I did the list. In fact, I am still doing the list as more categories and subdivisions keep popping up. It was easy to list skills I have and enjoy, although I found it a bit harder to dredge up those that I have acquired but have not kept in use because they were less than intriguing at the time. However, rather like Pandora’s box once opened, even those are coming back to haunt me! And of course, some of them might be useful now—and intriguing—on particular projects, so it is good to remind myself that I do know how to do lots of things, or at least know enough to get started getting better at them, if I decide to do so.
As for perfection, I’m not sure that this is what I am striving for in my work. More appropriate for me is something a drawing teacher whose workshops I have taken, Richard Box, discusses: completion. He suggests that a drawing can be said to be “complete” at several stages: it may,for example, be rather pale, but can be “complete” at this stage if the tones, shadows, etc., are in balance,in harmony. My take on this approach is a piece of work is complete when its parts are in balance, the content and work are in harmony, and I can truthfully say that this is the best I can do with this piece at this time. I don’t think I have ever made a perfect thing, but I have made a number which by these criteria were complete. That is enough for me.
The line in the essay which really struck home was the first one: “ Life is short and studio time is finite.” On its face, the statement is obvious and obviously true. But it stopped me in my tracks. I think this may be the central issue in my problem with finding—actually, creating and choosing—a focus. Since my bout with a nasty form of cancer just as I retired, I have not really believed I have time—at least not any I can count on. Of course, that is true of everyone all the time, but I think many people who have faced mortality directly have this sense burned into their nerve endings. Its not entirely a bad thing, either. I just hadn’t thought of how that sense might be impeding studio work. Time to reframe this in a positive light, as a spur rather than hindrance, as in the week’s essay.
Thanks for the insight.