Performance anxiety

Tinfoil Hat, 6X8, oil on canvasboard, Carol L. Douglas
In three months, God willing, I will finish a career of 21 years as the parent of a schoolchild. Hearing a child wail, “I’m going to fail my test” is a sadly regular occurrence. Mercifully, hearing him or her wail, “I failed my test” is usually pretty rare.
We all tend to anticipate disaster, of course. “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof,” the Bible tells us. It’s good advice. Whether it’s the results of a biopsy, an exam, a financial challenge, or in a personal relationship, worry is superfluous. When things go really wrong, worry never makes it better.
I had a painting teacher who once announced to us, “You’re all terrified!” I was intrepid enough to come to New York for her classes, I told her, and I wasn’t afraid of no stinking brush. But the truth is, I am sometimes beset by nerves when starting a new painting. We all are. It’s a dive into the unknown.
A drink in the afternoon, 6X8, oil on canvasboard, Carol L. Douglas
What helps? Painting every day at the same time is the best answer. It tells the brain, “we are working now; knock off your nonsense,” and the brain behaves. Regular work habits allow you to get right into the creative mode and minimize distractions.
Of course, it’s early March and I can’t do that. It’s time to do taxes. That requires all my concentration (and can shatter my nerves). But this too shall pass, and the snowpack is melting. Spring really is right around the corner.
Plastic wrap #2, 6X8, oil on canvasboard, Carol L. Douglas. Also known as Portrait of the Artist as a Bookkeeper.
Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park in 2015 or Rochester at any time. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops! Download a brochure here.
Carol Douglas

About Carol Douglas

Carol L. Douglas is a painter who lives, works and teaches in Rockport, ME. Her annual workshop will again be held on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park, from August 6-11, 2017. Visit for more information.