I find the process of creating a piece of art similar to that of rearing children.
There is of course, the beginning incubation period, where the mind is pregnant with some sort of concept or idea. We wait patiently, coming to realize it isn’t something to be forced; but will only happen when ready. Then, the timing for its official birth takes place. Its painful, committal, uncertain, but love trumps the struggle, particularly when the end product is in sight.
Then, comes the early childhood stage. When a piece is just beginning to discover and grow in form. The potential of it still undetermined, but the possibilities endless. We spend hours bending over its developing form; nurturing, feeding, caring, and even losing sleep as we do our human best to keep its creation alive and thriving. These works make demands we don’t feel adequate to fulfill, but we press on in discipline and passion. Lots of trial and error seems to take place, and moments of frustration when it is determined best to step away briefly and take a deep breath. Because, if we are honest, sometimes we just don’t know what to do with them. They take so much energy to nurture and prod along, sometimes behaving as we like (making us proud), sometimes not (keeping us humble). We learn to pick our battles and take the time to celebrate the milestones.
As its maturation continues, there is that unavoidable raw and awkward phase of adolescence. This stage is defined by physical changes and transition. It is that point in time when nothing we do as an art parent seems to be right or appreciated. The artwork just seems so needy and unsure of what it is. Overwhelmed by doubt and insecurity, it has yet to find its voice, let alone a focal point. Rather than argue our way through, we realize it is a natural part of the process and decide to be more creative in our approach and problem solving. Perhaps, we even hit our knees a little harder in prayer for guidance and clear direction. As an art parent, we worry about each piece being understood and accepted for what it is, imperfections and all. Not excluding the very real concern of their ability to make friends and find their way in this world on their own eventually.
But, there comes the day…when you and I have to put the paintbrush down, even though it just doesn’t feel quite ready yet. Rather than overworking and smothering it with our good intentions, we have to accept that it has come of age and needs to be released in order to reach its fullest potential. We carefully pack them up and drop them off (because they still can’t drive), hoping they will not only be appreciated, cared for, and understood; but that they will be agents of influence. We hope they make friends (or patrons) and find an independent existence benefiting those around them and their community. If they contribute to society and are able to successfully make a living on their own, all the better. But, as an art parent, it is never easy to wave them off. We will always feel a deep connection and sense of responsibility. Yet, we know and trust that there is purpose in our learning to live apart from each other. We have created them to have their own unique voice and divine story to tell.
Thus, they are sent out in hope of long life, aging gracefully, and outliving us.