The Art of Letting Go


The things we learn at art school, that aren’t really art…

I’ve learnt how to let go.

I started out with very fixed thinking mentality. I made myself decide what the finished result would look like as a starting point. Then trying to find a path to get from point A (nothing) to point Z (end product). It was hugely frustrating. Not just for me –  I could see it in the face of my tutors too. But I didn’t understand why.

I spent so many years drifty doodling about aimlessly, I had no idea I could choose my direction and just go off n see where I got to.

Stubbornly resistant to the organic process – sketching, researching, dabbling, documenting and recording, experimenting, trial and error, figuring out – I wanted to race to the finish line and then jump into the next thing. Inner kid was at the wheel, and she travels at one speed only – giddyingly fast! Although she brings the very necessary vitality and exuberance, she doesn’t do planning or calm. And in order to get the best results I (we) could, these elements cannot be mutually exclusive.

I look back at early projects and think: what a bizarre way of going about things! (but isn’t that a life thing too?)

I believe we create best within a set of parameters. Told you can only have 3 colours for your painting,  3 notes for your tune, 3 minutes for your idea … set a restriction, and it forces the imagination swell to fill the limits. When you don’t have access to everything in the toy box, you can really set about making the best of what you’ve got.

While I already knew this, my first ‘free choice’ projects at college freaked the bejeebus out of me. The resulting confusion made me panic my own parameters into place. So much so, in the freedom of limitless choicefulness I’d literally hear myself think: Right, so it can be anything??? Ok………<eek> …….. Let’s make it 1.5 metres high, made of fabric, and green. I don’t know what it’s going to be, or why, or anything else. But at least I’ve got some clue what it’s going to look like. And then steadfastly refuse to budge from this plan.

And then reverse engineer my ideas from there.

Top tip, folks: Don’t do it this way!

pin-tail-on-donkeyIn the absence of any solid grounding I had to pin meanings on to the finished article, blindly, like the tail on a donkey.  It didn’t hold up, there was no integrity: just a decorative thing that isn’t an expression of anything.

The whole process was a lot harder than it needed to be, and it didn’t produce good results. I backed myself into a corner and I wasn’t going to let myself out of it for fear of … fear of… fear of the great abyss of everything that’s outside my self imposed boundary,  which is too overwhelming to consider.

So sometimes you gotta follow a route to its ultimate destination before accepting the truth of it, turning round, and going someplace else. Destination disappointment (could’ve done better). And eventually, several disappointments later, I did.

I’ll show you where some of these routes led next…

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