Trusting the process, even if you feel like you don’t have one

My process is all over the map.  Sometimes I have clear ideas about a project and find it easy to gather materials and start working.  Other times I just need to work and the initial stages are a time of random exploring.  I find that art making at times can be a special brand of torture.  I have to force myself to keep going.  But when the flow sets in-ah, now that is heaven.  I rarely get from Point A to Point B in an orderly and relaxed manner.  There are fits and starts, curses and probably too many breaks taken.

My typical self-dialogue goes like this:  Hmm.  I should make some art.  I don’t really feel like it and I don’t have any ideas but I should do it.  I have to stop shoulding myself.  Just get out some materials.  Oh, I really don’t feel like doing this.  Just get out some stuff and mess around.  Make a mark, any mark will do.  I have to have something to work against, make a mark already.  Ooo, that looks pretty cool, now we’re cooking.  What if I smear that?  What if I add a watercolor wash?  Time to add some layers.  I am going to scratch away at that area and see what’s underneath.  Ok, I have worked for a while, time to look at it from across the room.  Now I am going to look at it from every angle and see what else it needs.  Does the composition hold up when I look at it upside down?  I am going to walk away from it for a little while and come back with fresh eyes.  Wow, it is really starting to click.  What if I…..?  Oh my gosh, wow, I love it!  (I am now flooded with euphoria).

Now this is if the process goes well.  Sometimes the self-dialogue consists of statements like “this is crap.”  This logically leads to bouts of self-recrimination and the serious belief that if my art is crap, I must be crap too.  This is not a fun train to be on.  If you find yourself on it, get off immediately.  Here is where the beauty of the art making process comes in.  Stay with the feeling, stay with the art.  Keep going and find a way to transform it.  Do something radical to the piece.  You hate it anyway so you really can’t mess it up, right?  Trust that it will work itself out, this is what it means to trust the process.

Pay attention to your own self-dialogue about art making.  Are you defeating yourself with it before you ever get into the studio?  Does it fuel your work in a positive way?  How can you transform your dialogue so that is a source of energy and ideas instead of self-doubt and recriminations?

Trust the process.  Trust that you have one, whether you think you do or not.  Trust that everything will work out in the end.  Lean into your fears and see what images emerge.


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