Thursday, January 24, 2013

Try Something!

Hello again. If you read my earlier post this month, you know my theme for the year is "try." Well, what have I tried in the last three weeks? I had a trying time filling out a federal form. And I tried to keep warm during very cold weather for this part of West Texas. But that's not what I'm really looking at when I think of trying something. Making a different type of paper flower or trying a new art journal technique is more what I have in mind. 

As I looked at the positive and negative forms of the words, I remembered a very trying time long ago as I tried something new. Now, those of you that know me, know that I can do some very intricate work; I knit lace, I cross-stitch on 22-count cloth, I work with seed beads. Years ago, though, I could not tie my shoes.

Seriously, my poor mother spent hours trying to teach me and it just wasn't going to happen. It made absolutely no sense to me. Now, I know it must have been very frustrating to my mother. This was in the days before Velcro fasteners and I wore corrective shoes that tied. I was seven years and could not tie my shoes.

One weekend, I visited my cousins and spent the night there. The next morning, my Aunt Ann showed me a  new way to tie my shoes. I'm sure she had to show me several times but I left there knowing how to tie my shoes. What was the difference between her method and my mother's? I have no idea. There was no silliness about rabbit ears or anything like that. Whatever it was it worked. 

What I learned from that encounter, although I certainly couldn't articulate it at the time, is that sometimes if you are having a hard time learning something, maybe it's not your lack of talent or it's not the thing for you. Maybe it's the teacher. I learned many things from my mother but tying my shoes was not one of them.   

Here's the other thing to be aware of. Sometimes, you just need to keep trying. Conventional wisdom relates that one needs 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. Even experts can improve. How? Go visit your Aunt Ann. Read a new book about your subject area. If you're the author of the number one ranked book in your field, read the second. In this wonderful era of the Internet, make a point to see what else is out there both in your area and others. If your specialty is metal work, check out what fiber artists are up to. Keep current. Keep fresh. Keep trying.       






Thursday, January 3, 2013

Try, a theme

Last year, I had a theme. It was "collaborate." I collaborated with some friends to share their work on this blog. I read Twyla Tharp's wonderful book, The Collaborative Habit, life lessons for working together. And in October, I was a part of a collaborative art show at the Firehouse, a community arts center here in Del Rio. Our show, LEAP was a success and I really enjoyed working with Julia, Karen, Kendrick and Nancy. I learned so much from them.

So I thought this idea of a theme works for me. It makes much more sense than the horrible resolutions people saddle themselves with this time of year. OK, now to decide on a theme for 2013. First, I thought of Social Media. But that's an adjective and a noun, not what I want. I want a strong verb like collaborate.

Learn. Learn is a strong verb. I want to learn. Hmmm. I thought about the word Learn for awhile and it just doesn't fit. I teach at a university. I want my students to learn. For me, it has the connotation of slaving over a textbook and notes. Experiment and Research can be used as verbs but they have the same academic problem.    

Thinking about what I want to accomplish this year, I thought what do I want to try. And Eureka! There was my verb. Try. Those three little letters can change the universe. Try. What do I want to try this year? I will try some new mixed media techniques. I will try Skype. I will try some new recipes. I will try to write regularly. Will I succeed at everything? Absolutely not. I will succeed at some things, but not everything. That's OK. I know this going in. The important thing is that I will try.

So what about you? Will you try a theme in 2013? What will it be? Please share.