Friday, December 20, 2013

Work with Confidence

I made a mess (rather than a painting) yesterday, I think. But it did help to keep telling myself, during the process, that things were going fine, that I just needed to keep going with aplomb and something good might happen. It's the aplomb that's the trick—that's the "not-thinking, just responding" part that can do a lot of good.

The hard part is that you do have to arise out of that mode sometimes to take a look at what you've done, assess/appraise, and then dive back in...and that in-and-out can be hard to manage. Sometimes you can't get out far enough to see, from an objective perspective, what you've done; other times you can't get back into not-thinking mode. Sometimes you don't know when to stop and get out, or whether to go back in.

Plus that really loose, all-in mode can be tiring, and only sustainable for a certain amount of time.

But, as Corot said, working with confidence is powerful. He said to make confidence your motto—that and integrity. So right, and so wise. Integrity keeps you on your own track, in touch with the subjects/moments/compositions that are meaningful and interesting to you. It keeps you buoyed up by opening the door to what you uniquely have to offer—a crucial thing to keep you motivated and happy and for your work to have force and meaning. And confidence gives you power: it lets loose your energy and enthusiasm and openness to risk.

Things will not work out sometimes, but working with confidence is the best way to work. And it's the most fun.

Trying to "fix" a painting when you get back home has this problem embedded in it: that you're no longer in the same state of mind that you were in outside. Over and over I see the results of this. I do continue to make changes when I'm back home (only small ones; I may as well give up if I need to make big ones), and it's amazing how hard it is to make a mark that will "fit" into the painting. The marks that fit came from a certain moment, a certain state of mind, that is over, done, gone. I try to will myself to grasp the painting in a glance and know what's needed (in whatever area is bothering me), but even when I can feel what that is, it's very hard to work with the same force and freedom that I had available to me outside, on site.

So there's a downside to having your work arise out of the specialness of one time and one place.  But the upside is that when you're there, it's there—that feel for the moment. And you can ride it like a wave.

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