(The first version of this post appeared in my old website on June 27, 2017.)
As we move through various phases of our lives, it seems that we are always revisiting things we have learned but in a different context. Focusing on ‘process’ over ‘outcome’ is one of those things for me.
Learning about Zentangle taught me the importance of being in the moment, letting go of judgements, and re-learning how to create just for the joy of it. If it had not been for Zentangle, I don’t know if I would have ever rediscovered this. It’s all about the process of drawing; the experience of actually creating something is more important than the finished tile. The magic is in how satisfying the end result usually is.
This is a hard feeling to hang onto when we talk to other people. We are so used to measuring worth in terms of outcome that creating something just for the act of creating is a hard concept for some people to get. (If you don’t believe me, find out how many seconds it takes for a new acquaintance to ask what you do/did for a living).
“But what do you DO with it?” they ask me when I tell them about Zentangle.
Often I do nothing with it. My daily tiles are not meant to be ‘done-with’. I keep them in a photo box so I can paw through them from time to time. One box will hold at least 365 tiles, so I have one for each year I’ve tangled. It doesn’t take up much room because I have no plans to display them all. I do post my daily tiles on social media, but that’s my commitment to show up regularly with a tile and without judgement. I want to be okay with not being perfect, and to show others it’s okay, too.
Even my Zentangle Inspired Art (ZIA) is something I do to please myself. I create things I want to in order to explore art techniques, to experiment with tangling things on different surfaces, or simply to please myself.
“You should sell your stuff,” is so nice to hear, and I am pursuing this with some of my ZIA. But from time to time I need to pull back from that aspect for one simple reason.
When you start to prepare art for sale it becomes about outcome again. And it becomes easy to second guess yourself. Now you aren’t just pleasing yourself, you’re pleasing your prospective buyer. And you need to produce in order to sell. It’s pretty hard to ignore the “what if it isn’t good enough?” voice in your head.
For me, that’s when it’s important to make it clear in my mind the purpose of what I’m doing. Is this piece meant to be something I am creating to please just myself? If so, whether or not it sells, or other people like it is beside the point.
Isn’t that what art is really about? Making something that gives you joy, or simply gives you a voice, regardless of what other people think.
When you focus on the process and the joy of creating, and you just keep doing it, the outcome really does take care of itself.