This article is by Keith Bond, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.
My thoughts on the topic of confidence were too lengthy to fit it into last week’s article. So, I am continuing a few more thoughts today.
First, I would like to follow up on one idea that I briefly touched on last week. It prompted a comment from one of you that caused me to ponder on it a bit.
I said that I know artists who have tremendous ability and create beautiful work, but lack confidence. A comment was made that during the creation process, such artists probably have confidence in their abilities, but lack confidence after the fact. I do believe that there are certainly some who fit that description. But people are too complex, try as we might to lump everyone together.
Drive vs. Confidence
My mind kept coming back to Van Gogh. Admittedly, I am no expert on Van Gogh. But I think it is common knowledge that he had a lack of self confidence. It is also believed that he was a manic depressive or bipolar. He suffered from alternating episodes of extreme enthusiasm for art and depression. As he developed as an artist, his works became more and more impassioned.
With more expressively bold brushwork and intense color; and if his mental state weren’t known; his work would give the appearance that he had confidence in his art.
As I mentioned, I am no expert on him. Nor am I an expert in psychiatry. But it seems to me that his drive to create does not equate with confidence. Despite his lack of confidence he needed to express himself the only way he knew how. That was through his art. His dedication to his art resulted in masterful works. But I personally don’t think he ever had much confidence in his art. Perhaps there were a few moments when he had some. But he certainly did not have the type of confidence that would sustain him. Rather, I think his lack of confidence, but desire to express himself is the reason that he strove so diligently to improve his art.
Van Gogh was extreme, for sure. But his example illustrates that there is a difference between confidence and drive. The need to create is deep down within many people. The confidence in one’s ability is another matter all together.
Confidence despite Rejection
Now let’s look at the early impressionists. Their work was rejected by the salons of Paris. Yet, they followed their own voice and we laud their work today. Their drive, coupled with their confidence, enabled them to persevere and ultimately gain a following. Their confidence was not dependent upon their acceptance by the salons. Yes, I just lumped these artists together. Certainly, they were not all at the same level of confidence. But my point is that some artists have so much confidence in their work that they can persevere even in the face of rejection.
That brings me to the next idea:
Cautionary Word about Seeking Confidence
Be careful not to rely too heavily on the acceptance of others. True confidence comes from within. Recognition from others can be good (sales or critical acclaim). These things can confirm or strengthen your faith in yourself. But too heavy a dependence on them can also crush you when you get rejected from a show or when you have periods of slower sales.
Confidence based upon outside forces is fleeting and volatile. Inner confidence endures despite the ups and downs. But, not without work.
Confidence Needs Nurturing
Just like muscles need exercise – just like you need to constantly practice your craft – your confidence also needs exercise. Last week, I shared a few ideas to develop your confidence. Many of you added great advice in the comments. There are many more ideas, I’m sure. Some find it useful to hang reminders of their accomplishments on a bulletin board to sustain them in times of doubt. Others keep examples of their early work to compare with recent work. What other ideas do you use for nurturing your confidence?