As a lifelong abstract painter, textile designer, graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, author, and creativity enabler, I have many ideas about helping you be a more confident artist.
First, I’d tell you to take a class. Pick your passion—beading, painting, pottery, figure drawing. I always encourage people to sign up today for a class, in-person or online. It will go a long way to help you stop feeling like you’re faking it or incompetent. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve spoken to who feel like they are at some sort of a creative deficit because they didn’t go to art school.
Want to be a better artist? You’re not going to get there through fantasizing, planning, or hand wringing. You have to work. Repetition and muscle memory are essential for progressing in your work. Just like if you started a yoga practice. At first, your muscles would be shaky and insecure. After six months, you’d have more confidence in your movements. The exact same thing is true with art. It has to flow from your body effortlessly—full of grace, trust, and knowing. And the only way to get there is repetition. Practice. Work. Therefore, mindfulness of movement as you paint, draw, or sculpt is important. When you draw, the movement should flow from your shoulder, not your fingertips. Try to let your work flow out of you almost as a dance.
But those suggestions, taking a class and practicing, are not the most important part of the process. You want to be more confident? This is the real answer: The work you make as an artist is a reflection of you.
Your artwork reveals your talents and strengths, as well as your vulnerabilities and emotions, your feelings of unworthiness, and your shortcomings. It will reveal all of you. If you are brave enough to share your art, it will take you deeper into yourself and reveal your heart and soul more fully to others. If you lack confidence in your art or your creative talent, my guess is that you also lack confidence in yourself in other areas of your life.
Art reveals everything. If you think you’re supposed to make perfect, lovely creations every time you sit down to work, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. I make horrible things on a regular basis, and I have been selling my art since I was 13 years old.
Your worth and value as an individual have nothing to do with how well you paint birds or the perfectly turned corners in your quilt. To feel truly confident, you have to utterly love, accept, and trust yourself and all your failures and inadequacies. You have to laugh just a little when you make a mess. You have to put your trust in something larger than you. True confidence comes from giving yourself permission to exist in a state of grace, peace, and love exactly as you are right now: perfectly imperfect, weird and wild, and shaky and afraid. Everyone is this way. We all want love and acceptance. But we’re so often looking for it on Instagram or from a peer or spouse that we forget to look for it within ourselves.
True confidence happens when you trust yourself, when you operate from a place of surrender, vulnerability, humility, and joy. Have a sense of humor when you fail. It doesn’t mean you are a failure. It just means you still need to work.
My last bit of advice: consult your inner kid. She will guide you beautifully, if you trust her. When you wonder if you are enough or your work is enough, look into your heart and check with her. After all, she is why you’re here.
There is no faster way to take a deep dive into the creative process than through a drawing warm-up. This takes you to that mindful state. Draw with charcoal on newsprint or pencil and paper. Close your eyes, inhale, and start moving your hand on the page. Start making large figure eights, using the side of the charcoal. Don’t think of the outcome or beauty; be aware of the fluidity of movement. Feel your mark making flow from the muscles in your shoulder, not your fingers. This warm-up will help you loosen up, connect with yourself, and immerse yourself in your work more deeply. This is a great time to set an intention for your studio practice. It also helps you let go of perfectionism and being too focused on the end result.
Carrie Bloomston is an abstract painter, textile designer for Windham Fabrics, creativity enabler, mom, and author of The Little Spark: 30 Ways to Ingnite Your Creativity. She lives with her inspiring family in the desert of Phoenix, Arizona.
Visit Carrie’s website at carriebloomston.com.
This article appears in our January/February 2018 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine, which is filled with ideas and projects designed to help make you a better artist. View our lookbook preview for a special sneak peek inside the issue!