Petting Lines and Confidence

Continuing where I left off with Layers of Doubt I am talking more about confidence when making art. I thought it would be best to demonstrate the habit of “petting” lines. You can see it in the video below.

It’s when an artist retraces their line work or goes back and forth over it to create hairy looking lines. I believe it to be a symptom of poor confidence. It takes some concentration but it’s a relatively easy habit to break and it shifts your mind from groping around for a line that is familiar to a mind that is thinking about the form more. Note:I’m sure I still do this from time to time.

You’re an artist!

Sometimes an artist will come by my table at shows with the intent to ask me for a portfolio review but they find themselves being shy and hiding their portfolio. I attempt to help by asking "are you an artist?" and I rarely get an unconditional “yes” for a response. Instead it’s usually, “I draw some.” You’re an artist!

Please feel free to approach me with questions and comments on your portfolio,etc.

Where ever you are with your art, I have probably been there before and would love to help however I can.

Here’s a little anecdote from something 10 years ago. I was at GenCon with Richard Leon and ended up bumping into Jon Schindehette and introducing the two of them. Jon was an art director for D&D at the time and Richard was my boss. Richard proudly says, "Joe is my art director!" as if Jon and I were remotely in the same league. Richard was talking me up which was very kind It but at the time compliments made me uncomfortable. I immediately wanted to moderate the statement so I said ( I paraphrase), "oh it's mostly spreadsheets and making sure people hit deadlines." Jon responded with (I paraphrase), "that's the job." It’s true that most of the work of art directing is determining what is needed, who can do it and when they need to complete it by and yet I didn’t consider myself a real art director.

Strengths and Flaws

I know as an artist I tend to focus on what I need to improve and during those times when I can’t seem to start a piece it’s from not remembering what I am good at. I suspect that many other artists are the same way.

1.HOMEWORK! Create a list of your accomplishments and the feedback you often hear from clients,customers and colleagues. It may feel like that list is someone else’s but it’s about you. You ARE an artist,etc. Keep this in the back of your mind as a sort of armor you can don when doubts assail you.

2.Don’t look at other’s work right before beginning your own work. I often think about the Mark Twain quote, “comparison is the death of joy.” There is a time to look at other’s work but I would save that for the end of your day or for weekends.

3.Be a student between working on pieces of art but think of yourself as a know-it-all during the process. So I stole this idea from listening to some athletes discussing their mindset and saying how during competition they can only compete if they have full confidence in themselves . They acted as though they developed a confidence switch they could throw when it came time to perform which I found fascinating. I really think this can become second nature by simply repeating “I know this” while working. I think a lot of my art skills came about by constantly asking myself during the process, “am I looking into the shadows? should this edge be lost?” until eventually I didn’t have to ask myself those questions and it became instinct.

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