The most crucial elements?
Passion and practice. Pure and simple.
I love discovering new things and have always enjoyed a reasonable capacity to absorb and retain new concepts and ideas, so inevitably I jump straight into scouring for as much information as possible in terms of techniques, theories and practices in a bid to fast track my development.
But the more things I find out, the more obvious it is – I just need to get in, get my hands dirty and try it for myself.
But what am I waiting for?
I’m not sure if it’s procrastination, fear of the inevitable let down when my first attempt does not live up to my own expectation, or if I just want to make sure that I use every ounce of my limited time to it’s full potential – working full time and with young children means I will always be time poor so using my time wisely is definitely a balancing act.
The more I read and discover the more I understand, but at the same time I am acutely aware of how much I do not know or understand, not to mention the skills I need to improve on that I wasn’t even aware I would need.
As they say – you don’t know what you don’t know.
Throughout this process of learning and discovery, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the shear volume of new ideas, theories and techniques and end up in a paralysis of analysis – I need to get better at all these things, but where the hell do I start??
At the beginning of the year I gave myself the goal of entering something into the Royal Adelaide Show which is held around this time each year. This goal was made well before the light-bulb moment when I decided that creating art was something that I wanted to make more out of than just a hobby – this came some months later.
The thought ticked quietly around in the back of my head – I’m not sure when I expected to create this piece of art, either I assumed it would just happen or maybe I never really expected to follow through with it – but time marched on and the closing date for entry applications quickly arrived.
While I had no clear idea of what I was going to present, the relatively cheap entry fee caused me to enter in 4 different categories (charcoal / graphite study, pen & wash study, acrylic landscape and portraiture) with the thought that I could have a bit of a dabble with each and if I came up with something worthwhile, I would enter it. If there was nothing I created worthy for any of the categories, I would just not enter anything and all I would have lost was the small entry fee.
It occurred to me afterwards, bar sketching the odd portrait or two, I didn’t have a great deal of experience in any of the three other fields.
And so I found myself in a mad scramble to learn as much as I could in as shorter time as I could, with an aim to create maybe three pieces in each category so I had a wider range of options to choose from to find a viable entry piece.
As it was, I found that by throwing myself into this fairly ambitious challenge – contrary to what I would have naturally expected – the aspect I enjoyed most of all was just sitting down and working on a single piece in a medium I had no prior experience, at a patient and controlled pace.
This is something fairly foreign to me, I am usually a gung-ho ‘smash it out and get onto the next one’ kind of guy. But the plan to knock out quick fire pieces to hit a competition deadline was secondary to fully immersing myself in the creative process and being patient, in the moment and most of all – enjoying myself.
Would I have finished pieces in time for the show? In the greater vision for my life going forward, it was irrelevant. What really matters is that I continue learn, refine and improve more every day and most importantly – do something which brings me great joy, excitement and makes me feel fulfilled.
Passion and practice. Pure and simple.