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Gardening vs. The Creative Journey

As I've been out in the garden after a very wet winter (for Southern California), I've been thinking about how much gardening is like the artistic process. With some care and attention, plants grow and begin to create a composition. As I trim back the geranium that went to town growing in all that rain, I find other potted plants that have been hidden. They've been doing well too, I just couldn't see them until now. The black bamboo is sending up new shoots, my plumerias are beginning to form leaves, and everything is fuller and greener than they were a few months ago.

This is why I love gardening. I enjoy spending time watering and seeing what's different. I like it when the fruits of my labor pay off. My potted hibiscus was full of weeds and after I pulled those and gave it a good top coat of fresh potting soil it rewarded me with a couple blooms within a few days.

And that's where the similarity to the artistic process differs. Like the artistic process, if you go out everyday and tend to the garden it will reward your time and effort. That growth can be seen a whole lot quicker in the garden than with creative exploration. As I was saying in my previous blog, this artistic journey takes time. Progress can't always be seen day to day. It can, mostly, only be appreciated over time. Rome wasn't built in a day - all that.

Gardening is more immediate. I can spend an hour clearing weeds, trimming things back, and rearranging potted plants and be immediately gratified with a fresh, clean corner of the garden. If I want the same gratification with my artwork, I need to keep at it consistently and trust that over time I will see the fruits of my labor.

I'm in the process of putting together a collection of plywood prints using some of my existing illustrations. I put together this mock-up to identify which ones I'd begin editing to be used for this purpose:


What began as a task rewarded me the way gardening does. I was immediately able to recognize that this collection of work I've created is something I could be proud of. Like, okay... this is proof that I'm not spending ALL my time scrolling on my phone. Very satisfying. 

It's important to take a step back every once and awhile to see the collective progress. Maybe I'm a little impatient. When I list something new and don't get a sale right away I feel like that means it's a flop. When I create a video and only get a handful of views that means it's stupid. When I post my latest illustration and only my husband and children like it, I'm a loser. I know I shouldn't see these things like that. I suppose I need to reserve my need for instant gratification to the garden. Over time - like the oak tree I planted that doesn't seem to have grown at all - progress and accomplishment will develop. Be patient. Have faith. Don't stop.

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