The Importance of Being a Beginner

This post is a throwback post to my first blog, Art as Usual. I wrote it around 2012 after my first book was published, but it’s funny and might help you realize that even though EVERYONE feels awkward as a beginner the benefits are so SO worth it! I also have a free printable for you at the bottom of the post! So grab yourself a cup of coffee and tea and prepare to be amused inspired. 😂

A Comedy of Errors- My Experience Learning Something New

I tried something new and went to a metalworking class last night. The class was How to Make Riveted Jewelry, and I was going to have a chance to make a riveted pendant. 

I LOVE the look of these pendants and thought why not? It’s a beginner class, how hard could it be?

The Good

It felt wonderful to be in a studio atmosphere again, and I loved the class. I learned to use a jeweler’s saw, a metal punch, a Foredom flexible shaft rotary drill, and a slew of other metalworking tools. 

The Not-so-Good

I was excited to be learning something new but was surprised at how inept I felt at the same time.

It’s hard being a beginner at something, especially if you’ve gotten pretty good at your “thing.”

I felt highly unskilled, made a ton of mistakes, and generally had a wonderful time.

A Comedy of Errors

Okay, so you have to remember how you felt the last time you were in an unfamiliar environment with a bunch of people you didn’t know.

And now, here are the highlights of my night…

  • I cut out the heart shape with a jeweler’s saw and snapped the blade.
  • I use a disc cutter for the first time to punch out the silver disc, and because I couldn’t remember which way was right, I unscrewed the handle, popping out a spring that thankfully went back together pretty easily (before too many people noticed). 
  • I decided to give the edge of my disk a “hammered” look and, because I missed the edge ended up “texturizing” the entire disk to cover it up. 
  • I used the saw to cut a 1/4″ slice off a copper tube for the center rivet and lost it twice on the last cut. *
  • I dulled the drill bit (I think), because I forgot to make a divet to mark the drill spot first.
  • And for a triumphant finish, I filed off a couple of my fingernails as I tried to even out my cut on the tube rivet. (I’d claim I ruined my manicure, but I rarely have one, so the uneven appearance of my nails isn’t that big of a deal). 

*So I spent quite a bit of the time crawling around the floor and asking people if they could please move a little so I could get my bit of tube.

(I realized the second time it happened that I had low-ride jeans on, so that made the crawling around a little interesting. Crawl, yank up the jeans, crawl, pull down my shirt… you get the idea). 

Was Being a Beginner Worth It?

It was hard to feel so clumsy again, and it was hard to keep asking for help.

I remember, though, this awkwardness is how I felt when I first picked up the wire and I ended up writing a book that. Now, the wire just flows for me. I love it.

Will I get to that point with the metalworking? I don’t know.

But I do know that before I can be good at it, I’ll have to let myself be a beginner and let myself make mistakes, and generally screw up a lot. That’s how we learn.

So yes, I think it was totally worth it because I…

  • Was super excited about learning something new.
  • Got to try some new tools that I wouldn’t buy before trying them (but totally want now).
  • Remembered how humbling it can be to ask for help!
  • Enjoyed being part of the class instead of teaching it.
  • Experienced the joy of new possibilities in my own creative work.
  • Anticipated how awesome it will be to be proficient at a new skill.

Let Yourself Make Bad Art

In her book, Art and Soul, the artist Audrey Flack relates a conversation with another artist where she admits she did bad art for a whole year when she picked up her watercolors again.

She was an extremely skilled sculptor at this time, and to be willing not only to put herself back to the beginning but to go through the experience of “making bad art” for that long is such an inspiration to me. And a lesson for both of us.

The Importance of Being a Beginner

Because the super cool people doing the super cool stuff? They are where they are because they were willing to be a beginner over and over and over again.

So be a beginner again, let yourself make bad art, and be gentle with your creative self as you learn and make mistakes; it could be the start of something wonderful.

Want to know more about why I think Creativity is a breathing exercise? Read this!

Get the Printable Manifesto!

Creating your own manifesto is super fun- and you can easily do it in Procreate. But, I do have one you can print out in my Free Library. You can read more about what it means in this post.

Need the password? Just sign up for my email list, and you’ll get the password emailed directly to you!

And now that Procreate will let you import PDF’s it’s super easy to import it from the Gallery and then add a new layer, move it beneath the PDF import and add some watercolor and gouche in Procreate before you print it.

FYI- For the colors I’m using my Boho Rainbow Palette Light from my Boho Rainbow Procreate Brush Bundle.

Inspired by this Post on Being a Beginner? Save it or Share it!

Thanks for reading this throw-back post! I hope it inspired you to be brave and to try something new- no matter how awkward it can be.

Thanks for Reading,

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