Always Be A Student

I just realized I never posted a blog entry last week. What in the, I say, what in the hell is up?!

Anyway. I’ve been pondering the concept of “always be a student” for a few days now. I was doing my morning “run” – and by run I mean shuffling down the street like C3PO on a sand dune – and it occurred to me that I was enjoying the training I was putting myself through.

See, I don’t like running. I’ve never liked running. But I love the concept of clearing your head while cruising down a back country road, fresh air, birds, etc. I also like the idea of jogging down a sidewalk in a cute little town or something. The concept of running has always appealed to me. So, I set out to learn how to run properly so I could actually enjoy it.

I realized while running the other day, concentrating on my breath count and rhythm, that I was enjoying the learning I was doing. I was thoroughly engrossed in the progress I was making. It was then that I noticed that I enjoy the process of learning in a whole lot of other areas of my life.

As I continued to breathe in for 4 counts and breathe out for 4 counts repeatedly, I thought of other things I’d decided I wanted to learn over the last couple of years. I very recently taught myself how to French braid my kid’s hair. Now that I can do that, I’ve learned how to do dutch braids and side braids and fishtail braids…

I taught myself how to cook. That one took years. I failed so often it’s not even funny. But now I feel like I am a pretty decent cook and I love finding new recipes.

In relation to art, I’ve enjoyed learning from others how to paint digitally. Composition, color theory, perspective, anatomy, etc., are all things I’ve had to learn on my own through watching and learning from other artists. The thrill I get from realizing I understand a concept I didn’t previously grasp is exhilarating. It’s a moment in which I can almost physically feel that I’ve learned.

I made a decision at IlluxCon that I wanted to start oil painting. I didn’t know the first thing about oil painting and was actually quite intimidated by all the paints and mediums (wth is a medium?!) and thinners and chemicals. So I started asking around for tips and techniques. I bought Patrick Jones’s book about oil painting techniques. I bought paints and brushes and boards and canvas paper. I just jumped in. I decided to do what I do best which is to fail until I succeed.

I don’t view failure as a negative. I love failure. I live to fail. Every failure is an opportunity to learn. An opportunity to strengthen myself in whatever endeavor I’m attempting to take on.

I’ve been failing like a champ at oil painting!

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But then I succeeded a little bit.

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That gave me the confidence I needed to fail on a larger scale/project:

Underpainting for a personal project

Underpainting for a personal project

Laying down paint

Laying down paint

I’ve got a long way to go, but in the meantime, I’m still learning. If we master something, what’s the point of continuing? To remain good at it? Why not keep pushing ourselves to see what else we can do with the thing we’ve mastered? For me, that seems to be what it’s all about. To always be a student, and to love every minute, every failure, every success, everything.

Do I have days where I want to quit and throw things? I certainly do. I get extremely frustrated and discouraged. When that happens, I go back to something that I know I enjoy and that I know how to do, for a little bit of a “win”.

When all else fails, draw Batman. Or Darth Maul. Or Maleficent.

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Draw what you love, draw what brings you back to your love of the thing that has you frustrated, and it will all be alright. I promise!

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