The weather is amazing today and I feel like sharing a recent small view from a trip to Mexico recently. A decent swell had a couple guys in the lineup and I'm enjoying trying to keep it loose and still express the feeling of the beauty of catching a wave. This one is 6x12" and titled "Morning in La Mision" a favorite beach of ours just below Rosarito Beach.
I've found that as I go in search of the next exceptional painting, the harder I look, the more likely I don't find what I think I went in search of. I often find what I'm looking for when I least expect it. I'll turn around and start to head home and suddenly there's a "eureka" moment. By looking back at what I overlooked going in a different direction, the light, the scene, the subject matter, something,reveals itself. There's the painting, staring you in the face. Paint it, photograph it, do something… but don't overlook it. The past was yesterday, the future is tomorrow, that's why they call today "the present". This painting is Catalina Island's west end, far less visited than Avalon, Catalina's main town. I found this view walking back to the Banning House after a long day of painting. It reminds me of how almost all of California's coast looked 100 years ago. (Day 3 of the 7 day challenge from Robert Goldman.)
This blog is in response to an article about an artist that wouldn't enter her work in an exhibition due to her fear of having her work rejected. I think confidence is a result of being realistic. It's not magic. Confidence comes through success, often due to very small "baby steps " that move you toward a longer term goal. Self discipline needs to be part of the equation as well. A friend once asked me if I knew what self discipline really was and went on to say "It's remembering what you want." That really applies to everything -- losing weight, learning a new skill, etc. Perseverance is the one most common denominator of most of the people we think of as confident or successful. I have often "waffled" or considered not showing up or signing up for an event, art show, reception etc. What I've found is that opportunities I never would have dreamed of, happened because I just "showed up." I have had many doors opened up to me by engaging a stranger in conversation at an art event. Sometimes it results in a sale, a new student in my painting class (this happens frequently), offers of a place to stay when I travel. I know I come across as confident to others, especially when I talk about art because it is truly my passion. I often am so enthusiastic talking about it people just laugh. My passion is creating it, teaching what I know, being inspired by other artists work, and just talking to another artist and forging a friendship through common experiences. I teach painting but what I really teach is enjoying the process. If you don't enjoy something, why do it? Life is too short. I'm over 60 and my high school art teacher is still a close friend. She gave me confidence by encouraging me to take risks and try new things. Thank you Linda (and John). I think it's important to measure yourself against your peers as a way of knowing if your confidence is false. If other people (not your friends and family) tell you your work is good, it probably is. But don't rest on your laurels, use that input to be better at what you do, everyday. As Jack White (and many others) have said "Just show up." Life is full of confidence-building experiences. For a surfer, dropping into a wave is the critical part of riding it. After that, it's all just fun. Sp as they say, you won't know if you don't go.
I recently read an article about "finding your style." I think that if you have to search for your style, you have it backwards. Through growth, exploration, repetition and understanding, your style finds you. I was taken aback the first time someone said to me "I'd know your work anywhere." I didn't really think my work had a "style." But looking back, I was an illustrator and did a ton of graphic design work before I turned to painting as a career. I worked hard to establish myself as a dependable, creative artist. I think that over time we establish ways of working, that are subconscious and from those deep places, a consistent look or approach eventually becomes your own. The key word is eventually. You can't find it if you try to force it or hurry the process. We have all seen work by artists that is formulaic and boring. This is not style, it is an example of someone who is unwilling to invest the time required to challenge themselves enough to find their own voice and artistic path and continually grow creatively. Work to be the best artist you can be. Your "style" will find you.
Welcome to my world, obsessed with painting. Not just my own painting, but any good painting. I like so many styles of art and have artist friends that continually push me to rethink what I do, why I paint, what I know. What I am finding out about painting is that all my work is a biography of who I am. Each painting reflects a part of my life, as a student, artist, teacher, husband. As I look back at past work, it is a visual diary of where I was at, at that time, wearing all of those hats. Looking forward, I often lay awake at night trying to resolve the next thing I should do so I don't spin my wheels or waste a day. I'm fortunate to do what I do, and still feel I have something more to say.