Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Florida Scrub Jay and the Illusive Nature of Confidence

Sometimes I wonder where my confidence goes.  It's as though it has a mind of its own.  One minute its around to help me move forward, in the next it has vanished and can't be found. Instead I hear a doubting voice.
Natalie Goldberg, author and writing teacher, calls this thinking "monkey mind", a mindless chatter with endless ways of thwarting our efforts.  For me, it is likely to show up when I'm trying something new, when I'm tired, feeling pressured, or when I set out to do something that I haven't practiced for a while.
Fear is the culprit, of course.  And the dialog goes something like, "whatever possessed you to think you could do this?"   It's a critical voice, a fearful voice, and it ultimately warns, don't take this risk, stay in safe territory.  It's also the anxiety that builds while you're still in the void, while you're facing the blank paper.   The inspiration to create requires that you step outside your comfort zone, that you put yourself out there and move forward despite uncertainty.
Confidence requires action.  When I begin a painting, I have some idea of what I want to see happen, but it is not until I start the journey that I can see the path more clearly.  Each decision forms the basis for the next, until the painting begins to reveal itself.  Sometime during the process, anxiety fades, time disappears and I notice that I'm smiling.  
It's one of the delights of watercolor, a medium that is fresh, alive, full of movement and surprises.  I have some control, some idea of what to do, but I won't know the whole of it until the painting is finished.  A bit like life, isn't it?  And despite the anxiety generated, mystery is key to the dance.  When the music starts, when the watercolor moves, you soon forget those nagging doubts and just dance.
As I worked on this painting, I had some concern that my values were going to be too similar throughout and that I might not be able to remedy this.  So I turned my focus to my subject, painting in the detail so I could see the relative lights and darks more clearly.  Two things happened.  Foremost, I fell in love with the bird again and that gave my confidence a boost.  Secondly, once the color values in the bird were established, the foliage values began to fall into place.      

9 x 12" Watercolor on 140# Arches cold press paper

Links:
To see more about the delightful personality of this bird, visit:  Florida Scrub Jays--A Specialist Species
And for more about values, visit Inauguration Chickadee

5 comments:

  1. I spend the first 3/4 of any art project walking away from it. I like to think that's part of the creative process, but it's really monkey mind. Glad you pushed through it, because I'm in love with your scrub jay too!

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  2. Oh my gosh, I know this feeling so very well. Wonderfully helpful hints as well. Love it.

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  3. Monkey mind......I have this affliction often and you have explained it perfectly :) I will tuck your words into my monkey mind :) Lovely picture beautiful scrub jay....

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  4. It's a lovely painting Vickie. And the voice? I hear it all of the time!

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  5. Wow! You are an outstanding watercolorist! Beautifully painted Scrub Jay! I really like how you show your process in pictures :-)

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Welcome! I am glad to hear your comments, questions and feedback! Vickie

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