That inner elusive quality we all wish we had more of yet lack. I have still to meet an artist who does not doubt themselves and their abilities from time to time, weather they admit it or not. Some can be full of bravado but if they are honest with themselves they will also admit to the same malady.
So the question arises. How do we gain more confidence as artists? To answer this question it would help to know where confidence comes from. A formal qualification in art helps, however I do not believe that it is necessarily a confidence booster. I know of artists who have had no formal training, produce very exciting work and have no lack when it comes to promoting themselves.
In my experience the greatest confidence booster is recognition by our peers and nothing will ever kill self-esteem like destructive criticism from someone who you admire, respect or look up to.
When I was at art college (a lifetime ago) a teacher asked the class a simple question. “When cutting a thick piece of art board with a steel rule and a knife, do you do it with one stroke or do you cut through it using many gentle swipes?” One of the students (who was repeating the year) quickly piped up and answered incorrectly. The teacher lost no time in correcting her perception adding that she, as a repeat student should have known better!! Needless to say, within a few weeks the poor girl had lost all confidence in her abilities and dropped out of the course never to be heard from again.
So, how can we grow in confidence?
1. Seek constructive criticism from someone who’s art abilities and work you admire and respect. In this way you can only improve and grow as an artist and a person. So often we allow family and friends who have no artistic ability to dictate if a piece of art is worthy or not. I have done it!! Only just the other day a very good friend walked into our lounge and saw a recent painting hanging on the wall while drying. She effused about the colours and the unusual subject matter as never before. Not only did I feel good about the piece but about myself in general. In the heat of the moment I felt like I needed to do more paintings in that vein. So fickle! Shame on me! But it happens to all of us.
2. Miles of canvas! There is no substitute for hard work. You need to know the rules before you can ‘break’ them. As visual artists we need to assimilate, understand and apply the basics. A muscian needs to play scales before they can play Beethoven. Having built a solid foundation, you will then be able to go on to self expression and build the confidence in your art and yourself.