Popular Section: Confidence

How Many Hats?

how many hatsThe word “artist” is disarmingly deceptive as a singular noun. It gives the appearance of one thing, like “chair.” Or elephant. Or electrician.

And because we humans are hard wired to use language as our core form of communication, words have a pervasive psychological power on us consciously, subconsciously, and unconsciously.

Without being aware, we sleepwalk into language traps all the time.

Since the word “artist” is singular, we feel as if the artist must also be singular. A painter. A sculptor. A jeweler. Singular, in the same way an electrician sticks to working with electricity.

This sense that, as an artist, you are one thing morphs into another sense, that you should, by all rights, only be doing one thing (like an electrician).

Then, when the reality of “doing,” as an artist, flies in the face of this singular feeling (all I should be doing is making art), a sort of righteous indignation – or resentment – creeps in.

And so begins….

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What Gets In The Way?

There were 36 hours this week when my normally plucky self completely derailed. You know, the equivalent of a dozen bad hair days slamming into you all at once.

Thank goodness, when that happens, I have a coach. A smart and compassionate one who doesn’t let me get away with much.

Her first question, when I confessed I’d woken up feeling like a failure, was: When did that start?

Well, of course, the part of me that preferred wallowing to working drew a blank.

I woke up that way, so hey, did it start in my sleep? (heading down dark paths of the psyche brings out my cheeky side)

What followed was a volley of questions (hers) and non-answers (mine). My coach is remarkably patient, or tenacious, depending on how “oh,-I’m-not-feeling-resistant” resistant I’m being.

I still don’t remember the exact moment I gave myself permission to…

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What Do I Really, Really, Really Want?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent a chunk of my lifetime asking, “What do you want?”

I ask my daughters this. I ask my clients. I ask my neighbor.

Tonight, in the kitchen, returning from a date in Northampton (a ton of fun!), I leaned on the counter, hung my head and heard myself ask out loud, What… do… I… want?

I had been pouring myself a glass of water when a weight seemed to drop onto me, out of nowhere, and then…

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Part 1: Art As Spiritual Sanctuary

For a long time now I’ve been intrigued by the many correlations between the visual fine arts and spirituality.

In times past, art was an extension of that uniquely human branch of spirituality: religion. It married the power of vision to the power of institutionalized religion, especially that of the four world super religions: Buddhism, Christianity, Moslem, and Judaism.

A variety of art forms were also core to the traditions and rituals of native cultures – masks, totems, body paint, body adornments, dance, theater, costumes – where spirit was an ever-present reality threaded throughout daily life and initiating or supporting major life transitions, such as birth, death, marriage, life-as-service, and so much more that I can’t even conceive.

When humans shifted the locus of their attention from the tribe, clan, and family–where individuality was invisible under the cloak of the group–to the beginnings of self-awareness.

At this point, the crest of human development used art to pour forth even more testimony to all aspects of the human-as-spirit condition, as envisioned in the private spaces of a single mind and heart, one being at a time.

And with this rise of individuals as aware of self came…

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Confidence Part 5: How Naked is Your Public Confidence?

How much is genuine confidence, as opposed to overblown bravado, tied into your ability to be real, to be authentic with the people who want to know more about you and your art?

We humans have amazing internal radar that picks up bs automatically. It’s a survival instinct, where knowing what’s real and what’s not has always been crucial.

We also have some equally amazing internal barricades that can rewrite our first, instinctual responses and kick us upstairs into the more civilized Brain Override Lounge.

Sometimes this is a good idea, when our instinctual response is actually triggered by an old pattern that no longer makes any sense. Other times it’s a form of personal delusion, when facing something authentically is going to ask more of us than we feel up to.

Either way, the people around us will…

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A Little-Known Secret to Increasing Confidence (Part 4 of 5) in Your Art: Story

I know the default myth is that artists and the written word are mortal enemies.

Of course I’ve taken every opportunity to shake artists free of this ignorant, if persistent, idea, beginning with my book Writing The Artist Statement: Revealing the True Spirit of Your Work.

Since we humans owe our ever-evolving humanity and consciousness to our ability to communicate, and since words are the core vehicle to this communication, perpetuating any level of poverty with the written word is to tie you up with a lie.

AND, I don’t dismiss the resistance a lot of artists feel toward writing. It’s very real. I just don’t buy that…

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Confidence In Your Artistic Fingerprint (Part 3 of 5)

Some people also refer to this as your artist’s voice, much like every singer has a distinct tone that cannot be duplicated, or a signature style that’s immediately recognizable (think Georgia O’Keefe or Frida Kahlo).

It is what sets you apart from the pack of ordinary work, where a dozen pair portraits from a dozen different artists could be lined up next to each other and all look as if they came from the same artist.

When your work is speaking from the level of your soul, no one can ever successfully copy you. Your artistic fingerprint is just that: yours. By definition it cannot be anyone else’s.

Only a lot of artists feel confused by the difference between loving what they have just made, and knowing the work carries a distinct sense of who they are as an artist.

An artistic fingerprint can be simple or complex, but it is never about self-duplication.

It’s something you do…

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Confidence (Part 1 of 5) – 3 Ways to Heat Up Your “Studio Confidence”

The comments you left on my last post about confidence made me realize this is a subject begging for more.

So let’s shake it out.

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

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5 Cool Ways to Wear Confidence in Public

For an artist to be able to climb what often feels like a very steep career mountain, confidence is your essential ingredient.

And by that I mean bone-real confidence; not the pumped-up kind, where we’re skating over a surface of insecurity and fear, and so we’re pumping ourselves up to keep from falling over a cliff.

I’m talking about the kind of confidence that’s based on what decades of academic research have shown: that it is not compliments—it is not people telling you how good your art is—it is your level of competence that is the bedrock  of your confidence.

Here are 5 cool ways to increase your art-career competence, which will automatically increase your confidence. (And if I’ve left any out, go right ahead and add it in the comments!)

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