Updated: Jan 23, 2019
You don’t stop playing because you grow old; you grow old because you stop playing.
That’s one of my favorite sayings. And it is true for learning as well, especially when it comes to improving or growing forward with your craft.
You don’t stop reading/studying/learning because you’ve read a book/took a class/etc. Your technique, abilities and creative work can stagnate if you don’t keep pushing yourself to expand your horizons.
Recently, while attending a pottery workshop, I was taken aback by another attendee who kept preempting the teacher with comments that bordered on rudeness: ‘You’re going to do x next, aren’t you?’, ‘I’ve done z and that always works better than that’, ‘I took a class with big shot so and so, and he does xyz which is what I do’. All which make me want to ask, why are you here if you think you already know it all?
I didn’t ask her, of course. I believe there are those people out there that are afraid of change, who come to workshops to impress others with what they believe to be the one and only way to do things, and perhaps make themselves feel a bit more important.
Fortunately, in this instance, the instructor had the good grace to let a lot of this roll off her back, and it was an informative and enjoyable workshop in spite of the know-it-all student.
I happen to know that the know it all potter has worked with clay for over 35 years, while I have a measly 23 years under my belt. The instructor was a youthful 30 year old, and the information she shared was new and benefited all of us there.
You can learn from young or old, experienced or not, because everyone has a different perspective on technique. There isn’t always one way to do things right.
Personally, I enjoy attending workshops. Primarily pottery, but I also dabble in painting and craftwork. It amazes me how trying new things can always stimulate creativity in all venues of one’s life.
Learning new techniques always has a recharging effect. Sometimes it can be a refresher that comes at a time you are ready to absorb and incorporate into your own process. It can become the thing you need to bring your craft to the next plateau.
But your attitude has to be receptive to accept and implement. Having an open mind plays an important role
A sculptor in Tucson, Arizona, Mary Susan Cate of Reality Check Studio, refers to this as having a ‘teachable spirit’. I define this as being open to accept new experiences, ideas, feedback, and being willing to accept change.
You must have humility, welcome feedback and criticism, practice new techniques, and keep learning. Honing your craft abilities is a lifelong process.
“You cannot help but learn more as you take the world into your hands. Take it up reverently, for it is an old piece of clay, with millions of thumbprints on it.” ―John Updike