The second day of the course was much more challenging, mentally speaking.
Now that a few days have passed and the excitement is more tamed, I think the culprit of my mental struggle on the second day was the drainage of feelings of the first day. They weren’t kidding around when they said it was a very intense course!
We started the morning with practical exercises, more about disconnecting to connect. Exercises about exploring the materials available to us in the studio. First with liquid materials, then dry, and then 3D, always keeping breathing exercises in between. These exercises were quite a struggle, to be honest. Also a great learning curve and like the day before, a great way to realize or rationalize stuff about my own work. Nevertheless though, a bit of a struggle. I don’t really use color in my day-to-day artistic work, and I pretty much stick always to the same materials. Maybe it’s a default of my lifestyle but, truth be told, I feel quite happy and comfortable with my, let’s call them, “habits”.
So, because of this, I was absolutely out of my element during these exercises. And was quite wonderful (I say this now, you should see my despair during the exercises) to see how my mentality went from:
“Oh here, these need to be beautiful and perfect. I’m sure everyone else here makes beautiful and perfect stuff! Oh, I’m going to do awfully. I hate acrylics!! [I don’t] I Like watercolours but they are so difficult! Oh man, I need to use more than a colour! Is this palette weird? Geez Maria, you are weird.”
“Cope on. No one cares about what you are doing because everyone is having the exact same struggles as yourself! No one is looking at your work. And what if it’s s***? You are here to learn, to make mistakes. This is a safe space to make those mistakes. No one is judging. No one is judging. No one is judging. No one is judging.”
And suddenly, I started to use materials because I wanted to actually experiment with them, to see how they would work with each other. By the third exercise, where we could use any material to do a 3D piece I remember thinking that I was feeling like a child again. Excited by the materials but also wanting to be heard, wanting to show and share my excitement. Although much more aware of the existence and extent of my own curiosity. Which is fun, to be able to recognize these emotions while practicing whatever activity we are doing.
“Pleasure” was another word and feeling that came to my mind. In the end, I was using the materials that were giving me pleasure. Not because I needed to use them all, and all the colours, but because they were giving me pleasure to use. Not worried anymore about anyone’s opinion, not even mine. It was actually, a really good reflection on my constant anxiety about showing work. Not because of people’s reactions, but my own insecurity about it. Once again, such a great experience, but so draining. By the end, I think I just wanted to interview everyone in the room to know about their own experiences. And we did talk about it, although there were so many specific questions I wanted to ask. But the notion of “sometimes when we ask something that says more about us than the person you’re asking to” was too carved on my mind, so I ended up leaving it be. Which, right now, I think it could have been part of the exercise as well, practicing boundaries.
The second part of the day was more academic, which to me, was harder to deal with.
We were assessing texts so straightway there were different opinions, although my real difficulty was much more about not being able to hear my own thoughts and formulating my own opinions, for how overwhelmed I was feeling. To be honest with you at this stage I was happy to just listen, couldn’t even concentrate properly and I could feel the excitement being substituted by tiredness and let’s say… melting. I felt like my mind was melting in my chair, of how tired I was. But still so happy and feeling fulfilled!
I don’t know if this feeling will last, although I would love for that to happen. It was great to be back in a creative environment with new creative minds at work, feeling like my own thoughts would flare up in surprise bursts. Feeling curious again and sometimes having to say “Calm down, now” to that feeling, that thirst for knowledge and debate. And I mean… I have homework now! After 7 or 8 years, I have very welcomed homework! What a notion to finish this text.