Some Things I’ve Learned That May Or May Not Be True

Way back in February, I posted a few lessons I’ve learned as a self-taught artist. I thought I’d make a regular thing of it so when I’m a wizened granny I can look back on these posts and laugh incontinently at how young and dumb I was. Here is my hard-earned wisdom, gained betwixt the months of February and May:

  • Mistakes and difficulties are the birthplaces of new creative techniques. The veracity of this statement is probably more a testament to the breadth of my mistakes and difficulties than anything else.– Limited palettes are FUN! Upon learning about limited palettes I was horrified at the sacrifice of all of those beautiful and forever-to-be-neglected colours. I’ve since come to appreciate the harmony a limited palette will imbue in a piece.
  • The more clarity I gain about who I am, the more accepting I am of my art and the way I make it. Depending on the genre of art one moves in, there are implicit value statements about what type of art is worthy and which processes are best. In the past, when I’ve found myself chafing against these values I’ve questioned if I’m making art the “right way” or if I should be making art at all. The particular genre I’m familiar with is the mixed media trend, which values messiness and working intuitively. Contrary to these values, it is natural for me to decide what is the best way of doing a thing and then consistently do it that way. I dislike to have things remain undecided. Neither orientation is “better” or more “artistic”, they just result in different types of art, which will in turn appeal to different types of people.

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How about you? Do you struggle to reconcile what you think you should do with what you actually do, and what you naturally tend to do?

7 Comments Some Things I’ve Learned That May Or May Not Be True

  1. Margaret Tyson

    I reckon learning to be retired is much like the process you describe. There’s an empty space in one’s life to make decisions about, and a fair number of “shoulds” to examine. Many retired people fill their lives with activities that might as well be work: tennis on Monday, Spanish lessons on Tuesday. Busy-ness is highly regarded in our society! My ordered, timetabled life as a teacher required me to drop the fantastic discussion with Year 9 at the ring of a bell and move to a precise fifty minute lesson on the use of apostrophes. The rhythms of my life was preordained, minute by minute, day by day and month by month. So one would predict that my retired life would have similar characteristics. But it doesn’t. It has no perceptible rhythms at all. People smile at me and say, “I’ll bet you’re busier than ever.” No doubt they picture the super-organised, bustling teacher that I used to be now sublimating all that energy in some post-work frenzy of achievement. But I’m not busy. I’m very un-busy. I find that I am really good at just being in the moment, like the Taoist reed that bends with the river flow. I have allowed myself to discover and explore new passions with surprising abandon, and then, just as freely, to discard them again. Who’d have thunk it?

    1. Katherine

      I guess what we’ve done with our lives is a lot like retirement also. What you said here: “There’s an empty space in one’s life to make decisions about, and a fair number of “shoulds” to examine”, definitely applies to our lifestyle re-design. I’ve always admired people for whom questioning “shoulds” seems to be their natural state. They seem to move in the world in a little bubble of clarity. We’ve both struggled with shrugging off the “busyness” value. At times, we’ve worried if we’re working enough or being productive enough. We’re getting better at taking days off but I will always think about what I “should” be doing whilst we’re deciding whether to or not.

      Are you familiar with Myers Briggs at all? It’s given me an excellent framework for understanding my own preferences and how they interface with external “shoulds”.

  2. Margaret Tyson

    Yes, I do remember doing Myers Briggs and other personality analyses. It’s very telling though, that I examined the results entirely in relation to the work-me. I can remember learning for example that I am exactly suited to middle management (which is where I spent the last fifteen years of my job). But what it said about the rest of my life… well, “what rest of my life” would have been the answer at the time. Hmmm, I was very obsessive, I suspect. Hmmm, I am a bit now too.

  3. Margaret Tyson

    I found my Myers Briggs result:

    ISTJ Quiet, serious, earn success by thoroughness and dependability. Practical, matter-of-fact, realistic, and responsible. Decide logically what should be done and work toward it steadily, regardless of distractions. Take pleasure in making everything orderly and organized – their work, their home, their life. Value traditions and loyalty.

    Reads a little like a horoscope profile. I’m not sure it offers me much insight. What’s yours?

  4. Nicole

    I just wanted to throw out there that I love that painting. I think it’s just so beautiful. And I am so excited about the things which you learned.

    1. Katherine

      Nicole, thank you! I’m pretty happy with the painting (although I really struggled to take a decent photo of it so I’m glad you still like it). This year has been full of little revolutions with Brené’s e-course and then re-discovering Myers-Briggs through Kath (who also did the e-course). It’s amazing how empowering it is to simply know your own nature and accept it!


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