|Hanging out with Friends|
Observation: I’m at the awkward stage of the artist’s journey … that confusing territory between the place where you’re just delighted that something … anything … shows up, and that place of confidence where you can actually follow an inspiration and create something that is crafted by your intention.
It needs a name, this place. Uncertainty. Doubt. The Slough of Despond. (A bit overly dramatic and already used.)
Thinking about what to call this place led me to Google the stages of artistic development. As is true of almost anything, the number of stages seems to always be 3, 5, or 7. What did even numbers do wrong as to be so shunned?
There is one guy, Dr. Viktor Lowenfeld, who published “Creative and Mental Growth,” who uses six stages but his stages end at age 16 and relate only to style of art. Not very helpful to those of us who started late.
One model offers 3 stages: emerging, mid-career, and established. That’s only useful if you’re trying to understand commercial progression.
An article on finding your creative voice, helped. Loved the advice and the encouragement, but it didn’t answer the question. This model uses four stages, basically described as:
- Discovery Phase. It’s when you suddenly become fascinated with an idea or a new direction for your work, but you don’t yet have a clear path forward.
- Emulation Phase. By mimicking the work of their influencers, artists are able to build a basic platform of skills necessary to eventually branch out and explore new territory.
- Discovery Phase. In this phase, you may suddenly feel suffocated by the work of your heroes and may see an opportunity that you feel a little ill-equipped for, but feel compelled to rise to the challenge anyway. You begin taking risks as you sail out into uncharted waters.
- Crisis Phase. Once you become known for something, it’s tempting to begin to protect the thing you’re known for.
"For many of us, the perception of incompetence is the worst sin, at least psychologically. We would rather live with the perception of invulnerability than test our limits and discover that we actually have some."
"Be brave, hone your skills, and develop your unique voice."
Maybe what I’m trying to describe is the gap that Ira Glass talks about in his popular quote:
Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap.For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you.A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work.Put yourself on a deadline. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.
That works for me. For ten years I’ve been delighted with almost anything that showed up. Now, I want that “special thing” even though I don’t quite know what it is. It’s okay if it takes awhile.
As for the challenge: I'm going straight to Awake and skipping the two-page magazine spread. It’s my time off for good behavior. 😉 And, maybe I’ll come back to it later ... maybe.
For today, I hung out with a bright spirit who left too soon. She was a mighty magnet of people, bright colors and love, and I think of the flowers in this image as the many, many people she touched with her love. The Buddha image was actually a statue in her yard. I like thinking about her hanging out with her friends and teachers. It helps take away the sting of her leaving.
This post was prompted by Sebastian Michael's "21 Days to Creative Living" and "Photoshop Artistry" programs. More information here.