Thursday, December 14, 2023

Protecting the Process

As a creative, a lot of my projects go through the "ca ca" stage (not my word- a classmate once used that to describe my project back in art school). I'm at peace with that, especially on those occasions where the finished work turns out better than I even planned. 

I recently shared this picture of me
recreating an old drawing on social
media. A stranger posted laughing 
emojis in the comments. Oookay????
Over the years, I've learned to protect my work and my stream of inspiration. That flow (and my faith in it) is fragile enough without allowing outside influences to compromise it. No one else can see the vision in my head of what I'm trying to manifest creatively. And I do enough questioning the process for me and everyone else in the world. So I must protect the process at all costs! I do that by limiting how and with whom I share my ideas, plans, and projects. 

First and foremost, my sketchbook, notes app, photo albums in my phone- those are good, safe sounding boards for early ideas. Beyond that, I'm blessed to have had and still have people in my life who are supportive and encouraging of my creative work. I don't take this for granted. With that said, it doesn't automatically equate to sharing everything I'm working on with all of them. For some (for my sanity and theirs), it's best to curate what I share and when I share it. If I'm being totally honest, my mom is my most trusted [human] sounding board. And not because she likes all of my ideas. She does not. But because I trust her to tell it like it is, without ripping out my heart and stomping on all my hopes and dreams, lol. I've actually had to push over the years against her initial bias to get her to look at my work or listen to my ideas more objectively. And she's been a huge help (hi Mom!). My other trusty supporter and opinion-giver was my brother. But since he's now my guardian angel, I ask and trust that he's giving me a nudge where necessary. My Dad, lol, is another story. While I know he can appreciate most of what I'm trying to create, he doesn't always get it or understand the how or why of the creative side. BUT he comes through with solid business advice. I mean, he's been a consultant for many years, so... 

I do realize it would hamper my creative growth to be surrounded by "yes men" (people who agree with and praise everything, no matter how crappy it is). But by the same token, I have learned that constructive criticism is not everyone's strength. I have definitely developed a thicker skin over the years, and have learned to take some opinions with a grain of salt. Art school helped with that. Unlike high school, I was no longer the one called "talented artist". I was surrounded by others who were the talented one where they came from. And I was participating in classroom critiques of everyone's work at the end of each assignment (which could be brutal, even when it was someone else's work getting ripped to shreds, figuratively speaking). I experienced an end-of-term portfolio review which I left questioning my entire purpose in life. But (that Renée would never believe what I'm about to type), it helped me. It toughened me up and taught me how to manage criticism. How to compartmentalize it and my feelings about it: helpful, caring, encouraging, pointless, destructive, or you're an ass who doesn't really care about my creative growth.

The point is, I love sharing my process. I do it here on my blog, on my YouTube channel, and other social media. But I do it with care. Care for keeping the delicate process on track, for sharing my train of thought for anyone who might benefit, and for offering inspiration. Since I love being transparent about things like trial and error, sometimes that means sharing a process after the fact, when the project is complete. When I've successfully scaled the peaks of practical execution and lept across shaking sky-bound stepping stones onto the solid ground at the end of the creative quest and my heart's no longer quivering from a mix of excitement and terror because at any minute things could go south. That's sometimes the best time for the story to be told. At The End

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