|Still a work in progress...|
Some time ago, I sketched with a group at the Naples Preserve. My sketchbook page was not quite complete so I postponed scanning it because I was concerned about the finished product. After all, I am teaching a class and helping others with their artistic challenges! …And then I realized that I wasn’t practicing what I teach, which is all about process, not product.
How did I get caught back up in this thinking? Partly due to coming down with a bad cold and struggling with flu symptoms, I reverted to old patterns. We are all a product of our times; our market-based culture values productivity, efficiency, the final and complete end result. We are taught this at home and in school, and it’s reinforced in the workplace and the media. Sometimes we buy into this.
I used to work in publishing and then marketing, which is either about meeting deadlines (no matter what!) and perception (how do we best present this to sell?). Both are invested in final results, and too often the end justified the means, which is one of the reasons I left those fields. Even as I write this, I’m thinking about the final draft and posting. Yikes! Somewhere along the line, the value of process, craftsmanship, and mindfulness has been shifted to the back of the line.
So what is process anyway? And why is it important?
To me, process encompasses a desire to slow down, investigate, and reflect on deeper levels. It means paying mindful attention to what you are doing in this moment, and letting the ink, or the paint, or the words lead and teach you. This is how our ancestors learned, by opening that door to learning and growing. Mindfulness connects us to many facets of process: sensory discovery, mind and muscle memory, a re-ordering of priorities. We create best when process is our mentor.
We have all seen beautiful formal artworks or photos that stir our admiration but not our hearts. Most of us have experienced an indescribable connection to a quick sketch or candid photo – it has deep meaning for us in some way. It touches something inside. We see this often when children draw.
I worked on a mixed media sketch on toned paper of scrub oak trunks that caught my eye, and while the watercolor dried, I played with a small sheet of Yupo watercolor paper given to me by a friend. Now this required close attention to process! I've never worked with this before, although I've read about it and seen examples of things done on it. Still playing with that one!
After all, it's about process, right?
Daniel Smith watercolor
Albrecht Durer watercolor pencil
Pitt artist pen, Dark Sepia
Strathmore Toned Tan sketch paper 5.5 x 8.5 in.
Yupo watercolor paper
Yupo watercolor paper