By Nate Crawford

I did something that I have never done before this last Saturday, June 22, 2019. I entered my art in an art show in the downtown area of my hometown. The event was put on by Heartland Artists’ Gallery (http://heartlandartgallery.com). It’s a good and strong gallery in our town of Plymouth, IN. They have lots of good artwork displayed there and do a great job of organizing various events. 

I have been doing acrylic paintings for the last two years, or so. As you can see in the paintings that I put up here, I also use a Sharpie marker to help give some definition. It’s a good medium that works for me, although I also do other, more abstract paintings at times.

So, my wife encouraged me to do the event and enter my art. I think that part of her wanted some of these paintings out of the house and another part of her thought it would be good to put myself out there and try something new. 

Trying something new is not always easy for me. I like to know that I am going to be the best or one of the best when I enter into anything. I study up, research, do the best work possible, and usually succeed. If you are into the Enneagram, I am a 3w4 and I think this sums up nicely where I fall. 

So, I tried something new. I also knew that I was not the best artist at the event, not by a long shot. I was always given poor grades at art because certain forms are just not what I do well. Also, in 8thgrade, I graded on the art I produced while I had a broken thumb, which was an interested experiment. But, I am not the best. I have my mediums and way of doing things and I do those fairly well, but, traditionally, I am not a great artist. There were a lot of other artists that did much better and more interesting work than I did. It was both incredible to have a table next to them and really hard as I could tell I was not quite on par with some of the people. However, I must say that the artists were incredibly welcoming and everyone had positive feedback to say about my stuff. And that was fantastic.

By Nate Crawford

The real reason for the post, though, is that this was an anxiety inducing event. I never had an anxiety attack, which was good. Usually, when I get in the moment, I can be there and be present and just enjoy the event. However, leading up to the event, I was definitely under some anxiety and kept going over more and more negative thoughts in my head about all the things that could go wrong. I also had anxiety that I just was not good enough….and that did lead to an anxiety attack one day. The event was fine and well-done and I really enjoyed it, but it was something that made my anxiety flare up for more than a few days. 

The event showed me, though, that I can and should try new things and put myself through new experiences. Everything about the art show was positive and it was a safe place to display one’s work. It showed me that these kinds of things can really work to help me, to help me put myself out there and deal with my fears and things that make me stop, to help me talk to people and allow myself to be judged by them, to help me make new acquaintances and friends. These are all very difficult for me, but there was great stuff going here. 

I plan to do more art shows. I plan to exhibit. I am still scared to death that someone will hate my stuff and not call it “art” or will be incredibly critical of it. I am afraid of being judged negatively. But, this event has shown me that I can work inside of those fears and, while acknowledging my fears, I can still put myself out there in the community and in the world and open myself to criticism…..AND I WILL BE OK. This is a major step for me and I wanted to share it with everyone else.