There comes a time when you realize that maybe you need to step back and rethink things. Not necessarily in a life changing way, but just in a way to reduce the clutter that can overcomplicate what doesn't need to be complicated. It's something I think we are all aware we need to do sometimes, but to make it happen can at times be a tedious task. Then again, sometimes there is something simple that happens, intentionally or accidentally, to make it all clear up and make the path you were on much easier to navigate.
As May turned into June I was glad that I had started working in advance on some things that needed to be done. It's not unusual for me, and I'd assume many others, to put myself in a position where I'm cramming to get things done at the last minute. I've always worked better that way, but as I've gotten older I've also realized that it causes an amazing amount of un-needed stress that I really would rather avoid. However, I found that even though I was working in advance, I was encountering another known nemesis of mine: Over Thinking.
In preparing to go to France in July, I've been working on a presentation of my portfolio that has been a long-term work in progress. I won't deny the fact that, as stressful as I can make it on myself, it has been enjoyable and enlightening. However, as time has quickly passed, I've also found that I am constantly pouring over things, building up points, tearing down others, and generally over analyzing something that should be simple. This is not to say that the larger body of work is, as a whole, a simple project, but I realized I may just need to step back for a minute and take a break.
I'd love to say that I mastered this concept all on my own, that through working diligently I came to this conclusion. I'm also not going to sit here and deny the fact that, in the end it was, if nothing else, my own inner light bulb that actually turned on. However, I did have a little help finding the switch.
I've had many conversations over the past few years with different people about the value of talking about your work with other people. Not in the sense of necessarily making a presentation, but just discussing what you've been working on. As usual, though, I'm not always the best about following my own advice, no matter how good it is. Luckily, I had the opportunity to visit with a former professor of mine over the weekend and got the insight I needed.
This visit, which was LONG overdue, was in no way meant to be a way for me to "figure things out", I just want to make that very clear. This was purely me going to see someone I consider a good friend and mentor to catch up and enjoy the time we got to spend together. As things go, though, we did talk about work and projects, but in a loose manner that I think was the key to the clarity I eventually had.
Often times, and I'm guilty of it myself, we avoid talking about our work. Sometimes this is through being overly humble, thinking you might bore others, or assuming that you can get by without sharing issues, good or bad. What I realized after the fact, though, was that through talking about my work with another artist, no matter the medium, I always seem to answer questions I didn't know I had and realize things that need to be addressed or ignored. It is not always the goal of the conversation, but given time to reflect on things you can find the clarity and answers you need to continue on your path.
Sometimes it is obvious that we need to clear up our thinking, other times we don't realize it until it happens. Either way, there is a value to discussing your work that you should never ignore. Get out there and find the people that you know and who's work you enjoy and talk to them. Go have lunch, grab coffee, whatever, and talk art. The whole conversation doesn't have to be about your current project, or theirs, but talk about whats on your mind. After that, give yourself the time to sit and let it all set in. The value of that simple, loose conversation can be immeasurable in the way it clears your head.