Monday, May 31, 2010

taking flight

I just finished Kelly Rae Roberts’s book Taking Flight about a week ago. I enjoyed it. Most of the book is about her journey on some level, and about building trust in yourself while learning and building a community. It was a lovely, inspiring read, along the lines of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. Albeit different, Cameron’s book is far more guidebook oriented in style and format, both books are guides of sorts that seek to inspire the budding artist.

KRR’s book is set up in the following order: chapter discussion, question page, artist interview, and then technique skill teaching. Although I didn’t try out the techniques (read through them though) because of time and space (I was packing, moving and unpacking as I read the book), I think the layout is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also quite informative.  The book seeks to combine, on some level, art, spirituality (in the form of artistic inspiration/soul), in a way that leaves you feeling (I believe quite rightly) that art is about the process and journey, not the finished product. She freely gives you permission to play, engage, find your own footing, and allow yourself your imperfections. And that, for me, was the beauty behind the story she presents readers.

Intentionally or otherwise, the author reminded me of the joy that art gave me before I started worrying about being good enough. It reminded me how much I loved art when I was younger. About the contests I won when I was young and the various successes I felt in my art class early in my High School days. But then, well, the dual head beast of “not good enough” and “comparing myself with others” reared its ugly head and that was that. I stopped drawing. I mean, what was the point; I wasn’t ever going to be the next Van Gogh (btw I loved Van Gogh as a teen and devoured Irving Stone’s fictional biography about him, Lust for Life).  
Anyways, something that I really appreciated about her story (back to KRR again) was her discussion, early on in the book, about being a great artist and admitting that she doesn’t see herself as the best artist out there and that’s ok.  In a world full of competition and the appearance of perfection (cause let’s face it, blogland can really feed the insecurities when we compare our perception of someone else’s life on their blog to our own realities), I think that it’s important that budding individuals (in any given sphere) remember that not all things that are great in this world are necessarily the best or most perfect. In fact, it is the imperfections, which capture a moment of truth and/or history that often mark a piece of art as great.  My art may never be great, but if I play my cards right,  I will learn how to let it speak from a place inside of me that is true and has meaning, even if only as gifts for family and friends.
Years of academia drilled in the need for perfection and the sense of failure when I couldn’t live up to the reality of my own imperfections and limits (and quite honestly, my lack of desire to compete). Arts and crafts are teaching me how to find joy in the process again: to love learning something new for the sake of learning it and to master a new skill just because it intrigues me, regardless of the final outcome.

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