The Pleasure of Process

I admit to having a certain proclivity towards process in and of itself even though I also fret over unfinished business, the half-written story or one without a good ending, the half-finished painting. Yes, it’s good to finish what you start, but if finishing is always your goal, you’re missing out on the delights of the process. If you linger too much in process, there’s that uncomfortable nagging inside about what’s left undone.

Sometimes process and output are inextricably linked. A project can have its own unique forward momentum. At other times, the doing IS the thing.

Sweat-soldered band ring with puddle pattern. Jane Pellicciotto, Portland, OregonThis photo montage shows the process of making a sweat soldered band ring where two pieces of metal, in this case sterling silver, are soldered together flat. The top layer has cut-out designs that stand out when the ring is given a patina. The top layer of patina is removed, leaving only the recessed areas with oxidation.

If I hadn’t been in a class, I might have filled several pages in my sketchbook because that is where I can lose myself. In museums, I’ve always been more drawn to the pencil sketch studies that led to a finished painting, rather than the final painting. In my graphic design work, I often like the feel of my sketches for a website or brochure that the finished work doesn’t quite capture.

There is more than one purpose to sketches and plans. Sometimes they stand as individual entities on their own. They’re a manifestation of wishes, of how the mind works, a testament to beginnings. They can reveal our true nature. They’re important artifacts of the process of making.

The internet is filled with time-management and productivity tips, explanations of why we procrastinate, such as fear of not being perfect enough or closing off better options. When the stakes are high, finishing is very important. But it’s easy, in our productivity-focused society, to apply that thinking to all our endeavors. We can forget to take off our productivity tie before putting on our explorer’s smock when we enter our own personal creative zone, or as I like to call it, “The Girl Cave.”

What are your thoughts about process? Are you a finisher or a starter? Share your thoughts.

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