I just wrote this as a response to Cara’s comment on my previous blog post and I thought it was interesting enough to stand on its own. If interested, please read the comment thread on the last post for some additional context. Lots of great ideas were put forth by the commenters. Anyway, Thanks for reading!
Hey Cara, lots of good stuff in this comment. I especially like the idea: “it’s the magic that happens when we allow what we’ve created to exist, without placing our unrealistic expectations upon it.” I so totally agree that we can get in the way of not only our own enjoyment of what we create but of our own ability to learn and develop further.
Expectation in so many ways is a false paradise. By mapping out a rigid destination we take all the surprise and adventure out of the discovery. What we end up with is essentially what we started with, and it is entirely circumscribed by the paltry limits of our own imagination. Not only can we learn more by letting the process and the clay teach us, but allowing disappointment to flavor our feelings when things don’t exactly match up can be a reason to stop making things.
Its not wrong to aim at specific outcomes, and a certain level of competence will pay off with new doors having been opened. Learning how to get specific results is a necessary way of educating ourselves, but to only worry about what happens with this one lump of clay puts an unfair weight on it. As Scott said, its also about learning how to learn. And this one lump is only a small step in that process.
In many ways its better to look at what we do as practice. That way we acknowledge that we are on a mission of improving what we do. Practice. The more things we make the more experience we get. The more experience we get the better we are able to do things. The better we are able to do things the better they will come out. The better they come out the more we will enjoy what we are doing (or so I believe).
And getting students to enjoy what they are making is key, honoring “the work she was able to accomplish ‘at that time, in that moment’” as you say. The long view is that we are building a foundation, and out of that foundation will grow many more things of undreamt beauty. It is a springboard into the great unknown of our creative potential. And each step along the path of improvement will create new wonders and even more interesting visions of what is possible.
Keeping your eye on the long view lessens the burden of expectation, and recognizes that the process is what counts, not necessarily some imagined destination. And certainly not this one lump of clay. You may not know where you are heading, but getting there should be fun. Try something new. See what happens if you do it this way. And that way. It may not always be pleasing, but if you are inquisitive and open minded you are on the path of growing as an artist. That’s what I try to tell my students, at least. Good luck!