How do you deal with the pressure?
Whether you're in your studio or at a prestigious Plein Air event, there can be an overwhelming feeling of needing to produce.
You drove for 2 days to get to the competition.
You're "competing" against the best invited artist in the country (I say in quotes because the concept of competing in such a subjective field like art can be a lofty ideal. The majority of the time it's completely up to the preference of the judge.)
And materials are expensive and you don't want to let your family down...
Needless to say, the pressure is on!
I'm going to try my best to explain how I deal with these funny circumstances that seem to arise from participating in Plein Air events, going to paint outdoors by yourself, or any scenario where something is on the line.
Some people would like to play it off super cool like none of that stuff bothers them and their innate talent and artistic ability carries them through with great success every time.
That certainly isn't the case for me.
Relieving the pressure of competing really comes down to the CONFIDENCE you have in yourself because of the WORK you've done.
The intentional practice you've put into your craft.
Your attention to detail
Your unwillingness to settle on anything less than your standard even when everyone else took the easy route.
Sure you can greatly reduce the stress of the trip by planning thoroughly and packing and thinking ahead to solve some of the problems you might face while out of town.
But the real gritty confidence comes from believing in yourself and KNOWING in your heart that you did everything you possibly could to be the best you can be at that moment in time.
You can't let thoughts about how good the other artists are creep into your mind.
It doesn't matter what they're doing, it only matters that you focus and try your best.
Assume you're there for a reason, and if you're not, try your best anyway and take pride in the work you're doing.
Yes, you want to plan ahead and make sure you have enough supplies and frames for the week.
But most importantly, you want to have developed the belief in yourself that you CAN do it and you earned your place among those other great artists.
This past week in Door County Wisconsin, I had the privilege of painting along side some of the best artists in the country.
I had a TERRIBLE start to the week.
I had started to build up these stories in my mind of how great all the other artists were and how they had made a mistake by inviting me and I didn't belong there. YADA YADA YADA.
I bombed two paintings from the jump and I was really feeling that pressure I've been talking about...
I started focusing on the work.
I got to the point where I decided, "hey, if they invited me by accident and I just trash all of my paintings from this week so be it." But I refuse to try less than my best.
I began thinking about all the preparations I had taken to be there.
All the years of practice, study and more practice.
And the space in my mind where I would have been worrying about what everybody else is doing began to open up and allowing me to refocus on what I was doing.
And just like that, I started to find my groove for the week.
11 paintings later with most of them sold, I decided that I probably was invited for a reason.
I want you to know that we all deal with these self destructive thoughts.
That we all come to a point where we have to decide to give up or keep going
If there was ever a time when things got challenging and my back was against the wall
I've never once regretted making the decision to keep going.
Real confidence is earned, it's developed over time and cultivated in your mind.
When you start to win those internal battles on a consistent basis, is when you start to develop into the kind of person that can weather any storm or challenge.
Then the Pressure won't matter any more.
In fact, you'll start to thrive on it.
If you enjoyed this email, all I ask is that you share it with a friend! A referral goes a long way and I would really appreciate it!