Before every workshop I teach, I have students read a blog I did some time ago called the 14 Ways To Get The Most Out Of A Workshop. I ask each participant to choose one of the points that they know will be a struggle for them. At my most recent workshop (in Gibsons, BC, Canada), the point that resonated with many students was #5: focus on process
This concept of focusing on process not outcome is crucial not just in workshops but whenever we are art-making. Undeniably, it’s an effort to do this. We are judged by the external world on our results, not on our process. And we often judge ourselves that way too.
During a demonstration at the workshop, even when I knew better, there was a wee inner voice saying, “I hope this painting turns out well.” As a seasoned workshop instructor with many years of painting experience, with entry into juried shows, with awards, there’s still a deep-seated desire for the results of my painting time to be something worthy of the effort.
If we focus only on how the result will look, we may get so anxious about painting that we never even start it. Our fears and doubts can stall us and so we give up before we even begin. We want to avoid the pain of seeing a failed piece. We think: better not to do anything at all than end up with some junky result. And so, in the end, we lose: we give up on our creative impulse by letting our ego rule us. If we went about our lives like that, we wouldn’t accomplish anything! So instead I want to encourage you to focus on process, not
Let’s put our full attention on the process of making art. Let’s be intentional about releasing our need to have a successful outcome. With the focus on process rather than outcome, we’re free to experiment, to make new marks, to try new colour combinations, to explore new materials. This is how we move forward and grow as artists. Try new things, learn new stuff, evolve as an artist!
Also, isn’t it in the process of art-making where we find our ultimate joy? Yet if we’re all tied up in knots about what the end result will look like, we can’t revel in that pleasure.
So let go and focus on the process of painting. Make one mark, respond to it, then another and so on until a full-blown painting emerges. Step-by-step the result of our mark-making emerges, whatever that outcome may be. And no matter what it looks like, we’ve had the deep satisfaction of doing, of painting, of revealing our creative selves and our response to the world.
I’m so proud of my students for making the commitment to focus on process not outcome during the Gibson’s Bold and Fearless Colour workshop! Here are some of their results.
Sooo stop worrying about what the painting will look like in the end and just PAINT!
That’s it for this time. I’d love to know your thoughts and reactions to this idea.
Until next time!