So the panel that defined so much of my last year came out of the kiln and I hated it, remember? I’ve been trying to work out why I had such a strong reaction so I can move forward more knowingly in 2017. In the last two posts I dwelt on the side-effects of time passing and the unpredictable role of my co-collaborator, the kiln. Finally I want to consider how I scupper my own creativity…
3) Myself: Getting to Grips with Risk, Criticism and Expectation
You know, creating something to share is an act of vulnerability. All that time, energy and dreaming of a project in secret suddenly becomes public; even if not accessible to everyone, then at least out there for someone to stumble across. Before it was just tucked away in your mind – safe, untouchable and wholly unreal.
When I make something, I want to like it. But I might not. There’s always a risk. It might not live up to my hopes and ideas. It might not come out quite right. It might not be so good as so and so’s. I might not hold my brush as well as I’d have liked while painting. Perhaps my colours won’t look smooth. So many variables.
When I make something, I want you to like it. But you might not. There’s always a risk. It might not be to your taste. The colours might not work for you. You might not appreciate the shape or design. In fact, you might just think that ceramicware isn’t your thing in general anyway. Nothing to do with me at all!
With the chances being so low of an artist and observer both liking a piece, there’s sometimes a safety in criticism and disappointment. I find myself picking holes in my work predictively – at least if I find the ‘mistakes’ before you do then I’m protected from the shame of you getting there first!
And then there’s the issue of expectation and control. On a deeper level I find it hard after so much time and effort, to give my handiwork over to a process that I can’t fully orchestrate or manage. I want things to go according to plan without change or deviation. And yet it’s rare that something is completed exactly as I had envisioned right at the start… Expectations are altered. Every. Single. Time.
Powerlessness. Change. Getting used to the new. It can be wearying.
But something being different to expected doesn’t have to be bad! Unvaried predictability… where’s the fun in that!? Surprise can be a blessing, a revelation, right!? Expectations might not be met, but they could be surpassed… With every project there are lessons learned, ground gained and lots of laughs in the workshop.
All in all I have a strange sense that the kiln is good for me. That this craft, for however long, is mine for a reason. It has more about life than just artistic technique to teach me.
The Joy of Losing Control, Having Fun and just Doing my Craft: In 2017 I determine to be ok with surprises, try to loosen my grasp on expectation and enjoy the fun ahead. Here’s to those days when the finished piece is better than I’d hoped and I appreciate how wildly lucky I am to be on this beautiful adventure in art.
(Above – the glass-mounted panel waiting for me at the workshop)