What Comes First In Art?

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The Chicken Or The Egg

Is There A Secret to Building Artistic Confidence?

How do you get the confidence to start a painting?

Some of us like to draw everyday. On the other hand, some of us like to think about painting once in a while and some of us never get the courage to do it at all.

How often do you draw something you don’t like? Every once in a while? Every now and then? Every day?

Now, with more time on our hands we are Googling and scanning the Internet and we find our eyes drawn to a painting and then we begin looking at art. We find something amazing that catches our eye.

You begin to think perhaps you could do that.

You'll see other artists that are creating and then as you continue your search perhaps you'll study the Old Masters and be amazed at how Titian did clouds, or how Raphael painted faces.

Jackson Pollack

Perhaps like me, you will be lured to how

Jackson Pollock dripped and dropped paint on the canvas and amazingly it looked astounding. People loved it. In fact you love it.

Ah-Ha the art bug has bitten you.

Photographer Hans Namuth extensively documented
Pollock's unique painting techniques.

Photographer Hans Namuth extensively documented
Pollock's unique painting techniques.

Somewhere you get an urge to paint. It's important not to compare yourself to other artists but realize you have unique gifts that only you can explore, and you must share them.

Beginning artists become too self-critical when they first start. They grow very disappointed in their work and have moments where they wonder if they could ever be an artist.

It is so important not to let the negative feelings of disappointment in your first attempts to keep you from pursuing your art. Everything gets better with practice.

Everything can improve with the more knowledge that we have. We have to work at stopping that inner voice that is critical, that voice that says you can’t do that and turn it around and say I can do that. If we let negative feelings of doubt and disappointment take over, or if we tell ourselves we’re not good enough, it can deter us from creating our best work.

Lack of Artistic Confidence

Just like any skill, artistic confidence must be nurtured, artistic confidence allows us to create and really not care what family or other people think of our work. Confidence allows us to have a free hand at drawing what comes naturally, and it allows us to make our art in our own way, no matter how amazing and different other people’s art may be.

Confidence comes from creating something; stepping back and seeing that, yes, it has potential, and yes, it can be made better.

Sure it’s easy to ask your friends or family what they think, and some may say, “wow that’s terrific.” However, others may say, “is that a cat?” when really you were drawing a bat.

Artistic confidence is the ability to make our own art in your own way.

When you really think about it, artistic confidence is what allows us deep inside to have the courage to make art no matter how distinguished it may be from other people's art.

Remember your art and style is unique. It is your own voice, your own expression, your own particular way of drawing or painting. You can change it, you can alter it, you can color it in many different ways; but it is still your style.

Artistic confidence is the ability to make our own art in your own way.

You know if we look up the word confidence in the dictionary, we will see the definition. Trust. Conviction. Belief, or the state of being certain about something. It is a feeling of self-assurance that really arises from having appreciation of “One's Own Abilities Or Confidence.”

Synonyms: self-assurance, self-confidence, self-possession, assertiveness.

Artistic confidence means having with certainty, the trust, belief, and faith that we are capable of creating good art. It means loving ourselves and our art.

Marlene AffeldWild Mountain Orchid

LIFE Magazine
Photographer: Gene Smith


Grandma Moses

“If I hadn't started painting, I would have raised chickens. Painting’s not important. The important thing is keeping busy.”

Grandma Moses

Have you not heard of Grandma Moses? Google her. If you have not checked out Google Arts And Culture you should.

Anna Mary Robertson Moses (September 7, 1860 – December 13, 1961), was really known by her nickname Grandma Moses. She is considered to be an American folk artist. Anna began painting in earnest at the age of 78 and is often cited as an example of someone who successfully began a career in the arts at an advanced age. She painted what she knew. She painted her home, her family and her chickens.

“I look back on my life like a good day's work, it was done and I am satisfied with it.”

Grandma Moses

Which Comes First?

So what comes first the chicken or the egg?

Do you believe you have to learn how to draw in order to know how to paint? I believe in order to improve our ability and skills; we have to begin with an attitude of—”I can do this.”

Confidence is that inner strength that keeps us going even when we start something new, and it is not familiar, so it becomes a little difficult, and we become a little discouraged.

It is kind of like the chicken in the egg. We need a can-do attitude of confidence to grow skills, and then again, we need those pesky skills to grow confident.

We need one in order to have the other. So don't be chicken. Dip that brush into the paint and begin. In life, there always will be a chicken and an egg scenario —that place of wonder. I have found throughout the years that the more I experiment and explore and try new things, the more comfort I feel in creating.

At first, all my paints looked muddy brown, and I couldn't seem to create nice clean green. It always kind of looked like a brown-green, and then I realized not to rush to just take it one step at a time. Mix one color into the next and stop. Really there are only five colors: red, yellow, blue, black. and white. How hard can that be?

Self-talk is important, but the practice is more important. You need to do it and do it again.

Do you ever remember learning to ride a bicycle well? You don't remember the learning you just remember the doing; that first time of pushing forward and actually balancing. Yes, you wobbled and perhaps had a few failed attempts, but you got up again, and you tried it again, and you kept pedaling.

Confidence By Doing

So we agree that confidence leads to more growth. But the question still kind of persists in the background. How do we initially get confidence when our skills are so new. And aren’t they great yet?

The internet is full of teachers and coaches and artists who love to share, and that is what’s so exciting, but watching hour after hour of YouTube is not going to make you a painter. What is going to make you a painter is getting out your paints

Yes, some of those videos are going to be really helpful. And yes, I say please give them a go if you want to. I, however, definitely believe having a can-do attitude and mindset and positive thinking are incredibly important.

There is a secret: The deep confidence only becomes stronger by doing.

Real confidence only comes by trying to mix violet from red and blue. It comes from making art.

Learn by drawing more bats and cats and chickens and eggs. The more you create, the more improvement you will see, and your skills will continue to grow.

How do we improve our art? By making more art. And how do we create more art? By being confident, believing in ourselves, and by loving your own art. Yes, it is o.k. to be a little self-critical.

Start to make changes, make better choices, look at your values, look at your color, look at the way your eye moves around the canvas. There are tricks or techniques you can learn, but remember, the only part of this cycle of learning is by making more art.

So instead of wasting your time and energy trying to figure out how to make a perfect cat or chicken or bat or that perfect piece of art, or trying to figure out how to make art that looks like someone else’s. Who are these so-and-so someone else’s anyway? Just DRAW something! PAINT something!

Stop listening to that inner small quiet little voice of doubt, stop being disgruntled and disappointed in what you made, stop making those proverbial excuses, and stop pondering over the same ideas you’ve been mulling over for days.

Just make something. Right now. Learn from the wisdom of the ages.

“If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” –

Lao Tzu, ancient Chinese philosopher, founder of Taoism

Folk Artist

Here is a great idea: go read more about another famous folk artist.

The Inspiring Story of Clementine Hunter.

This story is how a former cotton picker became one of the most important folk artists of her time.

Clementine Hunter was a self-taught black folk artist. Clementine came from the Cane River region of the U.S. state of Louisiana. She lived and worked on Melrose Plantation. She is the first African-American artist to have a solo exhibition at the present-day New Orleans Museum of Art.

Yes, you are right her work is fascinating and colorful. Read More


Think of your artistic journey like climbing a ladder. Maybe you just found the ladder. Or maybe you have taken your first step and are only on the first rung. Don’t question which rung you’re on - just keep climbing.

The only way to get to the top is by DOING. You’re not going to dream or wish yourself up there. So you better start painting today. Go take a class. Buy some art supplies because that’s the only way to move on up.

Well, I think I am hungry. Do you have a spare egg or a cup of sugar or how about a piece of cake? Just an idea. Sorry, didn't mean to interrupt you. Are you painting?