© 2019 by Irina Pandeva

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Every time I start a new painting…

Another blank canvas is staring at me. This one is big, too big for my ability to take risks, too empty for me to make the first move. I’m looking at the blank space, waiting for it to give me some directions, to inspire me to something that will turn out to be my next big thing, my chance to break through and become what I’ve always wanted.

I usually paint on small canvases, and I know that way I protect myself. In my head — the smaller the canvas, the lesser the chance of failure, as if creating something bad on a smaller surface makes it less bad.

Sometimes I feel like Pinocchio, where my nose grows longer the more I doubt myself (and keeps me further away from my canvas), and where every new canvas plays the role of Geppetto giving me the benefit of the doubt and waiting for me with hope and patience for that one day I also have the chance to become a real…. well …artist.

But my new canvas doesn’t need me to become a real artist, it is perfectly happy with what I am right now, my new canvas doesn’t care if I have a great idea, it simply wants me to create and enjoy the process. My new canvas would love it if I become better and will support me all the way if I just continue this messy relationship and respect both its and my desire, the desire to be fulfilled (and also possibly not spill paint everywhere else but on the canvas).

Heres what happens — my brain has the idea that I should paint something. My brain observes, thinks, combines and creates these amazing images, revolutionary color and shape combinations, crazy, daring and fantastic stuff, and my brain expects me to recreate all of this on a canvas. My brain is unforgiving when it comes to execution; my brain thinks I have to be able to reproduce that internal picture and make it available to the external world. So every time I face my incapability to actualize my brain work I am frustrated and extremely disappointed, and sometimes I just don’t dare to even start.


I realize that somewhere and somehow I’ve lost an essential part of my creating process, the ability to do something just for the sake of it.

Is it that some well-cultivated shame from childhood has gone crazy and turned into full-blown fear? Is that fear of failure, coming from the constant feeling of uncertainty and mistrust towards my own talent? When did that happen? Was it in school where I was thought that to be wrong and not understand something is punished by low grades? Why the hell did I decide to believe in that madness? Most importantly why now, when I am an adult, still consciously chose to live by the same convictions? Do I really need to become a master at something, so that I am permitted to have the nerve to show my face?

It’s like my own private universe has turned into The Truman Show. How egocentric of me is to think, that someone else outside of me exists only to spot my mistakes? I realize that the only observer, in this case, is Truman himself. I realize that I have to try and be ready to fail. I realize that I have been foolishly afraid of the one person I know the most intimately and for my entire life — me.


“Oh, stupid Pinocchio — you know that you can always make bad art and nobody is forcing you to share it, right?”

“I know…. shall we begin then?”

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