Earlier this week, I had dinner with some of my art friends. It was our monthly meeting of dinner, wine and show and tell. One of us works at her art full time. The rest of us juggle full time jobs and children along with the precious time that we carve out to make things. As we were talking, my full time art friend said something that I knew was true but didn’t really understand in a visceral sort of way until recently. Her comment was that no matter how many ideas we have, and how technically able we are, we can’t be our best at what we do unless we practice.
Duh….but you have to understand that in my world, things come easily. I got good grades in school without studying, I was an average musician without practicing and I was good at my various jobs by being able to make quick decisions. Doing things was easy. Practicing was hard. It meant doing something more than once. It meant paying attention to the details of things and it meant being deliberate in the decisions that you made.
So why am I thinking about practice now? I’m not quite sure. I do know that I have started “practicing” my art. This week, I made 3 prints using the same colors and the same design. I tried hard to see them with new eyes. What could be different? How did I manage to make that mark that I really like on that one? Why is this one more appealing than the first one? What is it about the color that I love or hate?
It makes a difference. It makes a big difference.
In printmaking, especially monotypes, I love the surprises or unexpected “gifts” that come as I lay the ink on my plate or pull the print. But, as an artist, I am not just a receptacle for gifts that come by chance. I have a responsibility to myself and my vision to work at my art, make deliberate decisions about what I am doing and after that, then, I can understand and accept the gifts that come through the practice of my work.