Monday, August 11, 2014
Trust the Process
One of the more frustrating things as a teacher is when folks don't trust the process. Instead of opening themselves up to new possibilities that unveil themselves through trial and error, they focus on the end results: pretty, perfect and right now. As a teacher, you gently offer suggestions encouraging them to step back and try x, y or z. They might try a bit of y and you can tell by the look on their face that they are frustrated, wondering why they are here and not at all in a mood to ask, "What if?" on their pages. You try to encourage them some more but they don't seem interested in anything that you are saying. You turn your back to help someone else and find that when you turn around, they've completely covered up their work with something else.
How can we grow better as artists (and individuals) if we don't keep our hearts, minds and hands open to new ideas and possibilities? Why do we push aside our sense of play and experimentation? Why are we only focused on the finished product? Why isn't the journey our destination? Why can't we accept that sometimes failure is part of the solution?
I spent several hours over a period of two days recently on a journal page (see the above page.) I struggled with it. I added more layers. I cut things out, moved them around the page and pushed them aside. I used my pens and markers only to wipe them off with baby wipes and rags. I walked away from the piece when I had to. I went back to it even when it wasn't calling my name. I pushed. I pulled. I gave into the process. I sure as hell wasn't about to tear the page out (I don't work that way.) It ended up evolving into something completely different than what I started out with and what I had intended to make. I ended up covering up bits that I loved but you know what, I'm okay with that. It's part of the process.
When I sit down to make a page, I am making that page for myself. I am not interested in pretty or perfect (though some may comment on how pretty my pages appear to be), I am interested in self expression, exploration, documentation and discovering my truth. I am focused on expressing how I feel at that moment in time when I create that one specific page. If I feel that I have said everything I need or want to say on a page (through the use of layered images, color, composition, text, etc...), then I consider it a successful page.
I do not love every page that I make. I make pages that I am content with. I make pages that I have struggled with. I make pages that I hate. It's all part of my journey and I embrace them all. Just like life with good and bad moments. I learn from my experiences. I take what I need and use those lessons to become better at who I am and what I do each and every day.
I'm not judging the people that give up and cover everything over completely. I'm just trying to encourage them to step back, push aside judgments and try asking, "what if?" and go from there. It's only paper and it's full of possibility.