In order to create something new, learn something new. If creation is the process of bringing something new into the universe, then there must by definition be certain elements, either in the physical work, or in the creative process, that are new. To introduce elements we have not used before into our work, or to approach our work in some untried way inevitably requires some learning.
This marriage of learning with creation speaks, to some, of the artist’s partnership with a Higher Power. It is the artist’s relationship with the Creator which ultimately makes his own process of creation possible. That partnering relationship is one of teacher and student. G-d needs to impart knowledge. The artist needs to learn. How does that play out? Usually not in the form of mystical revelation. Rather, the initial stages of our creative process direct us to a requisite point of learning.
Through our process of conceiving a project, we become aware (are made to become aware) of the need to pick up some new skill or technique, to comprehend some new concept, to broaden or deepen our toolbox and our palette. For having imagined the new work, we now think about the project’s execution. What steps must we take to get from our concept to a concrete expression of that concept? It is generally at this point that we must take stock of our current skill sets and knowledge, and confront the reality of falling short. This is a good thing. This is our moment of opportunity for artistic growth. We admit what is currently out of our reach. Then we figure out how to reach it – how to learn what we must to proceed with our work.
The devil of resistance takes the stage now, for there is some uncomfortable work to do – fraught with the likelihood of initial failure and feelings of total stupidity. We initially resist the need to buckle down to learning. We wait for readiness. There is an ancient Chinese proverb: “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” That readiness begins for us when the motivation to move forward with our work grows strong enough. This happens eventually, despite our best efforts at procrastination. As we settle into our working frame of mind, we let the cares and concerns of the outside world slip away. We tune into the inner voice. We get honest with ourselves. In this state of mind, we can finally bite the bullet and wade through the tutorial, or call somebody for the needed lesson.
Having properly armed ourselves with new learning, we can move forward confidently in our creative process.
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