"Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve." - W. Clement Stone
So many times I find myself fluctuating between I can do it and I can't do it! Sometimes I can feel like a crazy person if I ride this roller coaster to much. One thing I have learned over the last 7 years since starting this art journey is that I can't always believe my thoughts and emotions.
As Shakespeare said, " Our doubts are our traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt." I love how Michael Jordan put it, "Limits, like fear, is often an illusion".
Even looking at some of the contemporary greats who come no where near (in my mind) to the old greats like Michelangelo, Da Vinci, PP Rubens, Rembrandt or Sargent, I realized that I was not even allowing my mind to contemplate that I could achieve that amount of success like David Leffel, George Carlson, Richard Schmid and numerous others. I had unconsciously relegated myself to the mediocre, the lower tier. I am a D list artist, not an A list and unconsciously I was settling for that. After all, I thought, I am grateful to even be that because when I first started I knew nothing and was never the most talented in the classroom.
Perhaps, I had grown so accustomed to mediocrity in my life- okay with accomplishing a little bit, but never really the best. I was always scared of being the best. I didn't want the spotlight on me, but I wanted to be better than the majority of my peers. There were several instances I can remember when that spotlight was put on me, that I would somehow back out, pretend to be sick, and pull back on how hard I would try so that the person who chose me would doubt their decision and give the position to someone else.
So you can imagine the madness that many of us put ourselves through, "Oh I want to be inspiring and achieve so much and give so much to the world!....Oh wait, I'm not good enough. Who am I? I can't be like Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, Einstein or Benjamin Franklin." Just think, though, all that time you are wasting doubting, in self pity, not trying you could have already been 10 steps closer to your dream.
You do matter! You are not ordinary!
I don't know why art matters, but I know it does. I have already seen over the last few years how I do matter. My work, my sincerity does matter and it has affected others in ways that I cannot understand.
I believe our biggest obstacle to overcome is ourselves, OUR SELF IMAGE. (I suggest reading the poem Equipment by Edgar Guest)
Our second biggest obstacle is to take DAILY ACTION in the direction of our goals and dreams.
This is the hard part. It's HARD. Once you get momentum going though, your confidence, zeal and dedication will grow. The main thing is to be CONSISTENT. Even if you can only practice for 20 minutes, do that every day. Trust me, it will become addictive. The goal seems so far beyond us at times, but you must always plan and take action first. What you are doing now to achieve your goal may adapt and change over the years, but you must begin somewhere. It is way to easy to talk about what you want to do and SO much harder to actually do it! None of us really admire people who take the path of least resistance and do the easiest things. No, we admire those who fought, struggled, disciplined themselves and worked every day on their craft to perfection. No effective change would ever take place without these people.
5 days a week I paint or draw. No matter what other duties I have to do (shipping paintings,photographing, marketing,etc.) I try and spend at least 50% of my 8 hour day doing this.
1 day a week I teach (some weeks I teach more)
1 day a week I take off for rest
- Sit in silence, meditate for at least 15 minutes before working.
- Study others work
- Visualize myself being great! I find this very helpful. I really try to envision myself living my greatest adventures, painting my greatest masterpieces, loving my greatest love.
- Contemplate my character. I think, If I died today would I be the person I wanted to be. (I know weird) Was I loving to others? Did I give back more than I got? Did I try my best?
- Try to do all things with the same attention and sincerity, even if it's folding the laundry. I realize now that how you do one thing is how you do everything. So I take even the most mundane tasks more seriously now and try and approach them with excellence and full attention.
- I am far from perfect and to contemplate being so can be overwhelming, so I always think to myself how can I do just 1% better today than yesterday.
- Don't Rush.
"Be faithful in the small things because it is in them that your strength lies." -Mother Teresa