The Art of Learning

I recently spent time with several ceramic artists who generously shared information about their craft. While the terminology and techniques will have to be revisited for me to grasp, other comments were immediately applicable to life beyond pottery.

DSCN1960. spotlight and frame jpgOn Early Learning. 

The affable man on the right was starting a new piece on his wheel when he stated, almost apologetically, “I’m new to this.”

Though I suspect he’s more experienced than he gave himself credit, I can relate to the insecurities that accompany early learning. It’s not easy being the relative rookie when surrounded by veterans. It takes courage to attempt something new when everyone around you is already accomplished. Especially with an audience.

But don’t we all begin with the basics? Isn’t it the nature of learning to start in kindergarten, so to speak, and advance by steps to graduation day and beyond? Advanced skills and creative results happen only with practice over time.

The beginning stage is a precarious one, when mastery seems so far away. It’s tough to hang in there when success is an unknown. Early on, there have yet to be satisfying results to boost self-confidence and fuel motivation. It’s in the kindergarten stage of a new endeavor that many give up.

Those who quit will never know what might have been.

Those who summon whatever confidence they can muster, who keep expectations realistic and don’t quit, keep potential alive.

DSCN1964 cropped for blogIf we quit — possibilities die.

If we stay, learn, and practice — exciting accomplishments are feasible.





On Lifelong Learning.

DSCN1961.cropped and framed for blog jpgThis experienced artist had some encouraging words for the novice potter, “It took me about five years to feel competent.”

“When did you feel like you’d mastered it?” I asked.

“Never. I’ll be learning this my whole life.”

With an attitude like that, I can only imagine what outstanding pieces he will produce over his lifetime. I envision his artwork reflecting his evolving skills and life experiences. Expecting to learn is evidence of a mind open to influence. The sky is the limit for people like him.

If we approach life with similar attitudes, expectant that learning is a process, mastery is sequential, and development is ongoing, we foster our own growth. If we don’t settle for merely adequate, and instead view results as foundations to improve upon, ours will be lifelong journeys of advancement. With a tweak of a mindset, we can change “Eh, good enough” to lifelong quests of ever-improving skills, abilities, talents, relationships, and works of our hands; and of ever-increasing wisdom and knowledge.

The pictured ceramic artists graciously gave permission to include their images on my blog. Many thanks, guys!


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