I’m too afraid to show my painting!


Do you ever feel like this? I do. Even after 20 years of painting.

I just did a painting and was really disappointed with it.

I didn’t want to show it.

People will see that I’m not such an amazing artist.

And I want people to see, or believe, that I am an amazing artist.

Not mediocre, but amazing.

And in everything I do.

This is why in the past, traditional artists would retreat to their studios for about 3 years.

There in private they would make some amazing creations and throw away all those horrible failures.

Then they would come out and do a grand exhibition in which they would hopefully sell all their work.

And lots of galleries say to only show your best work.

You’ve got to think about your brand.

But if you are reading this then you probably don’t really have a brand. Not yet.

So should we hide that painting?

No, we should show it.

There are so many reasons to show your work and right from the start

So here we go.

People will see your progress. That’s very interesting. I love to see the early work of an artist compared to his later works. And I expect his early works to be somewhat bad.

And trust me, if you are painting every day your work will improve in amazing ways.

Next, you never know what other people like. Some people may well buy your early stuff but not your later stuff.

They might even buy a simple sketch you did. But if you throw away that sketch because it’s not a “finished” piece of work then you lost out. Also, they see your depth and variety.

Which is another mistake galleries give to artists which is to be consistent and focus on one thing.

Now I’m not saying don’t do a series or don’t have a particular subject you love but it is so important to experiment around that subject and sometimes to make big divergences. Don’t worry! You can always come back.

Having a style can be like putting handcuffs on your creative genius – and I am someone who has spent years on just painting landscapes and always with the same medium: watercolor.

By not focusing on just one narrow thing you have the chance to experiment with different subject matter, materials etc. This is great because it will expose you to lots of different people that like different subjects and different materials.

Next you should show your work, no matter what, because people will know that you really are an artist because you keep turning up and showing your art. In other words, your consistency gives you credibility.

Next you begin to find people who like your work. Well, I must admit I’m still working on that one. I’ve sold perhaps 50 paintings but that isn’t actually a lot.

Of course, there is a negative side.

Some people will judge you and make harsh criticism.

And you will also experience a lot of indifference.

But these are things that you have to get use to if you want to sell your art.

That said, though, art is so subjective.

I am constantly amazed by the rubbish art that people buy.

I recently watched a video where an artist made a piece of rubbish art on purpose – trust me – it was purposely made to be rubbish.

Then she put it on ebay for a really high price and somebody wanted to buy it.

And when you do start showing your work you are also going to stumble and sometimes look like an ass.

The real question is are you going to hide away or get up, paint and get your work out there.

And I know that when I show my work there is a chance somebody will criticize it.

And perhaps even worse is that nobody will say anything. As I heard somebody say recently, the opposite of love is not always hate, but indifference.

But the thing is, even if you become a brilliant artist, you are still going to experience the same thing.

And then there was that world class musician who played in the subway and people walked past him without a care. I think one person stopped out of hundreds.

Whatever you do, you will stumble. The real question is are you going to hide away or get up, paint and get your work out there.

And to make matters worse (or better depending on how you look at it), it is those painting where you don’t care, or even try to break the rules or do something experimental that end up being the best or the ones people like and buy.

So this is the rule.

Paint all the time, with a care free experimental drive and show your work.

Anyway this was a ramble about being afraid to show your artwork. I hope it has encouraged you to show your own artwork.

And to put myself on the line, I am showing one of my rubbishy paintings. Well, I must admit I kind of like it. But it is a bit of a scrappy painting.

It’s a painting of my local river which I love to walk along in the morning. It’s one of the highlights of my day.

Gareth Naylor

I am an Englishman living and painting in Japan. I have now been here for over 17 years and have been painting for all that time. I love to travel around the Japanese countryside and find beautiful places to paint.

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