Permission Slip

26 02 2014

I am an artist. I am not a teacher. Sometimes, though – when I am asked by someone who’s important to me – I’ll give in and spend some studio time showing others how to do what I do.

I dread the whole process because I do not like to teach; but yesterday, I realized I do not teach – I give permission.

Okay. What does that mean?  What does that look like?

Here’s what it looked like, yesterday:

A dear friend came to my studio, expecting an enameling lesson. Her goal was to create one enameled switch plate to complement the art in her beautiful kitchen. My goal was to find a way not to teach.

I explained the tools and media to her in the same manner as a car salesman reviews how to set the rearview mirror and adjust the seats before you take a test-drive: perfunctory and blasé.  Then, I stood back. I let her make her own artistic decisions. She was off and flying.  With very little coaching, she completed her project. It was such a success; I suggested that she make a second one. She selected an entirely different style and completed it well, too.

This was not a lesson; it was an experience. There was no doubt; there was excitement and anticipation. There was no pressure; there was the joy of doing something new.

My friend executed several different enameling techniques that were beyond beginner level, without trepidation and with very good outcomes, not because of my grandiloquent explanation, but because I just told her she COULD.

If you want to try something new – a new medium, a new recipe, a new dance step – give yourself permission and go for it. Don’t hurt yourself or anyone else and there’s no chance of being sent to the principal’s office.



2 responses

26 02 2014
Christine Goldbeck

Amen! You both learned, with each other. Awesome.

26 02 2014

Amen to the way in which you enable people to flex their own creative muscles! I’ve found that in bead weaving, many people are “afraid” to do that kind of stretching. They would prefer that you provide a “kit” with all the colors thought out for them. I prefer that my “students” take my tutorial and choose their own colors and patterns within the limits of the tutorial’s stitches. There is nothing more sad-making than people who won’t give themselves permission to make mistakes and grow from it. I try to remind them that it’s about the journey, not just the destination…..but sadly, some will never learn that important part of the creative process…..

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