Sunshine, nature’s confidence booster, sends these flowers skyward. (Rudbeckia, 14×18, acrylic).
As artists we work hard on skill building, productivity and motivating ourselves. We battle against the busy-ness of life to carve out time when we can focus and concentrate. There is another type of distraction besides ‘life’ that can debilitate our creativity as well. In the book by Mike Byster, titled The Power of Forgetting, he writes about confidence being crucial to concentration. When we are in a state of self-doubt, we are unable to to be effective in our work. It requires confidence to focus, to make less mistakes, to learn and to be in the flow. Flow and doubt are a very incompatible couple.
Being aware of that uncomfortable feeling in the pit of our stomach, our heart or our mind is a good thing. With awareness we can take a stance against doubt, shame, victimhood and defeatism. These feelings, born of negative thinking, are so destructive. It is important to create without getting in our own way. For me, it is like a battleground. I have to tell those thoughts to back off, out loud, and rudely.
By serendipity, in the midst of writing this, I read Noah Lukeman’s introduction to his book, The First Five Pages. In speaking to writers (my mind swaps this for painters), Noah states: “….to reach the highest levels of the craft, above all you’ll need confidence. Unshakable confidence to leap forcefully into the realm of creation…confidence is just the first step. The craft of [painting] must then be learned. The art of [painting] cannot be taught, but the craft of [painting] can. Vision itself is useless without the technical means to record it.”
Richard Schmid, author of the regaled Alla Prima, Everything I Know About Painting, wrote: “Self-doubt is utterly crippling to painters. Nothing will mess up our efforts more effectively than believing that we lack ‘what it takes’…Therefore, always give yourself the benefit of the doubt. Have confidence in the abilities you already do have.”
With skill, vision and self-worth, the twin of confidence, we can climb the heights. From that high place we can soar with the wonders of creativity, while filled with child-like abandon and a complete sense of purpose.
PS Unlike in North America, some cultures have no concept of self-hatred…