Reflections: Progress vs. Product

"Bark: (Bust 1)" Made in 1999/ "Red, White, & Orange" Fingerless gloves, Jan 2008

I'm heady lately. Full of thoughts and thinking. Very contemplative and turned inward, roaming, searching, thinking. Experiencing a healthy dose of creative melancholy. The reflections. The year in review. The little manageable bittersweet bits of grief. The pretty weathered things. The shiny gems ahead. The broken doll parts. The chipped picture frames. The torn hem of the favorite dress from so much spinning and dancing and even more dancing.

The big question that seems to keep spinning through my brain is regarding creative progress, artistic growth, vision. I'm spinning w/ the big questions: how do we measure our growth as artists, writers, crafters, designers, and creative people? Not thinking so much about the praise, attention, or recognition an artist might receive but more about how we measure our own artistic growth over the years, months, or weeks, depending on our artistic habits. I'm not sure that we ever "arrive" at anything artistically. Instead, maybe we get to know our selves better and can measure our growth by how we understand what we are doing differently than before. Yes? Perhaps? Maybe?

Or maybe it's just the act of creating that marks the progress. I mean, how do we mark artistic "progress" anyway aside from marking it by our own instincts, realizations, or willingness to keep taking creative risks in our artwork and to keep producing artwork regardless of our inner critics? Maybe that's how we should define growth, creatively, or otherwise: simply to grow, to expand, to open and re-open and stay dedicated to that re-opening.


  1. hmmm, to me, creative growth means personal growth, a spiritual spurt upwards into more of myself. if i am feeling more like "me" it's because i am creating. and even better if the things i'm creating feel like me. so, in some ways creative growth can mean lots of friction as we struggle with "what is me?" and sometimes creative growth feels refreshingly calm and sweet like "oh yeah, this is me."

    i wonder if the weather has you feeling heavy? i'm thinking it definitely has me on the edge of melancholy.

    mom arrives tomorrow but we should make a date for next week!


  2. for me, at this moment, it is simply creating....that is my progess as an artist. down the road i think it might be tweaking my style. i agree with kelly rae that there is friction with the struggle.

    i love the bark bust. i have never seen anything like that.

  3. Shauna1/25/2008

    On measuring growth
    forget linear measurement and time boxes (24/7).

    forget here or there, you or me, us or them, trees or pavement.

    it's not that achievement isn't important (perfecting a skill, getting the manuscript out, etc.)-- but it is secondary to your experience of creating.

    every experience of creating is an opportunity to express yourself authentically and to access the love and beauty and truth you/we all crave.

    bring your attention to each moment more than you mark where you've come from or where you're going to.


  4. being heady is a good thing [i think].

    i think it's always hard to measure our own progress. especially when there are so many outside pressures/influences.

    thanks for your kind comment on my blog!

    have a great weekend

  5. Oh Katrina, this is so relevant to me right now. 2007 saw huge growth for me creatively, least of all seeing myself as an artist for the first time. Even now though I am questioning that. If my work looks like 'me' I worry that it's not good enough, if it looks like anyone else's I worry that I've ripped it off. I am learning to ignore those voices and listen to that inner, truer voice. Well, I'm beginning to learn. I've always been a quick learner in some ways and I inherited my great-grandmother's nimble fingers, so I can create good looking objects with relative ease. And sometimes, just between us, I coast on that. For me, right now, growth has to be about progress and process. It's about showing up in the artroom, putting paint on the page, water to the wool, whatever. It's about listening for my voice and then letting it sing. And about learning from you all, too!

  6. **dear blog friends** i just want to thank you all for your thoughtful comments on this post. i'm grateful for your shared thoughts & to be able to build community & connection through this blog. so, thank you.


Thank you for your comments, friends. I like to think we are creating a dialogue in this space--building a virtual community.