Eight months ago I was elevated to the Order of the Laurel (if you are not involved in or interested in the SCA, this post might be very dull and possibly a little confusing). This is the highest form of recognition one can get for artistic work within the SCA. In my case, I was "laureled" for my textile work, weaving, spinning, needle arts, pretty much anything to do with thread. There are a lot of things I can do very well, but having received my laurel does not mean I can do ALL things very well.
And thus my current point. I am good at weaving and spinning and embroidery. I know about these things, can do them with some level of proficiency (though I am always trying to get better at it), and can talk about them in an intelligent sort of way. However, I do not excel at many other things and there are lots of things I don't know the first thing about (metalsmithing for example). I do like to try these things out, I like to learn and expand my knowledge. Trying new things is fun.
Trying new things when people think you are an "expert" at "stuff" is intimidating and sharing the results of those early attempts is, frankly, terrifying.
Just like anyone else, I and every Laurel out there, have a learning curve. Just because I am a type A, overachieving sort of person, like any other Laurel (or Knight or Pelican for that matter) that I know does not mean I do not have to go through the same beginner struggles that everyone else has. I am just a little more reticent to share them, after all don't people think I should be doing "Laurel quality" work? Or at least Pearl/whatever your local GOA level A&S award is work? No one can start in the middle, however hard we may try.
There is always a first step and it's usually a pretty darn shaky one. There are those prodigies in any art that seem never to struggle with the basics, but even they had to start at the beginning. However hard I have always tried to run before I could even stand, I've always had to learn to stand and then walk first.
And so the idea of sharing the first steps (or ever the first 10 or 12 of them) of any new endeavor becomes that much more terrifying. I know that I expect too much of myself, I always have, but do others expect me to produce work in other arts at the same level as my Peers in those arts? Does the world think my starting point has shifted up a rung or three? Do I? Will Everyone Else think that I'm a fraud or my peerage is a joke? Will I?
No, they won't and I won't because we all have to start someplace and none of us can be a expert at All The Things.
So I will share with you my first efforts at illumination. This is most certainly NOT a thing I have been nor do I ever expect to be recognized for. It's a thing I learned to do first because there is always a need for it within in the SCA, particularly at the local level, and second because it challenges and fascinates me. I am not naturally good at drawing, I never have been. But I love art and creating things of beauty so I've picked up a brush and some paints (and god help us all a calligraphy pen) and I will learn. These are my first steps. This is not "Laurel quality" work. But I am learning and improving at my own pace, just like everyone else. And darn it I'm pretty pleased with how these have turned out.
We all of judge ourselves more harshly than others judge us, and more harshly than we deserve. We all of us have to begin at the beginning. I think it is important for those who have been recognized in one field to remind themselves of that and let others know that we too are human and we too were beginners once. If we, as peers, are doing our jobs right we will always be beginners at something.