A couple of weeks ago now I finally got to see the fired and finished panel that had taken me, all told, about 6 months to complete… and I hated it!
After so much expectation and waiting and determination to finish the thing, the final result seemed somehow disappointing. I had expected to have my breath taken away, when I actually felt flat, emotionless… nothing. And then came the inner critical onslaught: the outlines were not distinct enough; the stone tiles had each fired differently creating strange hues and shadows; one colour had evaporated away and had needed another coat entirely; another hadn’t fired at all as I had expected… Ugh. Why do I bother?
So why such a negative reaction? Here are three thoughts in three posts for the New Year:
1) Time: Each Piece a Milestone Marker
On one level, my response is a part of every growing artist’s journey. By the time you have finished one project, you are mentally and emotionally invested into the next. Not only that, but when an old work is finally fired, the experience and intricacies learnt through creating it have already been incorporated into the new. The finished piece marks a milestone already passed on the way – if not, you might not be advancing onward in your craft. In other words, finding fault with previous work can actually be a really positive thing. That piece becomes a momento of the skill you had and the stage you were at when you did it. A ‘celebration of then’, if you like.
I realise that something in me longs to complete THE piece that is the epitome of perfection; that great arrival at craftsmanship genius and the magnum opus of my portfolio. I want that ‘ah’ moment when my work satisfies my soul and proclaims my achievement of artistic excellence. It’s frustrating to feel like I miss it every time – there’s always something to work on, a thing to improve. I am never fully satisfied. And in all honesty, I may never achieve that elusive excellence and satisfaction.
But that’s ok.
The Joy of the Journey: In 2017 I would love to learn to appreciate my mile marking, completed projects. Not because they remind me that I haven’t reached my destination yet, but because they show how far I have come from where I started. I want to appreciate my work even while I view it critically. Just because I’d change it if I did it again doesn’t mean I have to hate it completely! And finally I’d love to enjoy the fact that there’s more to explore, a portfolio to expand and vulnerability in the journey. Yes, I make mistakes, have bad days and often do stuff that would horrify the professionals. Sorry! But I’m moving forward honestly. And that counts for something.
Part 2 in the next instalment…