The comments you left on my last post about confidence made me realize this is a subject begging for more.
Let’s take each of the five points I made, last week, and expand in as many directions as we can in a 5-part series. (Well, if you count last week that would be 6 parts ;-) but who’s counting?)
And, I’m going to need your help for this. I’ll be able to nail down a few ideas, but it’s you, out there in the studio day after day, who can tell me what I can’t even imagine.
Here’s what I’m looking for, from you…
I’ll tell you the 3 things that come to me about how to increase your confidence in the studio. Then, in the “comments” you tell me what I’ve missed!
As I said last week, no matter where you are on the career path, keeping your technical skills finely tuned is essential.
For some artists, execution comes easily. For others, it’s more laborious. In either case, mastery of your materials will leave an energetic residue that sends out a clear signal to the viewer.
I’ll give you two examples.
A Tale Of Two Artists: Confidence as Compliment, Confidence as Competence
Artist No.1: Her work is hanging in a local venue, a charming neighborhood bar run by a woman who is cherished by everyone in the community, in no small part because she supports local bands and local visual artists.
Artist No.1 has two things going for her: an engaging imagination, and enough drawing skill to tell a story through what I call fantasy realism.
Looking at her work framed in expensive, gaudy, gilded gold, you can tell that she is encouraged by her friends and family, and probably acquaintances who do not have her basic drawing skills—that her work is wonderful.
And so she has settled (and shows her work for sale) at a basic technical level that a fairly gifted, high school senior might be able to pull off.
And I’m guessing that no one is going to tell her the truth: if she wants this to be a viable, sustainable career (and, who knows, she may not), those pieces need to come down and she needs to go take workshops, classes, find a mentor.
Artist No.2 has the flip side to this story. She has been studying and mentoring with old master realist teachers for years. And years. Her skill level is so high that her pieces feel as if they are actually breathing, just took a step, just turned their head – only you missed it.
Suddenly Artist No.2 has an urge to create a couple of encaustic, abstract pieces – a series of straight, black lines intersecting at various points on the canvass. Simple. Plain. No color. Never did it before.
However, because her skill level at mark making is so advanced, these simplistic dashes of black lines are wildly exciting. The first piece evokes energy simultaneously contained, yet unleashed; movement transcending dimensions of reality. The second feels like a transmission from another world, a bird’s eye view of familiar, yet unknown, terrain.
Your level of core skills will always be reflected in your final piece – no matter how complex or how simple. You cannot hide behind, or be content with, a great imagination, compliments from those who love or admire you, or your own lack of… what? confidence? motivation?… to put in the hard hours.
3 Ways to Heat Up Your Studio Confidence
If you suspect you are shaky at any level, or bit-by-bit sinking into a routine that feels jaded or stale, here are 3 ways I recommend to send bolts of life energy coursing through your work.
1. Find A Mentor, Take a Workshop, Organize a Group Of Artists
There is always someone further along the path than we are, and someone who hasn’t caught up to where we are.
I don’t care how good you are, there is someone out there who can offer you even more. Maybe even two someones.
Find that person, or persons. Bow to their experience. Allow yourself to be taught no matter how good you think you are, or how bad you think you are, because neither is absolutely true.
2. Find Your Fear Point
“Fear” might be a little extreme for some of you, but only if you forget that fear is a continuum that moves all the way from mild caution up to stark terror.
When you get in the studio, where do you not allow yourself to go? Truthfully?
It’s so human-like to bliss out in our zone of excellence, or float there, or even sing along with.
Imagine swimming out into deeper waters – where your sharks live. Start there, with the imagining. Keep a notebook as you do this and write it all down, otherwise your brain will just love the chance to be a trickster and keep you where the fire is cozy and warm.
And remind yourself that at any point you can swim back to shore and dry out again by the fire.
Do this and I guarantee your zone of excellence will never feel the same again.
3. Be Alice In Wonderland
Work big? Go tiny, itsy bitsy.
Work small? Go so BIG it freaks you out.
And, no, I’m not taking the “my studio isn’t big enough” excuse.
Find an artist whose studio is big enough and ask if you can rent, join, play with. Rent a place for one month or one week or one day! And if you are setting yourself up for a “no,” I’m betting that’s your fear point. Your shark.
Work in oils? Try acrcylics
Happy with encaustic? Go for collage.
Into clay? Get out the canvas and brushes.
We jump the fear gun by imagining that whatever we do we have to do forever. Seriously, we take ourselves too seriously.
Who, I ask you, is an artist who can’t break free of his or her own traditions and play again?
If nothing else, set yourself a new challenge,.
Work out of your comfort zone – hard for 3 weeks -and see what changes in your skill level.
As I said before, there is no destination here, only continual arriving…
There has to be more ways than this for shaking up, and shaking down, your skill level in the studio.
What has worked for you? What have you have discovered out on the edge of the Confidence Universe?
In case you’re wondering, the “Home Study Edition” of the smARTist Telesummit 2012 gives you the competence you need around your collectors and buyers to stand strong in your confidence.
Here’s what one of your fellow artists told me,
Thank you from my soul for having this summit, for dreaming it, creating it and making it happen. It is wonderful. I came in thinking I don’t do licensing! I paint.
Imagine the surprise I felt when Maria Brophy started talking: my energy soared, my enthusiasm not just for her talk but all the possibilities she was calling out in my imagination was sky rocketing. I was glued to the head set. ~Anneke Newman (from Australia)
And this is what Anneke was talking about -> “Your Collector Lifeline: How to Use Confidence, Connection, and Communication so They Buy Your Art.”
Written by Ariane Goodwin, Ed.D.
Posted under 2012 smARTist Home Study Edition, Confidence, Inspiration
Tags: art, smARTist, art career, visual artist, artist, visual art, visual artists, fine art, sculpture, being an artist, painting, art studio, studio, play, confidence, imagination, Alice in Wonderland, collectors, smARTist Telesummit 2012, acrcylics, encaustic, oils, collage, clay, canvas, brushes fear, mentor, workshop, skill, competence, old master realism, drawing skill, communication, connection
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