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  • Writer's picturePatrice Schelkun

Self-Doubt and the Creative Life

Learn to Defeat Your Worst Enemy

If you’re a person who appreciates art but who’s never given it a shot yourself, you might be missing out on one of the greatest joys life has to offer: the creative life.

“A creative life is an amplified life. It's a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life,” says Elizabeth Gilbert, popular TED Talk speaker and author of Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.

But whether you’re a newbie just venturing into creativity or you’ve been doing it a long time, you’re going to have to spar with creativity’s arch-enemy, self-doubt. People say the only true limitations to creativity are self-imposed.

More times than I can even count I’ve heard the same words when someone looks at my artwork: “Wow, I can’t even draw a stick figure.” There it is—the old defeatist attitude. Did you ever stop to think that maybe this and so much more is possible, if only there were someone to show you how and give you a little encouragement?

You might be surprised to know that even seasoned artists battle self-doubt. Trying out a new technique or venturing into a subject matter previously unexplored can leave an artist feeling like an inept student once again. But exploring something new is invigorating to the creative mind. That’s why so many of us freely admit that no matter how much experience we have in the art-making world, we will always and forever be students.

Venturing into the creative life means leaving the safety of well-worn routines and habits, which can often squash creative juices. It’s about chasing those things that inspire and thrill you and exploring things you’ve never done before, even if they seem a bit scary. If you can get past the fear—and often it’s a fear of failure—creativity will flourish.

I recently had an opportunity to explore a new avenue of creativity with my friends in the Naples Art District. Nora Beyrant, the owner of ArtLab on J & C Boulevard, had an idea to paint a large outdoor mural on the front and side of the large building her studio occupies. Her thought was to design a public art project that would draw attention not only to her studio but to this burgeoning commercial district that has become home to over 100 artist studios. Though I’ve had experience doing mural work, I had never taken on a project of this scale and visibility. It was a little scary thinking about the “hows,” but at the same time presented a challenge that stoked my creative juices.

Together with Nora and four or five other Naples Art District artists, we fleshed out a design as well as a plan to execute the project. If you’ve had occasion to visit the Naples Art District during their monthly open studio tours or other special events, you may have seen this work in progress. It’s now nearing completion. The hope is that this will be the first of many such mural projects within the district that will help identify the area as an arts destination in our community.

If you’re ready to set aside fear and stoke your own creative energy, consider enrolling in one of the many art class opportunities planned during the Naples Art District’s Creativity Camp for Adults, running April 29 - May 7. Enjoy a two-day, three-day, or week-long workshop in painting, photography, jewelry-making, glass or fiber arts, or ceramics being offered by teaching artists in their studios. You can also attend evening art demonstrations and presentations with master artists. Find inspiration for your own creativity by exploring the many artist studios in the district during Art Alive! held on the first Wednesday and Thursday, and third Saturday, of each month from November to May 4.

Patrice Schelkun is a contemporary realist painter working in oil and on glass. She and her husband split their time between Naples and Lake George, NY. View her work at or @schelkun_studio_arts on Instagram and Facebook.


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