The creative process is a process of surrender, not control.
~ Julia Cameron
Trust the Process. Those are words of wisdom. Words of simplicity, although not always words of ease.
In my alternate life, my business life, I spend a lot of time working with business owners, teaching them new concepts, helping them wrap their heads around new ideas that sound foreign and a bit overwhelming. I find myself saying to them all of the time, Trust the Process. It may seem like you’ll never figure this out, but if you’ll just trust the process, and keep moving along, you will eventually have a larger picture to view. When you are able to look back on the larger picture that you have created, it will all seem to make sense. It will look good, and you will know you have accomplishment.
I sound so smart, and like I really know what I’m talking about. Funny, how is it that I can sound so smart, and really mean what I’m saying, but have so much trouble in my art life following my own advice??
Sometimes I know exactly, or at least mostly, where an art piece is headed. Sometimes I have a vision in mind when I get started. Many times, though, I have no idea. I just get started. What I am finding over time, is that whether or not I have the vision in mind at the beginning, somewhere during the process, I start disliking what’s coming out. I start thinking I screwed up, or I shouldn’t have done that, or the whole thing is looking yucky. I even go so far as wanting to abort the whole thing.
What I have learned from experience is to just keep going. Don’t worry so much about the fact that somewhere during the process I start to hate what I am making. Just keep working. Just keep adding a little bit more. Stop thinking so much about what I think I screwed up or the mistake I made. Because as I move along, as I keep adding something, I start to like the whole thing once again. Because as I try to work the imaginary mistakes into the overall piece, they become a beautiful part of the whole.
Sometimes, even, the mistakes become the best part of the whole dang thing. Sometimes, the mistakes turn out to be the best thing that I could’ve done. Sometimes the mistakes lead me to use a different color, or a different texturing tool, or to add a layer. The mistakes can become something I try to do again later on another piece, and instead of remaining a mistake, they become a new technique!
And it turns out, my getting frustrated and thinking I have gone the wrong direction, has become part of MY process. Weird, huh.
I think it has now happened that if I don’t have that emotional roller coaster to tie me to the piece, I don’t feel the satisfaction of accomplishment. If the whole art piece was too easy, I’m bored and looking for the next thing.
This art journal page is a perfect example. I was trying out some techniques for image transfer. It did not go at all as planned or imagined. In fact, I just ended up with a gooey shadow of what I was hoping for. I really didn’t want an art journal page in my newest journal to be an abandoned page with a gooey lump. That just wouldn’t do at all. So I kept on going, simply because I had to make it look at least a little better. By the time I had added some color and started incorporating the gooey mess into the colors, I started feeling a bit better.
By the time I got to the end, I got excited! This page for me is quite a bit different than my usual journaling. I actually used some text. I used a very different color scheme, or maybe not such different colors, but way more colors on one page than I typically use. I used some pastels that I don’t use much. I made a quick foam stamp for some added dimension, and now I have a new texture stamp.
I sat with one of my kidlets at the kitchen table last night as she looked at the page. She asked me what it was all about, so I bashfully read the text to her (I typically don’t share much text in my journals) and showed her where the “mistakes” were and how I got them to work. She was able to ask questions and paraphrase what the meaning is. She seemed to really get it. So the whole page turned into something even more than anything I imagined…
So. Trust. The. Process.
Is there a prompt here? Do you ever find yourself fighting with trusting the process? Okay, build your own Trust the Process piece, but try using a medium that you have sitting around but don’t use ever or often. Pull out the pastels, or the markers, or the paint color that you never use. If you usually use warm colors, go with cool colors. Do something new. And just keep going, just trust the process. Be sure to let me know how it turns out!