Making Friends With Your Medium: 10,000 Hours or More!
I’ve been spending the week preparing for a two day Encaustic Collage workshop I’m leading this weekend. I spent the first two days gathering supplies, mixing up a big batch of encaustic medium (beeswax and demar resin) tidying up the scraps of paper and ephemera I have collected over the years to share with my students, writing my lesson plans and making teaching samples for the retreat. One of the things I always tell my students is that you have got to get to know the medium. I ask them to think about this workshop as a first date. I tell them don’t expect to get to first base the the first time out… meet for coffee – take some time, ask questions, explore; no expectations, no demands, then when you get to know each other better well…. While I would say I’m on very friendly terms with encaustic collage I realized this week that I hadn’t taken time lately to get together with this friend for a quality visit. Most of my recent encounters have been more like a quick chat standing in the parking lot after a PTA meeting. This isn’t enough to catch up and deepen our relationship. I really needed to spend some quality time with this dear friend that I had been neglecting. So I spent the next two days playing, not just getting ready for a sale or a class but really exploring going deeper. I’m glad I took the time, it will make the class I teach better and it renews my excitement about the process, that’s good for me and the folks coming to the weekend workshop.
That leads me to share some insights from a book I often quote, Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers. In it Gladwell explains the 10,000-Hour Rule. He sites studies and presents stories suggesting that the key to success in any field has nothing to do with talent. It’s simply practice, 10,000 hours of it — 40 hours a week for 5 years or 20 hours a week for 10 years, you get the idea. That’s a lot of hours! Talent comes from putting in the time, building a relationship. I find this notion particularly compelling even comforting. In my work, my art, my relationships, my parenting, my everything, I am on a journey, wandering (sometimes focused, sometimes aimlessly) towards my 10,000 hours. I am working on understanding, building richness and depth. When I’ve reached my ten thousand hours, what then? Well then I’ll dive right in to my next ten thousand hours and see what more there is to be learned.
Here is a link to Malcolm Gladwell’s website http://www.gladwell.com.
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