"He who hesitates is lost" is a well known proverb with unclear origins. The meaning is however is clear - take too long to deliberate and you will miss an opportunity. Others will argue that a moment to reflect will save you from acting too rashly. No wonder life can get complicated!
Thankfully painting has opened so many avenues of knowledge for me. Dealing with risk is one of them. Compared to much else the risks in painting seems worth taking. So often artists get caught out by the fear of messing up a painting that the result is inevitable. The painting is lost and worse yet - the new artist's confidence has taken a beating too.
It is strange that we can be so harsh on ourselves. I have yet to meet the Art Police and nobody seems to actually care that much if I throw out a painting. It is me, my paints and a canvas. Oh yes - that voice in the mind that fuels my doubts. Did you know that we are hardwired to look for problems and fears even if these do not exist objectively? This has something to do about survival. It makes sense when we look at our early ancestors living short and brutal lives in the wild. Yet despite our advances in all areas of existence the unfounded fears persist. A massive boon for newspapers and medication companies!
Let us look at art again. Once we can see where our fears come from (hardwired response) and understand that they are unfounded we can give free reign to our creative drive. What are the risks? Criticism - so what! Who are we trying to please through our art? There is only one direct beneficiary from our artistic efforts and that is ourselves going through the process of creating. Purchasers or admirers of our work (bless them) have their own personal benefits and the artist cannot be a part of this. An artist simply channels a process. Then it is over and the energy passes on when the art is shared.
One useful approach to painting confidence is to paint quick studies. No more than half an hour on a small panel (20cm x 25cm) preferably outdoors. The idea is to get something down quickly - an impression of what is actually there. This focus on the moment shuts out the incessant doubts that you mind throws at you. By using a large brush - size 8 - 10, you prevent yourself from getting caught up in little details too. Squint to see the large shapes of light and dark and try to get the colours and values correct then put them on the canvas. Do not worry too much about getting the colours or values spot on. If they are not correct you will take this knowledge and learn from it before moving onto the next quick study. I may mention here that a hundred or so quick studies should get you on the right track.
Do the doubts ever go away? Of course not - I did mention that they are hardwired in our mind so we need to be aware. Awareness is the key to freeing ourselves. Painting with freedom and spontaneity is a constant challenge that opens our minds to life's bigger picture. Most hurdles are figments of our imagination so let us ignore the doubts. Lets us create.
Find out more about quick painting studies and demos on My Studio and go further with Breakthrough Art Workshops.
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