Have you ever heard the phrase, “It is not about the product, it is about the process?” As an art teacher I have heard this often. I have learned the difference between focusing on the end product vs. focusing on the creative process along the way, and I really have come to fall in love the process of creating art. This is especially true when I am teaching art to kids, but I want to encourage you as an adult to think this way, too.
I have loved art my whole life, but only in the last few years have I experienced great consuming joy when I create art. What changed? My expectations of my final outcome. I recently wrote a blog on my mixed media process, and described this change in my approach to art: http://whimsylake.tumblr.com/post/139727261077/the-anatomy-of-my-mixed-media-art
“First, I must preface this with the fact that I consider this stage of my art a bit of a rebellion against my former self. I started as a timid artist, very careful not to make mistakes, and this would often result in me making no art at all- in fear of messing up. I was stuck with blank canvas syndrome. Darn white canvas… staring me in the face, daring me to make a mark, and shaming me if that mark was not perfect, causing me to doubt myself as an artist.
I discovered American artist, Tim Yanke, and everything changed from there. I watched his artistic process through a window into his studio called YouTube, and a spark was ignited: mess-ups are okay! Not only are they okay, but they actually bring my art to unexpected turns that I would have never encountered by planning every step. This new thought process was exciting!! It has given me tremendous freedom as an artist.
I feel a new artistic invigoration that makes me feel like a child again when I am creating, only better. I am older, I am wiser, AND I get to experience that child-like excitement that happens when I trust my instincts, throw caution to the wind, and just create for the sake of creating. I am not trying to impress anyone, I am not worried about a perfect piece, in fact, I often do not know what I will create anymore- it is a surprise, even to myself! I tell myself to not overthink it- and sometimes my art comes out fantastic through this spontaneous process, and sometimes not, but that’s okay. I will not create a masterpiece every time.”
Tim Yanke… I wish I could meet him one day. He has changed my artistic life. When I saw his buffalo for the first time, I was intrigued. I was reeled in and enveloped by his loose, sketchy, and bright style.
(Image courtesy of www.parkwestgallery.com)
Tim Yanke is a spontaneous artist. In fact, I have heard him referred to as an action artist. He turns up the music, and just becomes lost in his art, making quick decisions and trusting his instincts. Here are the videos I watched that changed my outlook on my art, and then showed to my students to inspire them. There is no fancy editing, it is just him in his studio doing his artwork:
I am at my computer writing this hoping I can inspire you to become more welcome to mistakes, and more open to spontaneity. And most importantly, accept your child’s artistic mistakes. I have a quote I’d like to share by Pablo Picasso: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” Picasso knew what he was talking about when he said this. I imagine he watched the creative life drain out of many people during his long life. He, on the other hand, became more unafraid and uninhibited with his art the older he became. Just look at his self portrait evolution from age 15 to age 90: http://www.boredpanda.com/pablo-picasso-self-portrait-style-evolution/
Have you ever noticed how uninhibited a toddler is when he or she is painting? They are just starting out their artistic life, and they are ready and excited to explore the world of color and lines and shapes. They are so very unconcerned about making mistakes. They are jabbing their brush into their paper, scrubbing holes into it, mixing colors together until they make brown. As they get older, they hear that they need to color inside the lines, and to “not scribble scrabble.” I have heard that one time after time after time. Their artwork may be compared to others’ and questioned, “Why didn’t you do your art like everyone else?” These little scenarios that an average kid may encounter from parents or teachers or classmates as they grow up start planting seeds in their mind- that their art is not good enough. They may eventually lose their childhood spontaneity, and inherit this line into their adult vocabulary that spills out so naturally and so easily it becomes second nature: “I don’t have a creative bone in my whole body. I can barely draw stick figures.” This is another one I have heard from adults time after time after time. It is a sad situation. People who utter this phrase were once spontaneous artists… long ago. If you say this phrase, please know that the inner artist still lives within you. And the more you say this, the more likely your child will eventually inherit this phrase into their vocabulary because they hear it so often. Give yourself some more credit, and try art again- and when you do, be ready for the mistakes to happen! We’ll call them “happy accidents.” And while you’re at it, read this with your kid: https://www.amazon.com/Beautiful-Oops-Barney-Saltzberg/dp/076115728X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1469318095&sr=8-1&keywords=beautiful+oops
Embrace the process of art, and don’t get so caught up in the final product. Don’t throw in the towel if you mess up, or should I say *when* you mess up. Mess ups are inevitable, so learn how to deal with them. Is the mess up giving you a new possibility that you had not considered before? Look at it as a problem solving situation. It may take you out of your comfort zone by changing your end result- and if so, great! It gives you room to grow as an artist- better yet- it is a learning opportunity, and makes you a better artist. Allow flexibility into your thought process. Don’t get so intent on what your final product “should” look like. Instead, consider it a welcome surprise to find out where your creative process takes you. It is an amazing journey if you learn to let yourself enjoy the process. You know what they say, “It is not about the destination, it’s about the journey.”