In 1970, I was nominated to attend the Georgia Governor’s Honors Program [GHP] in a number of areas, because I was such a gifted gifted child. I chose art, and despite my obvious shortcomings in the field I was selected as one of 45 art majors that summer.
For those who do not know, GHP is a residential summer program for gifted and talented high school juniors and seniors. Out of 3,000 nominations from across the state, approximately 700 are chosen to spend their summer living on a college campus (currently Berry College in Rome, GA) and learning with their peers without tests or grades.
It is pretty much heaven.
(In 1984 I returned to GHP as the media support chair; in 1996 I did a stint as the Macintosh computer lab instructor; in 1997 I was hired as the assistant program director for instruction; and finally in 2011 I ascended to the position of director of the program, presiding over our 50th summer in 2013.)
Anyway, back in 1970 I was a twerp who probably got into the program only because I scored very highly on the intelligence test they used to require, and I’m pretty certain I was the bane of Dianne Mize’s existence that summer.
But Dianne — our painting teacher — persevered, pushing us through all kinds of hippie-woo art exercises and readings in The Creative Process. You have to think that some of it stuck.
For me, it didn’t really click until later that fall, when I was back at home, curled up in a fetal position and reading Lord of the Rings for the first time. Suddenly I got it: Make the Thing That Is Not! And the rest is history.
I mention this because Dianne and I are still friends, pen pals even, and the other day on Twitter she posted this link to an exercise I thought was worth sharing: Chatter Brain Busted. Go read it.
It speaks to a major roadblock every artist has, and that is letting your rational safety-brain get in the way of making mistakes. It is your safety-brain that tells you not to write that book or that poem, not to compose that song, not to paint that self-portrait — because you’re certain to do it wrong. YOU SHOULD NOT BE MAKING MISTAKES DANGER DANGER!
Bugger your safety-brain. Do it anyway. Go ahead and plop out that ABORTIVE ATTEMPT. Fix it later. Make the Thing That Is Not.
If you’re a painter, you should check out Dianne’s book, Finding the Freedom to Create, as well as her website, which has links to her video lessons and more. She will welcome students more adept than I ever was.