Wednesday, September 23, 2015

It starts with a class

In my quest for my new life (one that would restore my absent creativity and use my hands) and recognizing that I needed structure, I decided to sign up for a fiber arts class. It was a great class: phenomenal teacher, warm and supportive women classmates, very demanding course work. I decided I would Do Art!

It had been a long time since I Did Art. It soon became clear to me that these women were Artists-with-a-capital-A. They’d been doing art for the last 20 years while I’d been doing other things. So the problem with trying new things in your Third Third is that other people have been doing it longer and better so you’d better be prepared for your own mediocrity.

While they’re making masterpieces, you’re making things to put on your refrigerator with a magnet.

Or else, while they’re making lovely felted hats (and you find wool too itchy for a hat), you make a lovely tea cozy. Except that your teapot is a large, 10-cup teapot, so your tea cozy becomes known as the “tea yurt.”
So if my Third Third is going to be about keeping curiosity alive, trying New Things, then I have to let go of needing to feel skillful and accomplished. I have to accept being an apprentice, a beginner. Actually, being a beginner is easy. It’s being an intermediate that’s harder, when mastery proves elusive because it takes those 10,000 Malcolm Gladwell hours. Do we really have 10,000 hours to devote to mastery? Well, we would if we’d decided on The Big Passion, but what if we’re still experimenting around? What if we’re exploring several Lukewarm Passions?

The thing is, it is really electrifying to be around master craftspeople. They have tried so many different materials and techniques. They introduce you to papers and yarns, things named matte medium, gesso, roving. They add illumination to their sculptures, layers to their papers. They drape fabric and plaster over metal frames. And they are so generous with their acquired experience.

Best of all, the studio is open. So you can drop in, work on art, and get to know each other. Taking a class automatically satisfies the “structure” requirement, but if it’s filled with friendly folks, it also moves into the “sense of community” category. And then, miracle of miracles, you might discover – if not The Big Passion – a little, entertaining, enjoyable, creative Little Passion. For me, it was embroidery, the means to make gifts for my friends. Wine glass cozies!

Afterwards, you might re-figure your work space at home to include an art space. You might start hanging out at Michaels and Jo-Ann’s and racing there every time a new batch of coupons shows up with the Sunday paper. After a while, you might end up with the critical mass of art supplies. Other friends may discover Art, too, so old friendships might take a new turn, and then – lo and behold – you try drawing and next thing you know, you start a blog with pictures.

Wow, that was some art class!

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