On Being a Work in Progress

Websites, works of art, and of course artists are all living things. It can be hard to call something finished when they are continuously evolving, but at some point, if we are working people, they must be released into the world. The painting gets called done and offered for sale, a website goes live and opens for business, the blog post gets 'posted'. Even when sometimes, I look at something I have created and the next day think "ACK" or maybe more accurately "oh HELL no". (God bless the edit button). Releasing work into the world requires loosening up that stranglehold of seeking perfection and letting something become visible as it is right now.

Often, part of what I am wrestling with is this gap, as Ira Glass so perfectly talks about here. “Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap...

I dream of creating art that has the impact, skill level and beauty of other artists I see and admire. All of them have been working at this for many years longer than I have. Occasionally it is painful to sit with this gap between my art now and what it might become 2 or 5 or (Heaven willing) 20 years from now. Glass goes on to say that most people who do interesting, creative work go through years of this.

His advice: don't quit. Put yourself on deadlines and finish the work. It is by completing volumes of work that we can narrow the distance, close the gap. Or as I say: make art, study hard, keep it loose, call it done, let it go. Rinse and repeat.

I am getting the hang of this with painting. My work is evolving and a lot of the time I can even look at older pieces with affection and appreciation for how I have grown. Rapid growth spurts, long slow slogs, even ugly paintings are all part of the process. It helps that my creative process involves mess making, deconstructing and then rebuilding! Now I am facing a different gap: learning to build a website. It's been all about developing new technical skills, figuring out how to write copy and blog posts that don't suck, deciding on what I want to put in and what gets left out. It's all the same process (minus the circular sander): develop something, maybe make a mess, tear it up, drink coffee, come back and work to rebuild it. Someday I will look back at these beginning posts and set-ups, and maybe I will flinch a little, but hopefully I will also remember to keep a gentle heart towards my first steps. Build a website, rewrite and revise, send it into the world. Rinse and repeat.

Soon it will be time to release this baby out into the world, imperfect but always evolving. Kind of like me.