It is Wednesday, so I again have the privilege of introducing you to an extraordinarily gifted individual who has changed my life. This week’s post was written by my sister, Jane Dietrich, a gifted artist and writer. I think Wednesdays are my new favorite day of the week...
"Previously, Anna spoke to autumn being a time of change and processing. It struck a chord with me as I am currently changing and processing life during this season.
In art and in life, process is important. Yet, at an art exhibit the process is rarely seen; only the finished product is judged. As I work on my art and my character, I must keep in mind that the work won't be finished today or even tomorrow. I can’t rush. But, I can finish a part today, and another part tomorrow.
Sculpture, my favorite medium, begins with a process called pointing. During pointing you hit the corners and edges off the stone with a hammer and chisel. Then, you carve a shallow grid on the stone to make sure all loose pieces come off early in the process instead of when you're almost done. Without this process, I am an amateur. The work will fall apart without the structure of process. In life, skipping steps of development result in immaturity and needing to regress when hardship strikes. Avoiding the hard hits of life will end up having a good thing crumble when all seems almost perfect. Though it takes time removing the stone, when a piece is finished, you see how important the tedious, boring, and seemingly invisible parts really are.
In most aspects of my life, the process tears me apart. It’s so frustrating and hard that I want to give up. I want to know what’s next. I want to be in control. However, in art, the process, not the final product, is what gives me the courage to keep creating. I create because, ironically, the process removes me from my thoughts. I lose track of hours and love it. I am not escaping reality but processing it. I have control over the tools but have no idea where they will take the piece. I do what I can in that time and when I am done for the day I am drained, yet renewed. This phenomenon is how I know without a doubt that I am meant to be an artist.
When I lose track of time, I truly find peace in where I am. The thoughts, anxieties, pressure of being the best all go away. For a person who is extremely concerned with what others think, deadlines, and perfection, THIS IS SAYING A LOT. But the process is what keeps me going when I do feel like the worst, or I can't see how it will turn out. This peace is how I know art is right for me.
This is all well and good to say about art but I'll admit, at times I've gone through the entire correct process and come out with works that are not great. Or, despite my following all the steps flawlessly, a finger falls off when I’m almost finished carving a pair of hands. What does this say about process? Was it not worth it? I've realized that the process is much greater than simply getting to a great work. There is process within the oeuvre, the artist's sum total of works, as well. A poor piece still teaches the lessons from its individual process. Though it may not be much to look at, the piece could be a huge stepping-stone in a greater discovery for the development of this oeuvre.
So, the age-old question arises once again:
What is good art?
With famous artists, museums keep terrible mess up works simply because they were done by this artist or that one. At one time these pieces were trash. Still, people look at them in awe because in the grand scheme of things, these terrible works are magnificent. They are a piece of history. We love to know that something terrible can be turned into something worthy. Yet, the difference between life and art is that in art we are usually admiring other works while in life we focus on our own. Still, the questions remain the same.
Who really sees what happens in the process? How much should we let people see what happens behind the scenes? Does seeing the process make the final product lose some of its mystery and wonder?