When beginning something new a great deal of time can be spent in what is known as the ‘learning curve’. Have you ever had one of those name tags, in a new job, pinned to your chest spelling out “Your Name”, underlined with, “IN TRAINING”? I have experienced this kind of employee humiliation. It just made the training process worse, forcing me to connect with insecurities rather than confidence. It’s as if the name badge makes you make more mistakes because of the label and what it does to self-confidence.
The same can happen in crafting circles where those with status can’t help but introduce you to their artsy friends as “The Newbie”. Oh how I loathe labels. In my mind it is far better to approach a newness to something, anything really, armed with past skill-sets and just jump right in and have fun. We all have backgrounds that brought us to the new learning in the first place. We just want to learn more, building upon previously gained knowledge.
Learning from others can be a great way to embark on something new, if the environment is positive. But more often than not when the word “ART” is mentioned all the labels, levels, and number of years practised are slung around the room and I want to find the nearest exit, fast. I want the safety of my little craft room where I can be free to experiment and learn at my own pace. In groups I become overwhelmed emotionally and cannot connect to art-making on any level. I can create but I never feel satisfied with the outcome. I need to be in solitude with my feelings and have space to reflect on emotions, as I create.
Some groups of crafters/artists can be competitive, and impatient with new learners. For this reason I have spent much of my learning in solitude. I love solitude and art. I crave it. But oh the mistakes I’ve made, and the learning has been oh so slow. Being self-taught can have its down-side.
On the flip side, working on my own gave me the chance to connect to my thoughts, feelings, and emotions, during the creative process. I found a safe place inside where I am spontaneous and free and I can honestly state I feel joy and accomplishment in everything I create, even first attempts. Like a child, I stand back and marvel in what my imagination has brought forward. Every piece, no matter how far back to the beginning of my creative journey I go, I still feel happiness in what I accomplished.
What I have learned about mistakes is: there hasn’t been one mistake made, when combined with the right approach of - ‘How can I solve this problem?’- that improved my project by one hundred and fifty percent.
Mistakes, upon reflection, teach me patience and tell me to slow down. Mistakes help me learn problem-solving skills in addition to building a technical skill-set. Mistakes can show me I am determined and I have what it takes to get to the finish line. Mistakes make me a better person and artist. Mistakes are natural in the learning process. Oddly, mistakes are indicators to what needs practising in order to learn. Mistakes can eventually lead me to increased learning if I embrace them as part of the process. Mistakes create a longing within me to return to creativity with a new found confidence, to try again. Mistakes make me pay attention and trust my learning until the learning becomes knowing. Mistakes show me how to let go and experiment with spontaneity; eventually trusting my abilities. Mistakes are a necessary teacher each and every time I practise at anything.