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Friday, January 10, 2014

Self-confidence supports and propels, but is it enough?

"Hibiscus Glory" 16 x 20 oil on canvas (SOLD) Prints available
I was struck by the comments of my favorite artist and blogger Robert Genn in his last newsletter.
“A recent issue of the New Yorker Magazine had a cartoon titled "Faith-based cooking." The example they gave was a faith-based tuna casserole. "I got the recipe from the Internet," says a frazzled woman holding up her dish. "We didn't have any tuna so I used yesterday's leftover Chinese takeout. It should still be okay". 
"The cartoon reminded me of a friend who painted only one painting in his entire life. He was a businessman--a very successful one--who told me he didn't know anything about painting but that he had it in him to paint a magnificent one. I bought him everything he needed, including a giant canvas I primed for him. "I don't actually know what I'm doing," he admitted, "but I have faith I can do it and faith will be enough".

"Blending In" 12 x 16 acrylic on panel in barnwood frame
Genn continues: "The painting, long since lost to posterity, was pretty bad on most levels. It was done after Botticelli's Venus except there were many more Venuses. It was so bad that ordinary people had trouble looking directly at it. It was so bad I don't think a top notch New York art dealer could have got a bid on it. 
"To be fair to my friend, when he was not making money he often traveled to the great art museums. He could talk authoritatively about Caravaggio, Daumier and David--three of his favorites. But when it came to the art of drawing or mixing a sophisticated grey, he was running on a low tank of faith. 
"Now you know I'm not one to debunk faith. Strength of purpose and human confidence arise from it. Without faith, no one would take a chance on anything. But faith has to be built on some greater knowledge, some understanding of ingredients, things that actually interact and work with one another and methodology that has, if not provable, likely results. Throwing in yesterday's Chinese takeout to make a tuna casserole just won't cut it.”

"Home At Last" acrylic on 16 x 20 panel
Robert Genn is a master. He knows what he’s talking about. Wanting something is one thing. Actually accomplishing or mastering a skill is another. Wishing will never replace the constant effort of practice, learning and knowledge. Pretending may make us feel good, but in the end the prize goes to those who actually run the race, struggle to overcome, and then win.
If you’re putting in your time, don’t be discouraged. There is always a learning curve and darkness before the dawn. Don’t wave the white flag of defeat just yet. Keep at it and eventually you will achieve your dreams!

"Kelly's Rose" 12 x 16 oil on board