke of in the blog, we practiced telling the superego to shut up. It is hard not to listen though. Thanks for commenting.


    • Suzanne H. Eller September 13, 2017 / 11:30 am

      I love this technique. What I love is that Effy has taught us so many variations. Occasionally I try one that doesn’t work out, but even though I was stubborn about doing the technique grimoire when I started, I do it now. It is saving me some real bummers.


  3. thoughtfuldesignblog September 13, 2017 / 10:43 am

    Your posts are just gorgeous, there is so much nourishment in there, I loved your description of super ego, sending positive thoughts and your way hoping you get to do your live classes soon ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. greycatcreations September 13, 2017 / 3:59 am

    Oh Suzanne I just love this post. Everything you said about the superego and how it boils down to just doing it anyway. You go girl! And omg to take a live class with either one of those ladies would be a dream come true. I’m so happy for you that you are finding your own style. Your art is so very beautiful. xoxo


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