Saturday, January 11, 2014

Purple Passion

So let’s talk some more about confidence.

What is it and how do you get it. We’ve all heard “You can do anything you set your mind to.”

Those are some of the most destructive words ever uttered and they keep getting repeated by well-meaning parents and educators and they do more damage than a WMD. They are a WMD.

If you are a ninety-five pound woman you will never play middle linebacker for the Chicago Bears, if you are a two hundred and eighty-five pound man you will never be the Prima Ballerina of the Bolshoi ballet corp. Get over it.

It’s that pesky “anything” that makes all the trouble. You cannot do anything, but you can do most things and that is where the first step in gaining confidence comes in.

You have to be reasonable. You will not draw like Leonardo nor will you paint like Rembrandt nor sculpt like Rodin in the first six weeks after you take up the pencil, brush or chisel.

We are a society which wants a quick fix, if it takes time and effort it is just not happening. And no there is n app for that. To build confidence you have to work at it.

You have to start small and build on baby-steps until your skill catches up with your ambition. Sometimes that means re-learning a skill that you let grow dormant. That was my problem certainly, I was once able to draw fairly well, but a long lay-off and arthritis took their toll and now I can barely manage. But I work at it all of the time and hope one day to be able to make things appear on paper as well as they do in my head.

You have to match your skills against others. Now I know you are groaning but you cannot work alone and expect to stay sharp. If you are not exhibiting your work or entering shows you are letting your talents get rusty. Ever try to run a mile? Sure you could when you were twenty but now? That’s what comes of inactivity.

Once you have honed those skills to a razor’s edge what then?

If you stop you’ll be going backward. Confidence is a funny beast it only grows when it is used constantly.

But I have my skill honed to a fine point and I use them every day and they are just fine and my confidence is like that of a super hero and there is nothing and no one who can stand in my way.

That’s fine, but the minute you think there is no horizon left you are on your way down. If you have polished your skills to the nth degree and you are the most consistently selected artist in all of the shows which you enter and you have the ability to take on any assignment then it is time for you to attack a new discipline.

Go away! And do not come back until you are through nagging about new skills.

I could do that but then I’d be letting you down on our road to confidence.

Acquiring new skills is essential to maintaining and preserving your confidence. Just think of all of the people you know who do so many things well and ask yourself why is it that they seem to accomplish so much while I just barely have the energy t turn on the tube?

They do it because they burn with desire and curiosity and they cannot stop, not even for a second.

Years ago my favorite writing coach Lawrence Block said, “If you want to write for money go be a plumber or a CPA or a butcher cause you will never earn enough as a writer to buy a book of stamps. Sure there are guys who make millions but you are more likely to be bitten by a shark. Write because you cannot do anything else.”

That is in my opinion true and probably always has been. If you cannot do anything else, if it is like being addicted to drugs and you have to have your next fix or die then that is what you should be doing.

Making art requires complete dedication and focus; it needs continual attention to development and exercise of skills. If you aren’t working on building what you can do you are falling behind.

Pick something and do it daily. There are so many things here on the South Coast which can become a passion project.

Now what you ask is a passion project and what does it have to do with developing your confidence?

A passion project is something you can paint, draw, sculpt many, many times without growing bored or losing your desire to make it unique or wonderful? Is it so bad that while you are doing it you hone your skills and develop your talents?

Each time you create something new and wonderful you build your confidence so that anything which you do becomes something in which you have complete confidence. Once you have that mind set almost anything you see can become art and it will be your unique vision which will shout to the world your continuing and growing confidence.

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