Friday, October 9, 2009

Sometimes you have to Suck it and See

Today I want to talk a little bit more about one of the things that I realized when I was immersed in my color workshop a few days ago. In that post, I said that I thought that the creation of art was a lot like life. Let me elaborate a little bit on this topic.

One of the first things that helped me with this realization was when Brandon (the workshop leader) showed me how different my piece looked from a distance, compared to how it looked in my lap. As I had been working on it, I really didn't like how it was turning out. Brandon emphasized that it was critical to hang your work up on the wall and stand back to get perspective. "When your work is 10 cm from your nose," he said, "You are blind to it."

Now I ask myself: how many times have I had an inter-personal struggle (at work, at home, with my child, with myself) that was basically solved when I stepped back to see another side of the story? How many times have I been overwhelmed by a difficult moment in my day, only to realize that it is only one piece of a complex puzzle which is composed of both joyous and hard pieces?

Brandon pointed out that at a distance, you can see what is working and what isn't. And one of the rules of the workshop was "No undoing what is already done." If something wasn't working, we were encouraged to change our method, change our color pallette, change what needed to be changed and move on. After the change was made and worked up for a while, then we were to step back again and compare our change to what came before; to examine improvements, and also see what could be changed yet again.
With every step of the workshop, the life analogies became more and more obvious; so much so that sometimes I'd let out a little giggle. "What's so funny, Blossom?" Brandon would ask. "Oh nothing, just enjoying myself," I'd reply. I mean, in life there's no backspace; there's no "delete" button. You have to either ignore your mistakes and keep on making them over and over again, or you recognize them and say, "let's not do that again if we can help it, okay?" The value of the "No undoing your work" policy in the workshop was that your "mistakes" served as a lesson that you could witness. You got to make an improvement, with your mistake being your guide. In this way, I realized that mistakes are actually my friend! WOW!
At one moment in the class, I was struggling with choosing another color and went to Brandon for help. I asked what additional color he thought my pallette needed, and he said, "well, let's go to our materials and find out." I was struck by this because, 1) He didn't have the answer in his head, and 2) his method was exactly what mine would have been, had I not had someone there to ask: he went to our yarns, laid my work down amongst them, and just picked through different colors to see what he thought would look good. In this way, I realized that I am trustworthy. I actually do know what to do. I have my own perspective, which is unique and interesting and worth expressing. Both in life and in art. I ask myself, "Will I like this flavor of candy?" and the answer is that I will just have to Suck it and See! Maybe it will be bitter, maybe it will be just right; I'll never know until I try.


Pam Corwin, Business of Crafts said...

I swear, your blog is my favorite ever. You always have a nugget of wisdom, something wonderful to share. I love how this workshop was, at least for you, abut so much more than color, and I really appreciate that you shared it. Suck it and see, indeed - love that!

Amy said...

Beautiful posts (and not just the photos!). Thanks so much for this!

Mimi said...

Thank you for your words...I love reading them.


vadjutka said...

Thanks for elaborating that sentence.

So very true....and I just realized its truth a year ago, or two. The best you can do - both in life and art - is trial, tiral and sometimes error. We are not perfect, in fact far from it, so we should not expect the right answer right away from ourselves in an unknown situation.

The question is - and this is what makes this a difficult question - that how small or big stake you attribute to different areas of life/art: whether you think that X area is more important than Y, so you attribute a bigger stake to area X, meaning that being successful in area X is more important than being successful in area Y, so your expectation towards yourself are higher.

Maybe I wrote this a little complicated, but what I realized, that if you cannot let yourself play (trial-error), it is more likely to feel yourself unsuccessfull in area X - because we are not perfect, and everybody has to learn from his/her own mistakes...(and I would not call them "mistake" at all, I would say stops of a proccess).

I dont know if I could write my thoughts clearly, but nowadays I am practicing this, and it is very similar to your thoughts :-)

vadjutka said...

and I forgot to write this: big hugs!

wishes, true and kind said...

Most of my best creative moments with making quilts has come following a mistake or after running out of a fabric. Sometimes the "solutions" to these problems are the creative touches that others notice and enjoy. Heck -- I notice and enjoy them, too, Thanks for a beautifully written, thoughtful post.

Julia Moore said...

Dear Bee Charmer Colleen, I found you! I met you and your beautiful daughter 2 years ago at an Art and Craft show and sale at the Old Carriage House in Olympia. You bought one of my wool felt purses for your Mom. Do you remember me? I so appreciated your report about the Kaffee/Brandon workshop. I wanted to go but was not feeling well enough to attend. You really brought the essence of the event to me in your blog and thank you so much for that. I am also trying to get a blog up, but so far I am still struggling with the technicalities of typepad. I will let you know when I am "live and in color". Glad to know you are still kicking, I'll surely be tuning in to your blog alot, now that I know you are here! Blessings on you and your dear little family. Love, Julia Moore

Colleen MacDonald said...

Wow, I am so impressed with your responses. Thank-YOU for staying with me on such long posts!

I totally hear what you're saying, Judit!

Julia, I'm so glad that you found me; of course I remember you! Good luck to you with getting your blog set up; I can't wait to visit it when it's completed!

picciolo said...

what a great post, and wonderful advice, I will definatley try to remember this
: )

Victoria said...

Okay, you have now written another best blog post ever! I love this conversation you are having with yourself and sharing it with us. (And it is a message that I needed to hear at this very moment.) Thanks so much for this fabulous dialogue. xo Vic

inaluxe said...

what an awesome read first thing in the morning. I love the "No undoing your work" philosophy... and totally agree with you about everyday life comparisons. You've made my day. I also loved the part about knowing you are trustworthy, and knowing full well what to do. Isn't it funny how we forget the value of such things within ourselves, and isn't it nice how we can re-establish that fact too. Life's great! :) Have fun! xo

Jenni said...

I love this post. "No undoing." I should tattoo it to my palm. Thank you for your insight and beautiful you. This reminds me of a little ritual we have now that we have one in school, every night, Brian asks her, "Did you make any mistakes?" When she says "yes," we all celebrate, "Yea!! We learn when we make mistakes!"