For many years I was a project manager. This is not something that ever leaves you. It seeps into your normal life. Like that year you used MS Project to make a Gantt Chart of Thanksgiving dinner tasks (true story) or when your 6 month art project has gone on 9 months you start thinking, “It’s time for a review!” Talk about successes and failures, lessons learned, and next steps.
(Join in! Use the comments section of the blog to provide feedback. What topics should I have covered? Or left out? Any art challenges you think I should take on? If you are new to the blog, you can see how it began by going here.)
WHAT WENT WELL:
It was easier than I thought: My original project plan and editorial calendar was loaded with topics designed to explore my shortcomings and fears around creating art. I wanted to get to the bottom of it no matter how painful, messy, or embarrassing it was. And that worked. I did explore, and drudged up some painful memories, and discovered self-protecting behaviors that really didn’t serve me anymore. But it was remarkably easy to let that shit go once I uncovered it. Like ice melting on a hot day.
I missed my deadline: For those of you also in the project management biz you may be thinking, wait, this is a good thing? Yes, I missed my deadline but I have gotten so much out of this project that it naturally extended on its own and I was happy to let it. It is only now that I am feeling the need to evaluate where I am and where I want to go. I’ve had a good run.
I over delivered: I set out to do two paintings in 6 months. I have done 8 paintings and 17 drawings in a little over 8 months. I’m working on something almost every day. This would have been unheard of a year ago.
WHAT DIDN’T GO WELL:
I wasn’t consistent: I planned what content I thought I’d cover each month but I didn’t plan for a day of the week to post or a consistent frequency. I let time slip between posts where I shouldn’t have and at times lost traction for myself and maybe some of those reading.
I didn’t stick to my project plan: I didn’t stick to my plan mostly because I created a lot more art than I had set out to. That’s a good thing, but there were topics and one painting that I didn’t do because I didn’t want to. I avoided them. Instead of pushing through my resistance and learning what was to be learned, I made different art. This project isn’t just about producing art, it’s about figuring out how to sustain producing it. I designed what I would cover specifically to be provoking, not completing it was a cop out.
WHAT I LEARNED:
Art is fun: Remove my ego and any worrying over success or failure and presto! Good times!
I’m talented: Wow, that’s a scary sentence to write and put on the internet. We’ll see if it makes the final draft of this post. I’m not saying that I’m <insert your favorite artist’s name here> but I have some strengths and some talents. More importantly, I’ve learned, it’s okay for me to think that about myself regardless of whether or not you do.
It is okay to let go of mistakes: As I talked about in the intro to this project, there are many things I wish I would have done differently as a teen and young adult. I may not have cornered the market on bad teenage behaviors but I made some bad choices, was self-centered, and fucked up a bit. I got my act together, and have had a good run at being a good person for a couple of decades now. For some reason though, it is hard for me to let go of those early mistakes as I stumbled towards adulthood. This project forced me to think about those years.
Thinking about that time opened up and helped heal a lot of old wounds. It was more personal than I thought it would be, things not about art at all came up. But it was as if I had all these things tangled together and I had to undo one side to get to the other. This was crucial for my artwork because of how much it had to do with my confidence and willingness to take risks. I think I was so terrified of messing up again that it prevented me from trying at all. Forgiving failure, putting it in perspective, has given me a sense of freedom.
Create the painting I was avoiding: The reason I didn’t do it (at least partly) was that the painting reminds me of my mother who passed away in 2006. I was trying to get out of it because of all the other paintings I did instead. “See! I made 5 extra paintings so I don’t have to make that one!” It is pretty clear, even as I was working that angle that I just need to suck it up and do what I said I would.
Project phase two, developing a body of work: After the next painting is complete, I’ll be switching gears a bit. I’ll be focused on developing a body of work large enough and cohesive enough to get feedback on. I’ll be chronicling this journey on the blog. Writing about what I’m working on, what comes up along the way, and pass along anything I learn that may be useful to others. My hope is that you’ll keep reading and that in some way it helps you create art too.