“Confidence” Should be a Tube of Paint

Real confidence only comes from study and practice.—Harley Brown

As I’ve been preparing to paint lately, I’ve been thinking about how great it would be if “Confidence” were just a color I could squeeze out onto my palette. It would mix smoothly with all the other colors, and give each brushstroke the snap and spring that would bring those flat shapes to life, to imbue those colored spots and masses with the energy and authenticity that would ultimately make my painting sing in a frame on the gallery wall.

Alas, I can’t find it on the aisles of the art store. It’s not bottled, boxed, compressed, or container-ed. I have been able to read about it: how it changes lives, impels men and women to the top of Mount Everest and to the bottom of the South Pole. It was inside Amelia Earhart’s leather pilot’s helmet when she flew across the Atlantic in one go, for the first time, and on the shoulders of General George Patton’s short jacket as he out-thought and out-fought German commanders across Europe and Africa. You can see it in Monet’s impressionist markings in the “Water Lilies” series in the Musée De L’Orangerie, and in the economic charcoal drawings of Picasso and Georgia O’Keeffe. Sometimes it seems like it’s everywhere I’m not.

Robert Genn was a prolific writer and artist, a Canadian with a can-do sense of life, and while he was here he wrote about things in life that way. He wrote, “To float like a cloud, you have to go to the trouble of becoming one.” Wow. That’s my goal, to paint like I breathe: easily, effortlessly, and economically. I’ve heard workshop instructors tell their students, “Use the Big Brush! Paint with Confidence, and Boldly! Go Big or Go Home!”

16×20 oil
currently showing at Western Regional OPA 2017

Lots of folks, I believe, would pay real money to go to a weekend workshop that issued “confidence” as one of the tools students would be using from then on to create their paintings. But I think we can agree that one can only be confident in what they do after having a series of experiences that demonstrate to them personally that they know what they are doing. Real confidence only comes from study and practice.
Bottom line, Rick, sorry, guy, you’re only going to paint with confidence after you paint miles of canvas. There is no other way. I guess I should say, “Go Hard or Go Home.”

That’s why artists, or anyone who wants to do their work confidently, has got to love what they are doing, and possess a driving passion to do it. That way, mistakes and failures won’t sink the ship: they’ll just be more coal that you can feed the boilers to keep going full speed ahead.

Okay, then, back to work so-I can Paint with Confidence!

To see more of my work, go to delantyfineart.com

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  • Rick, this is so true, and seeing students struggle and not understand why they are not getting it “quickly” is frustrating for the teacher. I keep trying to tell them to make all the mistakes because that means they are painting and trying stuff, and persevering! Definitely miles and miles of practice. Thanks for your post!

    • Rick J. Delanty

      Thank you for your comment, Marsha–at some point, it seems that we as artists just need to concentrate on the process of making the best work we can, and not leap ahead in our minds to thinking of either the final result of the work, what gallery we will contact to place it, or who might buy it. In the end, as you have said to yourself probably many times, “It’s the journey, not the destination.”

      • Hi Rick, thanks for your reply. It is funny… the name of my solo shows “It’s the Journey.” This is something I discuss and teach all the time! I’ve been given gifts at different times with the quote on it because they hear me say it so many times.

  • John Porter Lasater IV

    Well said Rick! Your sentiments will be sticking with many of us. I’d like to add that I hope I never become a cloud. Sounds lonely. Maybe being fog would be better…more down to earth.

    • Suzie Greer Baker

      I’m in a Fog often – does that count?

      • Rick J. Delanty

        If you are in a fog sometimes, Suzie, I have never seen you there. And the fog does lift. When I see you, you are painting your heart out. YOU, your confident self, is in your unique creativity, bold color, and giving to other people. You can’t hide that.

    • Rick J. Delanty

      If I can’t be a cloud, I’d settle for being a waterfall–always moving forward, never hesitating, unconcerned as to what rocks or obstacles might be in the way. A waterfall does its thing its way.
      I know, John, that’s what you do–one of the finest traits of a confident person, I believe, is that that person is true to him/her self. Thank you for writing.

  • Viktoria Majestic

    Great article! I feel the struggle many times. I will definitely share it with my students.
    Thank you so much for writing this, it’s good to know that there is hope.

    • Rick J. Delanty

      When you are painting, there is always hope. If we can be confident about one thing, that we will NEVER give up, that means the world to eventually triumphing over any obstacle.

  • Mary Rose

    Great Article! Thanks.

    • Rick J. Delanty

      I am so glad you enjoyed this, Mary Rose, thank you!