I've been thinking about beginning. Being a beginner.
How as we get older our chances to have completely new and foreign experiences in our daily life diminish rapidly.
I recently signed up for my first drawing class. As I sat down at the table and class began I realized that I had no idea how to look at an object and bring it to life on the page. No one had ever asked that of me. My art has always flown out of my brain and onto the canvas without much thought or structure. When it worked it was exhilarating and when it didn't it felt like staring at a brick wall willing it to be a unicorn.
I paint over my canvases countless times for this same reason. The impulse to begin again usually occurs when the image staring back at me appears to be unfinished; even though I never had any idea of what that finished image should be in the first place.
A creative block that took hold of my brain in October of this past year propelled me into signing up for this drawing class and as I was unpacking my pencils and opening my sketchbook, I was hit by a strong wave of, 'what did I get myself into?'
As class began and we went over the types of pencils, degrees of shading, where to place marks on the page to make the 2D appear 3D- a trick of the eye; I was surprised to see spheres take shape before my eyes. It was a crude drawing but it was amazing to see the still life that I was studying manifest itself in duplicate on the page. There's something magical about witnessing the conversation that needs to happen between your eyes, brain, and hands.
The better we get at something, the higher our expectations rise. What was once an opening is now a measurable skill. What was once magic becomes something tangible that we can judge ourselves against.
On the flip side- starting something new, while exciting, is also a slog. It can feel a lot like trekking through mud with flip flops on. At times you feel so ill equipped that you don't know how you'll ever get to where you want to be but what comes with that uncertainty is a degree of forced concentration and attention to detail that isn't synonymous with expertise. It feels a lot more like work and that level of effort doesn't guarantee perfection. In fact, being a novice ensures that you won't reach a perfect end state- regardless of how hard you work.
In the midst of creation there is always the voice driving you to be the best or better or even good. That voice will never completely go away. In some ways, I think that's what humanizes us. That drive. As I was sketching at my table in the living room last night, that voice piped up and I responded with 'what a gift to be not good and to be better for it'.