In one of my more recent blog posts “Art vs. Crafts,” I mentioned how the process, not the result, is the priority in making art. I have to say that the process has indeed become a great joy for me, even an obsession (as evidenced in burning two meals in exchange for the artistic process over the past week). Though I remain a rookie at all this, this is how the process seems to work for me personally, for now anyway:
Begin with recklessness – I started with those yarn scraps. I took to them with my scissors, cutting each piece into thumbnail lengths. I slathered my canvas with glue and waited to see what would happen. Beginning with experimentation versus an extensive plan of action set the stage for further inspiration and freedom in the steps to come.
Study and ponder – For a day or more, I didn’t change what I’d already done or add anything more to the piece. Instead, I just hovered over it, thinking about what it reminded me of and considering what it could represent.
Embrace the revelation – I saw hints of a landscape and could have proceeded just with that observation, but as soon as the scene seemed to pulse with one of my favorite Bible passages (Psalm 104), I was ready and super excited to dig into my work again. I knew I had discovered the piece’s deeper purpose, and there was no turning back from embracing and following the theme.
Go with your first instinct – For some unknown reason, I was certain the next layer should involve ripped up grocery bags with text. But my piece got way too busy in following this first instinct and I was never satisfied with the effects of my handwriting. What I learned? It’s okay to start over again to introduce new or different materials. It’s not time lost—it’s process gained. For me, it revealed how I often default to words when it comes to artistic expression. It revealed how I could play with some new tools and techniques beyond my usual words.
Return to recklessness and studying and pondering – I raided my daughter’s toy basket for the pebbles and glass stones she uses to play kitchen (don’t worry, after I was done, she still has plenty). I twirled and twisted and shredded my remaining yarn scraps into shapes and curly-cues. With these additional materials in hand, I’d lay out a picture, then wipe it clean, then adjust my approach and create again. I reinvented my portrait of Psalm 104 several times until the Spirit seemed to say, “Stop, that’s it!” What a thrill!
Bring what you learned into the next project – My first inclination was to evaluate the end result. Is this really any good? What will other people think? It’s difficult yet necessary to turn off the insidious critic of self. I learned a lot in the process despite the end result… and there’s no better way to apply those lessons than to start another project! More on that later!