“It takes a very long time to become young.” ~ Pablo Picasso.
The consensus among the educated seems to be this: You must learn the rules first, then you may begin breaking the rules.
Pose this concept to an uneducated person and you will get an entirely different perspective on the matter. To the uneducated, the idea of postponing expression (particularly in the arts) until one is “sufficiently educated” sounds like the worst case of inequality. Essentially, the “education-first” concept grants an exclusive right of expression to the privileged of our society, and at the same time, puts a lid on expression for the rest of us common-folk. If you can afford an education, good for you, express all you want. Everyone else gets a muzzle.
I know it’s good to speak from experience, and I can assure you that this perspective is entirely first-hand. When I was a teenager, the only path I wanted to take with my life was to be an artist in some capacity. I dreamt of going to college or university to learn the art of the arts. My dreams were lofty. That was twenty years ago. A life-time has passed since.
The past two decades have been fine enough, so please don’t hear me complaining, that’s not what this is. Many would view my previous title “Florist For Events” as a dream job … something to envy. A lot of people would like to believe I chose that line of work because I had a passion for it. While it’s true, I always had a certain passion for my work, I did not choose it. The simple fact is that I needed full-time work when I was 18. Working with flowers was my only prospect at the time … and I had bills to pay.
It’s been one year since I closed up shop and put my floral knife in the drawer, and I find myself in a curious situation; I’m not properly qualified for practicing any of my passions (according to the above rules, that is). Since I’m not big on rules, I do it anyway, posting on my blog and painting large pictures … but often with a sense of dread, as though I’m truly not allowed to be doing what I’m doing.
I have a secret to tell you … I haven’t learned the rules. But, you probably knew that already.
I take heart when I think of what Picasso said about it taking a very long time to become young. Sounds like Picasso had a whole bunch of unlearning to do.
Here’s a very big and scary question … what’s the value in learning rules in the first place if it takes a lifetime to unlearn them?
I have another secret to tell you … I was never properly educated as a florist.
True, I took a few night courses and worked under a few mentors who taught me some valuable skills … but only for a short time. When I started my business, I hadn’t the slightest clue what to do and how to do it. But, I did it anyway and managed to create a thriving niche market business for 13 years. For the most part, I have been self-taught in every aspect of my floral career. Some may find this dirty little secret surprising. (Perhaps others saw through the veil the whole time). In any case, the point is this: at some point in practicing my floral career, I transformed from being “uneducated” to “experienced” and eventually (to my own surprise) became a leader in my field. No one has ever been more shocked about the “leader” bit than me.
This is the story I run in my head when I feel intimidated by my current amateur-ness. I tell myself the story about that time I began a career at the bottom rung, sweeping the floor and cleaning buckets … and eventually became an expert. All without school.
These days, I share my work publicly, even though I’m not a professional by any stretch, for two reasons.
The first is quite simple; I like to share ideas with people. Some artists create for themselves and don’t feel the need to share. I’m not like that. I create with a goal of sending my work out into the world. It’s how I’m wired. It’s my hope that, no matter what stage I’m at, it can bring some joy or positive thought to my community. I’m hoping for connection at some level, to not merely be some kind of entertainment in a Facebook feed.
The second reason for sharing my work is to inspire. In this time of editing on editing, we rarely get a glimpse of a person’s process. How often do you get to see behind the curtain? How rare is honesty? It’s my hope that, in sharing my amateur work, you might find a spark of inspiration and say to yourself “If she can do it, maybe I can too!”
In this world where one feels almost apologetic for embarking in a new direction, I hope you can hear me saying “Go for it. Just try.” These are words we would say to encourage a child.
Why on earth do these words disappear when we become all grown up? As though we don’t encouragement anymore.
Think about this for a moment. Lets say you and I decide not to create or express ourselves because we believe it’s a job for “professionals only”. What kind of world would this be without all that beauty in it?
When you start something new, whatever it is, you are like a child looking up at the clouds, a whole world of potential above you. Anything is possible. Success or failure. Like a child, I want to see my dreams soar into the boundless blue sky like a bunch of colourful balloons, just to see what will happen. They might just take me away.
I’d like to not be afraid of falling or failing. Instead, I’d like to just create.
Like a child.