Studio Update | January 30, 2023

   This month most people spend time with new goals and resolutions. Our family typically doesn't celebrate New Years Eve, I really never have even when I was young. Having said that, I have always been goal orientated and spend time planning, searching, and learning new skills to frame the upcoming year. An important part of that is reflection. There was a time in my life where, "don't look back" was the mantra. I have come to believe that is not quite right because we can learn a bunch from looking back, debriefing each event and analyzing what we did well and what we can do better.

   This week the image off the easel was inspired by looking back. A friend and parent of one of my student athletes put a short post on FB of his son playing the family piano on Christmas break while he was home from college. I remember the first time I heard this gifted student athlete play when we were at a Cross Country team dinner. He was in 7th grade at the time, he sat down and played for an hour while we were eating. He played really advanced music all from memory. When I watched the short FB video this week that his father made it kicked me back to that memory and inspired the painting and the beginning of a short video.

   The final image is still not complete. There have been several attempts and several failures so far so the image here is WIP. The image was created, then attached to an AR program so that when you point your phone toward the image the video composite with his music begins to play. The painting kind of works like a QR code of sorts. I will include the augmented reality video next week. Next, I want to dive into taking time to reflect. 

   Ones creative journey is sacred, and in my personal opinion partly spiritual. Afterall, God is the ultimate Creator. I believe our creative ideas are a collaboration with God as he is the one who gifts them to us. Reflection is a vital part of growing in our creative practice. One way that I inadvertently squelch growth in my practice is by just blasting through projects and not taking the time to "live in the moment" and "rest" in the accomplishment of learning something new, or simply just finishing a new piece or project. It is typically, "what's next?" without really spending time for rest, reflection and refine. Those are the 3R's in my studio practice and I use them in training athletes as well. Any sports physiologist will tell you the most growth and improvement comes in the recovery phase. I think that is true for artist as well. Taking time to "debrief" during recovery pays big benefits. You can gain insight and continue to move forward. I may not do it for each painting but certainly at the end of each series and always if I am trying to work out a problem or a new technique. What did we learn? How did we challenge ourselves? How did we GROW or not? What didn't work or was a struggle?

Here are 5 Ways to Review and Recognize your growth. 

1. Date all your work – including sketches or doodles. By doing this you are creating a chronological journey of your work. It is always wonderful to look back and see how you have grown. 

2. Reflect & Write – After you complete a piece of work, take a minute to debrief the making process and journal about the experience. What went well? What bombed? How did you overcome or solve problems? What would you change in the process next time? For me I find that the mechanical process of journaling cements the positive growth and learning as well as providing a witness to my experience. 

3. Photograph and/or Scan - all of your work as you move along. With the date and a scan you can create a visual journal/timeline. Put these in a folder on your desktop. Go back at the end of the year and spend time in review with the journal as well. It is somewhat like the growth chart on the wall recording my kids height when they were young. 

4. Create a kuddos box or Jar – I use a decorated shoe box that I drop a small piece of paper in (with a date) when I complete a project or finish a sketch or anything that feels like an accomplishment (these can be smaller things too!) Write down your kuddos and put it in the box/jar. At the end of the year, you can go back through and celebrate all you have achieved in your creative journey!

5. Hang your work up – Fill your home and workspace with your own artwork. This is an amazing act of self-love and celebration. Honor your creations by letting them shine! As you grow, you can replace or trade out pieces.

"In any given moment, we have two options: to step forward into growth or backward into safety."