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Confidence

What is confidence? How does confidence feel? How does it taste? Why are there times we feel so secure and other times when confidence feels fleeting, vaporous?

This BLOG post is written in deep gratitude for the people who believe in me, because without you, this story would have never happened.

Last week, I was given the unique opportunity to experience the scope of my confidence in a very immediate way. A student in my Human Anatomy class last term recommended me to an on-line learning company in California called Lynda.com to make instructional figure drawing movies. From that moment on, I have been put on the spot doing something I have never done before, teaching in front of the camera. 

First, the company needed a short sample video of me teaching. This set off a series of humble afternoons in my studio making “selfie” videos demonstrating some of my basic figure drawing lessons. These are lessons I have taught for over 2 decades. I kept telling myself, “This is what I do…just be natural.” The films felt stiff and scripted. I didn’t like the way I looked. I didn’t like the way I sounded. My brutally honest 11-year old saw one and said, “Mom this is really bad. You need to smile more.”  She was right. What was I going to do? I couldn’t face my insecurity and awkwardness. I decided to give up.

What!?? Never give up. I am not a quitter! What kind of role model would I be to my daughter? I knew I would always regret not following through. Ok. OK.

I had to try something else. That week, in my Advanced Painting and Drawing class, I demonstrated how I set up my palette to paint.  I asked a student to videotape me. Playing this video back, I was totally in my element, teaching in front of a dozen students. I was natural and CONFIDENT. After witnessing my ease and strength, I went to my studio and recorded a video worthy of submitting.

Lynda.com loved it and invited me to come out to California for a screen test! Wow. That hurdle crossed, but wait, this was the real deal now. After coordinating and planning with some visionary folks, they flew me out to LA and I drove up Highway 101 to Carpinteria, CA last week.  After a light sleep, I awoke to make movies. My big screen test. How do you prepare for something you have never done before? There has to be some bedrock confidence to keep calm in a situation like this. Even “What to wear?” was daunting. 

Driving over to the film studio felt surreal, transplanted within 24 hours from the grips of one of the coldest, snowiest winters in history to dancing palm trees and the deep, blue Pacific stretching out before me. My shoulders dropped about 4 inches just feeling the warmth of the California sun on my skin. Suddenly, I was waiting in the very mod reception area of Lynda.com. I had my nametag. In walk my producers, two super-nice, young, bearded guys in plaid. 

First the magical stylist did my hair and make-up. Next, we went to the film studio. For the next 6 hours we recorded “Figure Drawing: 5 Simple Steps” under the lights with 3 cameras going at once. This was it. My task was to make 5 short films building the figure from structure to volume. This was really happening. My producers were amazing and coached me throughout the day. Fully confident with my lessons and demonstrations, I will admit I was somewhat daunted by the newness of the cameras at first. Which camera do I talk to? Smile. Smile. Smile!  

After a food truck lunch, I sat in the sun to gather myself, gather my confidence. My mantra of “This is what I do…Just be natural.” re-emerged. Heading back in for the afternoon, one of the producers noticed that as soon as my pencil hit the paper everything became more fluid. Sometimes at the end of a recording they would say, “That was good but let’s go for great.” And I knew it. I knew it in my bones as soon as the camera stopped whether I had done “good or great”. They got me to great each time.

When we finished, I was both elated and exhausted. What a day! How revealing to be put on the spot like that, catapulted so far out of my comfort zone. Being on camera is so immediate. I knew deep down inside that I was good enough to pull this off. Yet I still experienced some self-doubt, vulnerability. Was I afraid of success, of manifesting my fullest potential? I know I will be more composed each time I fly out to California to make a movie. I am so excited to have the opportunity to develop and present my love of Figure Drawing in this new way.

I am very grateful to the people around me who recognize my potential and believe in me. Until next week…muster it. Put yourself out there. And best yet, play it forward for someone you know. Encourage creative people to shine. CREATE.