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Live boldly, laugh and make art

Creating art takes courage. Make art even if no one likes it


Charlie wants to take a closer look.

Yesterday I painted. I didn’t write. I tried to write, but I edited the words before they got out of my head.

I wanted to encourage you to have courage and create. Make art even if no one likes it.

Create.  You don’t need anyone’s approval. 

The words stayed in my head yesterday because it felt weird to encourage you to do something I struggle with.

I want approval. I want to be perfect. For years I wanted to have a blog, but I couldn’t decide on a typeface, so I never made one. On January 12th, 2012, my husband Nick helped me start a blog on WordPress.

“It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just start,”  he said, “you can change things after you start.”

My first post, living in a perfect world has no  images, and the title wasn’t even capitalized. I didn’t share it anywhere, and I hoped no one would read it. I was nervous and felt naked after I hit publish. What if someone doesn’t like it? 

The acrylic paint I use for my paintings takes several hours to dry between layers. Yesterday, while the paint dried, I read, Daring Greatly, by Brené Brown. I am on page 172 of 287 pages.

Perfectionism is, at its core, about tying to earn approval. Most perfectionists grew up being praised for achievement and performance (grades, manners, rule following, people pleasing, appearance, sports). Somewhere along the way, they adopted this dangerous and debilitating belief system: “I am what I accomplish and how well I accomplish it.

―Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

I have the mistaken belief system that Brown talks about in her book. “I am what I accomplish and how well I accomplish it.” Yes, the mistaken system. I know I am more than my writing and my painting. But, sometimes, the little girl who lives inside of me still wants her father’s approval even though he has been dead for fifteen years. The little girl wants an A on her paper and a shiny star on top of her math page for not getting any problems wrong.

My first grade teacher held up my math test and said, “Pamela didn’t get any stars. She had something wrong on every page.”  And I still remember her standing in front of the classroom. I remember the feeling of dread and shame. I can see her arm held above her head holding up my paper if I close my eyes.

We are more than what we make. We are more than a good grade. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. Please let me give you a gold star. You get the star no matter what you did today, you will get a star even if the dog you drew looks like a cow. You get a star because God made you and he loves you very much. You get a gold star because God doesn’t make mistakes.

Take a crayon, or a tube of lipstick and draw a big circle on your mirror. Write beside the circle. I am courage. Then stand in front of the mirror and put the reflection of your face inside of the circle. Please write, I am enough.

Creating art takes courage. Courage to stand out and be seen. Courage to risk failure, and to risk success. Art is dancing, painting, singing, writing and ______. Fill in the blank.

Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.
― Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

The more I become me, the less I care what anyone thinks. The little girl in me is growing up. Slowly, but I am not going to quit. I am not going to quit writing or painting and get a job at the local grocery store. No one may like what I do or say. But I will keep trying. I will write  and edit, draw and paint.

It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.
― Andy Warhol

How can I encourage you to be brave, if I am not standing with you trying myself?

This morning I sat at my computer at 6:00 a.m. I read updates on Facebook before I started to write. The first thing I read was a quote by Andy Warhol, my friend Suzanne Mosley posted on my Facebook wall. Thank you Suzanne, we must have been having a brain melt in space.

Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.
― Andy Warhol

Let’s make art. Let’s get it done. And while people are looking at our work, reading our stories, or watching us dance, let’s make more art.

Will you make art with me? Will you be courageous?

Please tell me in the comments. I would love to chat.

A detail from the cat paintingPainting of a cat by Pamela Hodges

p.s. The link to Brené Brown’s book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, is an affiliate link. The pennies Amazon pays me helps to buy kitty letter. We have seven litter boxes and four cats. (And I clean the litter boxes.)

p.s.s. You can see the entire list of stories on Making Art for the month of October here.



About Pamela Hodges

My name is Pamela Hodges. I am a writer and an artist. I write to encourage and to bring laughter. I paint cats, draw cartoons and write books for children and grown ups.

You are an artist. Yes, you are. Really.

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Get the FREE illustrated, sort of a comic book, “You Are An Artist.” Believe in yourself and your ability to draw. xo Pamela

  • Monica Melgar

    Thank you so much for sharing this! It was so amazing to realize I’m not the only one feeling this way. The quotes were also amazing. Thank you again!

    • Hello Monica Melgar,
      Thank you for taking the time to say hello and comment. I hope this post encourages you to create, and to be Monica.
      We have six cats now.
      What kind of creating do you do?

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  • I love this! I write and do art myself but I get very upset when my sketches don’t turn out the way I want it to. I only recently decided to get my art blog up and running,four years after my writing blog. I still feel a little unsure if I should share what I feel is bad artwork of mine on my blog. But I guess I should just put it up eh, and leave the rest to the wind!

    Loved the quotes here. 🙂 Thanks for the boost! Cheers!

    • Hello Hemalatha,
      Thank you for stopping by. Yes, keep creating, and share your work. I would love to see what you do.
      We can’t control what others think, but we can control how hard we work.

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  • Robn Patrick

    I have loved the posts about art. I think those who have had trama in our childhood kind of get stuck there in a way. Well, at least I did. Some responses I have are child like and yet I never felt like I really got to be a child. Art to me is exciting and scary. I want to be good at it and I don’t want to make mistakes!!! I’m my own worst critic. I have been encouraged about how you write – and teach – about art and what to get back at it again. thank you.

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  • Valorie MacDonald

    Awww, Pamela thank you, THANK YOU for commenting! Can I share with you my honest reaction? …”wait, is that my quote? did iii write that?” And that’s maybe when I realized I like it! I like the way I write. I like what I create. And I think it’s like when you said something about hoping people like it because “it’s all I have.” And that is exactly what it is! All I have to offer is me. Today, when I saw my words, typed by you, I realized: Maybe it can be enough…just to be me… ;D

    • Valorie,
      It is always enough to be you. Always, and forever.

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  • I really loved this post, Pamela. I read it last night just before going to bed. It was exactly what I was needing to hear. Thank you!

    • You are very welcome Anastacia.
      Did you write on your mirror?

  • Valorie MacDonald

    Pamela, I just read your first blog post… it is wonderfully brave! After wanting to do so since January, I started my blog a couple weeks ago. But I don’t necessarily classifiy it as a blog. More of a sort.of.kind.of.pretending.to.be.a.blog…thing. But I did it. I didn’t have anyone to help me start it, and because of my lack of tech savvy I actually clicked Publish before I even meant to.. I thought I was starting with a Draft form!!! ARRRGH!! But my almost.12.year.old, who was sitting beside me helping me be bold, shouted “Mommy, if you hit delete…..!!!” So I let it go, let it be…in all its imperfect glory. Even though there were some 20 needed edits I could see at a glance. Even though I had envisioned publishing once I had at LEAST 10 posts ready to go. Even though I’m sure I can’t expect anyone to like it, especially if I’m not even sure I like it myself! But then the real problem, I think, as that I DO…LIKE IT! And I think there must be something inherently wrong, in admitting that….:// Ohhhhhhhh myyyyyyyyyyy………

  • It seems my ability to make art has come to a standstill. My writing has almost ceased because I can’t seem to get it together in my head. There’s a word jam up there. I love your new paintings. The winged glasses and hair up do represents new boldness. Let me try again.

    • Shelley,
      Have you gone for a walk in your neighborhood lately? Your story of the little boy down the street comes to mind when I think of your writing, or the little girl you helped at school the one day. The little girl who said, “Let by happy today.”
      You have so many stories inside of you. So many things to share. I hope you pull the plug out of the word jam.
      Please try again.

    • Valorie MacDonald

      Shelley, as I read your words, my heart did a little leap, in not.altogether.joyous recognition. I have been living a similar season for quite some time; and I have gone ahead and tried again…and again:)
      So, as I said, I read..my heart did its little leap, and I said a prayer for you. For us. For all those travelling this similarly tense road of art and self-doubt and learning to cultivate faith rather than become buried under the fear!

  • La McCoy

    Loved this

  • Laura Naughton

    This summer someone broke into my car and stole my case with all my traveling art supplies and my original work…just yesterday I finally was able to purchase some materials again. Last night was the first time in months I did my art. Yet I am not courageous…I haven’t been writing a thing. This post is just what I needed to read. Thanks Pamela

    • Laura,
      I am so glad you were able to purchase more art materials. The thief needs to be put in jail.
      Some one needs to read your story. No one else can tell your story. Did you write today?

  • Hey, I love your art, it’s awesome. It’s the first time I’ve seen your stuff. I love the red canvas. Pamela, you are absolutely fabulous.
    I needed this message today as I’m taking up the challenge of NaNoWriMo this year, writing a novel of 50000 words in the month of November. Kath is also taking part. I don’t even have a plot yet. ps. which stories did you like the most on my blog? I need ideas, please.

    • Hello Patricia,
      Thank you for encouraging me. I needed to read this today.
      The stories that touched me the most the story of your live on the boat, and how you ended up there.
      What story do you want to tell? That is the story you should write. What character do you want to create? What is the conflict? How will your character resolve her problem. And then you have a book. And she can be as tall as you want, and have any hair color you like!

      • Thanks Pamela. I was thinking along the same lines and you reinforced my thoughts. Now I know I’m on the right track. Looking forward to see where the novel will take me. My working title is ‘Sailing Boots and High Heels’

        • Valorie MacDonald

          Patricia, I would lovvve to read your novel; super excited for you!!!

          • Ahh, Valorie the waffle queen. I like what you said…all I have to offer is me… I’ll write my heart out, kill all the dragons (as Pamela said in another blog post) and in the process DARE GREATLY.

          • Valorie MacDonald

            hahaHAAA Patricia! I love you skip right over “lady” or “girl” and go straight to waffle QUEEN!)) I have a feeling my 19 yr. old AND 12 yr. old waffle princesses will LOVE that! Thanks for the support; and PS it was Pamela who said the “all I have to offer” line… I can tell I’m not alone in saying pretty much every word she writes is another priceless gem for my creative soul!

  • jesspetersonart

    awesome! I love reading all your blogs, I so relate to them. I was looking at that last picture larger, I like the lamp shade with the big red paint spot on it 😀 It’s fun to see the progress of your paintings for this show! It’s so easy to get stuck on the small things, and then be too afraid to put yourself out there…for fear of disapproval. Whether it’s a painting or a blog post. I’m glad you are doing this–breaking out of the safe bubble. Putting your thoughts and art out into the world. There are a lot of people that need to read your blog, I just know it. I’m one of them.

    • Jess,
      Thank you for your kind words. Today I was discouraged. I told my husband I felt insecure about my work. He told me to read my own writing. Silly isn’t it. How the need for approval keeps coming up as we get brave and show our work.
      The lamp shade gets the extra paint I scrape off the paintings. Eventually it will be completely covered. I keep sticking it in the photographs.

  • Great post, Pamela. Really great.

    Today I struggled with an email I wrote. I too worry about what others think. I worry that my words may be harsh. I worry and then I just stall. I found the quote, “Perfectionism is, at its core, about tying to earn approval” by Brown ouchy. Maybe because it’s still true for me.

    • Anne,
      Thank you. It is hard to be vulnerable isn’t it? Today, I hesitated for so long to write. And then I started to doubt my paintings.
      I think I need to talk more to God during the day, to remind myself that He loves me, and that is the only approval I need.

  • Pamela, thank you for this great post on the courage to create. I put off and put off my writing today until about an hour ago. Because of the same fears and hesitations you write about today. It took totally ignoring what people might think of what I create, to finally write something, anything.

    The word-count isn’t much, it wasn’t one of those “flowing” work-sessions. But it is mine. The crux of it was:

    I am a guitarist. I am capable of flowing with the instrument.

    And I seek a chair without arms.

    All Best to You and Yours,


    • John,
      Word count doesn’t matter, just write. The songs you play matter. Someone needs to hear what you have to say and play.
      Fear may always be there, courage is a choice.
      Did you write today?

      • Pamela,

        I got done everything I needed to do today.
        And yes, I did finally write — the following doggerel, viz.:

        cant fight the world no more today
        defend the dems or obama
        just want the world to go away
        i want my lovin mama

        so long ago she passed away
        cant write no more bad poetry
        just listen to the thunder die
        safe here in my slowetry

        so you guys take it for awhile
        its for the bold to riot
        just thaw the frozen status quo
        and then proceed to fry it

        (Casting a critical eye on the above, I can come to only one conclusion: I NEED A NAP.)

        Turning in early, 2moro’s another day.


        • Valorie MacDonald

          John Fisher, I love this! And I’m going to show it to my very spunky and opinionated 19 year.old daughter and I thiiink I know exactly which lines will jump out at her. It will be a neat discussion as I found out whether I’m right, or whether she’s changed and developed any slightly varied hues in her constantly progressing toward full.on adulthood!) Thank you for sharing!!!

        • Barbara Drewry

          John – I love this! And I miss my ‘lovin’ mama’ too…every day. Thank you for sharing. 🙂 Barbara 🙂 PTL

        • Thank you for sharing your momma John. I am sorry she is gone. I still have my mother, by father died 15 years ago. Do you have a tune to go with this?

          • Haven’t come up with a tune yet — maybe something Dylanesque? [shrug]

            Actually, “… lovin’ mama/so long ago she passed away” is a play on words: Mother died in 1991 and my wife died in 2006, and both of those seem a lifetime or two ago. (Cancer and Type I Diabetes are both killers.)

            I who have been more careless of life than either of them ever were, am still here trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up! It keeps me young.

  • Christa Sterken

    Keep going! I love this series and can’t wait to see the finished products

    • Thank you Christa. Me too. Right now I am covered in paint. It is hard to stay clean when the canvasses are so big.

  • I like the paintings, they’re huge! Are you going to paint Tink? You don’t have to, but she would like to be painted.

    • Please tell Tink, she will be painted. She is too cute to not have a portrait done.

  • Cathy Duffy

    Thank you for this wonderful post. You described me to a “T”! I think I’ll have to pick up a copy of “Daring Greatly” as I have a lot of growing to do in this area. Really needed to read this today. God bless!!

    • Hello Cathy,
      You are very welcome. I highly recommend this book. It really helped me figure out why I try so hard to be perfect.
      Is that Heidi in the picture with you? I miss her.
      God bless you Cathy.