Making art without attachment

Mixed media painting created in the online class Lifebook 2014

There is an art show that takes place annually a few hundred metres from my house. A while ago I decided I would like to submit something to that show one day. Since then I have eagerly enrolled in many an online class and done a lot of work in my art journals and sketchbooks. But something happens when I sit down to a separate piece of good quality paper or a new canvas. The pressure of trying to produce something I might be able to submit to a formal art show is paralysing. Being too attached to the outcome suffocates the creative process. Luckily I got a glimpse of the alternative in a recent Lifebook 2014 lesson. I really enjoyed this particular lesson video, but to be perfectly honest, the style of the teacher's finished piece didn't resonate with me. This turned out to be the biggest gift of the lesson. It meant that I could take the prompts, the ethos, the techniques from the lesson but let my own artwork unfold with no attachment to or expectations of the finished product. As a result I found the process delightful, and absorbing. I even ended up with something I really liked. I have learned a lot from teachers whose finished pieces seem to sing to me. But somehow, if you really love what they have done, your own copy is quite likely going to be a bit of a disappointment. Now I understand just how much can be gained from a teacher whose style is quite different from your own. If you are not trying to emulate a particular style you are open to a whole world of possibilities. And if you don't start out with a vision of your finished work, you have removed a criterion by which to judge (and therefore disappoint) yourself. I am learning to create for the joy of it, not for the finished product, and that in art as in life, everyone has something to teach me.