When did it happen? When did we grow past our childish impatience to sit in a car for an eternity, just to arrive at an exciting destination? When did that excruciating wait time turn into a more mature appreciation of the journey itself and give rise to the delightful exclamation, “road trip!”? It certainly changed for me and I find that interesting because my patience for creating art did exactly the same thing and in very similar ways. Ok, so the analogy isn’t perfect. Nobody wants to travel all the time. I guess the joy in a “road trip” for me is a break in routine, a change of pace, fresh sights and sounds. So the analogy breaks down a bit. In one way, however, the analogy fits perfectly, the maturity to enjoy the entire journey, not just the destination. For a moment let’s contemplate our mental approach to that journey that is our artistic development.
Look out the window. You might miss something!
My dear mom was known to exclaim this a time or two on our vacation trips and, as a child, I was usually unimpressed by what I saw. Bless her heart though, she would attempt to engage my sister and I in all the typical diversions: travel bingo, the spelling game, sing alongs, reading, etc. (keep in mind these were the pre-electronic media days of the 60’s). Most of the suggested entertainment was only minimally successful since, as kids, our focus was on getting there.
Mom had a great point though. If you’re only focused on a successful end product and not “looking out the window” on your art journey, you’re letting a lot of enjoyment and motivation pass you by. As one who has pursued art for almost 6 decades, I can say without a doubt that striving to “arrive” at a final art goal as quickly as possible is not only frustrating and ineffective, but promotes a sloppy, incomplete approach to learning. Maturity as an artist should be a journey of delight in each new discovery along the way, and perhaps re-experiencing old ones in newly appreciated ways. These artistic discoveries are not only fun, but form the foundation of our skill, understanding and style. Most importantly for me, these discoveries are doors that have been opened. I find that exciting and it motivates me forward to more discoveries, fueling an explore/learn cycle rather than a failure/frustration loop and feeling lost. I’ve done both and the former is way more interesting.
New discoveries, clearer horizons.
We interact with our art journey through various media. So in a way, media is a window to our art goals, it brings those visions to life. Granted, limits in technical mastery can cloud our view. Each new discovery makes that window just a little cleaner and our artistic view comes a little more into focus. It’s a mile-by-mile process but to really enjoy it, the journey itself must first be savored for each of those discoveries. Arriving at a well-done, finished work of art can certainly be satisfying too, but for me it wouldn’t be nearly as satisfying without the journey and its discoveries along the way.
Am I there yet? Not in the slightest. I may never ultimately arrive, but who cares? So far, the trip has been awesome!