Each time you create with your materials they offer you a lesson, some minor, some life changing. But often you don’t quite recognize or remain open to what your medium is teaching you due to a variety of factors such as frustration, inconsistency, impatience, perfectionism, etc. And that is absolutely normal! Because who needs a ‘lesson’ in the middle of a painting session.
Over the years, I’ve come to understand and appreciate the lessons my medium is teaching me. Of course it took a while to get to that point. Some lessons were welcomed but most were not and still are not received favourably!
“Every master knows that the material teaches the artist.” — Ilya Ehrenburg
6 Lessons Your Medium is Teaching You
Lesson 1 – Everything Won’t Be a Masterpiece
My medium has taught me that not every piece is set out to be a masterpiece. Some of our creations will have little to no monetary value, but that is because they serve a higher purpose. Often the pieces we struggle with, become frustrated with and those that we deem to be unsuccessful serve to teach a lesson…
It is the pieces where we make a million mistakes that may ultimately teach us a lesson on form, colour, composition, patience, material usage etc. We go through these experiences in order to make our best work and reach our potential, for it is these lessons that enable us to later down create the masterpieces.
Lesson 2 – Patience Is Mandatory
Secondly, pastels have taught me that patience is a necessity whether I wish to accept it or not. It has taken YEARS to understand my medium and use it in a way that produces the results I desire. Other mediums are no different. It takes time to master them.
In addition, there this thing I call “The Gap” (no not the clothing store!). I’m referring to the gap between where you are now and where you want to be with your artistic ability. And it is this gap that takes years to close. Thus, it’s important to understand and appreciate that there may be a long road ahead, but the journey is worth it. Remain patient in your craft.
Lesson 3 – Gratitude Keeps You in The Game
My medium has also taught me the importance of gratitude. Being appreciative of all that I have learned and how far I’ve come is far more important than focusing on what I haven’t done and all that I don’t yet understand. When we focus on our accomplishments and successes, we are more inclined to have a positive outlook on our creative work, even when challenges arise.
Lesson 4 – Comparison is a Thief
My medium has taught me that comparison is the thief of all joy! And social media is a huge factor here. Often we see the work of others and perhaps the acclaim they receive. In an effort to feel and experience some of that success, we may begin mimicking that artist’s style. But it’s proven that if you are not true to yourself, in an effort to be more like another, it still won’t be what you desire it to be… because it won’t be authentic… and in the process you devalue yourself.
Lesson 5 – Stop Fighting What You Can’t Change, Take Risks!
My medium has taught me that no matter how much I fight against it, I can not change it. Instead of focusing on and becoming frustrated with your medium’s limitations, I encourage you to learn new applications, new ways of combining your medium with others etc. Often, we spend so much time trying to get a medium to behave in a particular way that we don’t discover a multitude of other applications that are waiting to be harnessed.
Lesson 6 – Sensitivity is a Gift not a Curse
Last but least, I have often felt that I was more sensitive than those around me, more affected than the average person by my environment and the energy of those with whom I share space. Sensitivity is a trait common to many artists, but often it is one that we are be ridiculed for. On the contrary, I believe sensitivity is a gift! It is a necessity which enables us to create the work that we do. Our sensitivity allow us remain highly in tune with the world around us heightening our intuition. There’s something magical that happens when and artists can transcribe through their medium, a feeling and/or an experience. Allow your medium to teach you the value of sensitivity.
No matter where you are in your artistic journey, and no matter what challenges and frustrations you may feel when producing your work, remember that the lessons keep you on your path to success, no matter how daunting they may feel.