I often talk about how great it is if you can let go of the outcome when creating art, but what does that actually mean and how do you do it?
Let’s start with the flipside of letting go: being attached to the outcome. With this comes a feeling of pressure. For example wanting to create pretty or aesthetically pleasing art, creating something that will make you feel good about yourself, or creating in order to get loads of likes & comments (i.e. to feel loved and accepted).
Or even when you take that away, there’s still the issue of how you look at your own work. When you are attached to the outcome there is pressure, whether it comes from yourself or from outside.
At a certain point in my journey I noticed this pressure and realised what it was doing to my process. Instead of enjoying this wonderful art time that I was making for myself (and you’ll agree that in our busy lives, the time you make for art is precious and certainly not a given!), I was feeling icky about it. I might have created paintings I liked or felt good about, but at the same time I was so focussed on creating a certain outcome that I wasn’t able to enjoy the actual creation process.
And when you’re not enjoying the process, why bother? If you have a hobby (something you specifically do because you want to enjoy yourself) and you find yourself not enjoying yourself, then you have to change something. Once I started pondering on that I had the insight that it was about enjoying the process. And how could I enjoy the process? The most important step was to not worry so much about what the result would be.
It’s definitely not easy and it’s a journey, rather than something you simply ‘decide’ and put into practice forever more. Since my discovery I have started incorporating this into my classes. My work and my classes are never about becoming the greatest artist or mastering a certain technique. Rather, I try to help you to embrace the process and let go of the outcome.
When people tell me they’ve enjoyed a class of mine that they’ve taken, it’s rarely about whether they liked the artwork they created. The focus is usually about the process or how it made them feel.
I’ve realised that often people haven’t really discovered yet that there is something additional that you can add to the process. When you let go of the outcome, you can still make art that is satisfying as an end result, but there are also these things you can add so it becomes more transformative.
So it becomes more about self-expression, or self-discovery, or about switching off, or processing your feelings, or journaling something that happened to you that you need to work through (a therapy like process). When you focus only on the outcome, that stands in the way of all of those things. Being conscious of it allows you to be more deliberate in your purpose for doing art. You can start examining what the things are that trip you up, and what those things are that makes it less fun for you.
What my hope and wish is for you that you can bring in a bit of that consciousness that allows you to let go of the outcome and enjoy the process. So at the end of your art session you’ve had a nourishing journey, rather than just a pretty piece to show for it.
So my question and challenge to you is: What can you do in your process, next time you sit down to make art, to focus a little bit less on the outcome?
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