Are We There Yet Mommy?

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!

24 thoughts on “Are We There Yet Mommy?

  1. I have learned so much from you. I am 89 and just took up watercolor from watching your lessons. I would like to send you a check as I don’t do other methods. could you please send your mailing address. thanks again. Lenore Bright

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  2. Due to my time limits and lack of skills, I see my journeys as shorter road trips and I often stop for fuel. For example, I may want to accomplish a certain skill set so I rev up the engine to a comfortable but fulfilling pace of learning and practice and I “fuel” my mind with knowledge. However, the cumulation of these shorter road trips helps to bring my ultimate destination into view and I know if I actually “arrive,” if I actually reach a destination, another becomes visible OR develops into a reimagined destination. Either way, the practice and the learning begins again and drives me toward another place I want to be. I must admit that there are times I head out on a journey to nowhere in particular, just to see where I end up and there are times I turn around and drive back toward the comforts and predictability of home.

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    • Haha! Thanks Cassie, I like your analogies. Whatever works for you. I guess my main focus in this post is, whatever the journey, short, long or in between, it’s just as important to focus on discoveries along the journey as it is to focus on your destination (producing a finished work). Maybe even more important. Being anxious to “get there” rushes past a lot of joy and artistic revelation.

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  3. Steve, Thank you for the post. I’m pretty new to watercolor and am finding that I am often stuck (paralyzed) because I feel so much pressure to create a well done painting after each attempt. It actually got worse for me once I started having some successes!

    I will reread your blog and attempt to be grateful for the amazing watercolor journey.

    Blessings, Debbie

    “Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing.”

    -Camille Pissarro

    (Sent from my iPhone)

    >

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    • Yes, very common mind set and my reason for the blog post. Finished work that you can be proud of takes time and effort. That takes a commitment that you’ll never enjoy unless you enjoy each new discovery and skill.

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  4. That is so true! Watching the paint do it’s thing on paper is meditative. I wouldn’t want to skip to the end of the journey too quickly. By the way: I drove my parents nuts as a kid when I repeated the made up word “errrdy” (I loved how it sounded) on a 5-hour road trip. Thanks for all your teachings, I learned a lot! — Laureen

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  5. Hello again Steve,
    Thank you for your humorous and vivid accounts of your journey, I too have learned soooo much from
    your wonderful explicit tutorials. I may never be famous but I love the trip I am on with so many others.
    Even my mistakes I make I try and make a greeting card out of it. Usually using dies or punches in the
    areas of colors I like. So all is not lost, I am enthralled with spontaneous painting and I love them even
    if they come out looking rather torturous.LOL.. Those are the ones that may end up as greeting cards.
    I love the Bible verses too thank you for those little golden nuggets.

    Loving the Journey
    Gayle 💗

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  6. Hi Steve. Greetings from England. I am a graphic designer who managed to avoid watercolour throughout my art training. I am indeed enjoying the journey, I don’t NEED to arrive at something that helps pay the mortgage on my home, I don’t NEED to show anyone my little exercises. I am simply enjoying the moment that I can turn off the work and PLAY. If the play one day becomes something that I will treasure then great. But I am quietening my mind and enjoying the process. Thank you. Sharon

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you ,I have been having problems trying to learn new things and new mediums . I have been looking at it, like a school exam expecting to run before I good walk . I now know that you can teach an old dog new tricks !

    Liked by 1 person

    • I started learning to draw in 2012 and I am well past my prime. I can draw anything now and am learning water colour.
      Know two things. Age is no excuse, and there are no Art police. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Steve! I’m just now reading this and it has definitely struck a chord with me (I’m a musician too, so pun intended!). At any rate, I’m 65 and just took up watercoloring a couple of months after retirement from higher education…so that’s been about 15 months ago. I never was a doodler, didn’t enjoy drawing but I love color and have always been fascinated by all styles of watercolor pieces. So I’m trying to learn how to draw and meanwhile have produced a few watercolor pieces for my local art club’s prompts. I SO LOVE your videos and watch them whenever I’m on the treadmill. Most of my time is spent practicing though, and like others, I do feel some pressure to make something gallery-worthy every time. Patience! Patience! 😉
    I thought at one time you had eluded to having given a workshop either around your area or you’d traveled somewhere to do so. I have an artist friend who, along with me, would love to come to a workshop that you would hold…I can’t imagine it to be anything other than relaxed, fun and full of wonderful tips! Does this exist….or if not, would you consider such a thing?

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    • I don’t have a workshop yet but do have a landscape class coming up which is 6 weeks. Not conducive to travel I realize. I plan to do a one-day workshop in the summer probably but no firm plans yet.

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  9. Oh my Steve! This is so current for me! It is not about the destination…always the journey.
    This new discovery has given me a new appreciation about what ‘is’ rather than my life long belief of striving towards an expectation.
    It’s quite a revelation.
    I discovered you quite by accident…I’m so pleased that I did.
    Kindest regards. Tricia.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You are such a good teacher but as many
    Of the people here I’m new to watercolor and not that good at the Internet either can I watch you on YouTube from beginning to end in order?
    Do you have cds

    Liked by 1 person

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