Saturday, October 24, 2015

Doing the Work

One of my hardest jobs as a teacher is trying to get the message across that in order to become "good" at anything, you have to show up and do the work. Taking a class, trying something once, heck, even trying something several times doesn't make you "good" (this is in quotes on purpose) at something. In order to know and understand what you are trying to make (be it a journal page that you are happy with or writing a computer program or learning to bake a cake or ride a bicycle) you have to show up and do the work. Repeatedly. 

You have to make a lot of things in order to make things that you are truly happy with. I'm watching my son work and hang his head in frustration because he thinks he's going to get it right or that he will love what he makes the first time. I keep telling him that it doesn't work that way. Ever. It's all a process and it should be about the process. We experiment. We fail. We get back on the damn bike and try again. We pedal harder.  The more we show up and do the work, the better we get.

In this day and age of instant gratification ("only one click away to get it now!" "Two hour delivery!" "Satisfaction guaranteed!") we seem to have forgotten that it's not only about the destination. It's about the journey. It's about the slow process of becoming, experimenting and trusting that journey. It's never about the pretty or the perfect. It's about showing up, doing the work, trying our best, learning, having a good time and just enjoying the experience. 

Art journaling, art making, isn't something to bang your head against the wall over. It's a process where you learn from your mistakes. You step back and note what you like and what you can learn from. You date your pages so you can see your process. You push. You pull. You repeat. Judgment gets pushed aside. You make and you make some more. It's about letting go and trusting the process. It's about getting messy and reveling in that mess. It's about the discovery of new ideas, new thoughts and the unexpected.

You don't like something? Step away from it. Note what you like or what you don't like. Don't compare your work to anyone else's but your own. If you don't like what you've made, either chalk it up as a learning experience, or try to rework it or leave it alone. (You could make color copies of it and rework the color copies.) After all, you have an entire book to fill with many more pages to experiment with. Don't be hard on yourself (especially if you're a beginner.) Your journal should be a place of truth and the truth is, you're not always going to make pages that you are head over heels in love with and that's okay. With that, I'm off to work in my book. 


Emie58 said...

OMG!!!! You've managed to describe in a few sentences (for me at least) what life is all about... "It's all a process and it should be about the process. We experiment. We fail. We get back on the damn bike and try again." This is a quote I'll be saving. THANKS!

Diane said...

Yup! I'm back on the bike after falling off Art Journaling. Thanks for the reminder Kelly!