…but I am not a cat. And neither are you.
When I was on my creative retreat last March, there were a few themes that kept coming up. They were from different authors and podcasters and, if I heard them more than once, it really made me take notice. Enthusiasm, showing up, schedule, and routine were some of those themes. Another one was curiosity.
Since then, I’ve heard curiosity brought up in many creative business podcasts.
Follow your curiosity. Be curious. Stay curious.
I even heard it in a sermon about cynicism. One way to combat cynicism is to be curious…to not assume the outcome, but to approach life with a sort of wonder. “What would happen if…”
It’s the triumph of hope over experience.
(Does anyone recognize that period drama reference?)
I realized, as I’ve been listening to all of this talk about curiosity, that I meander through my creative journey in that way. If I wonder about something, I’ll usually just give it a try and see where it leads. Sometimes, it’s a dead end and sometimes I discover something new about myself or something new that I love or something new I want to add to my business.
The best example of this in my own life recently, as you may have guessed, has been with my art. For years, maybe even decades, I would look at the art of others and marvel at it. I would wistfully imagine being comfortable in front of a blank canvas, excited about how I might fill it with how I see the world.
I actually tried my hand at fine art painting when I first started my business. I was painting on just about everything else, so why not canvases. I painted a few simple, mediocre barns in acrylic paint and assessed that the talent to create fine art that was worthwhile just wasn’t present in me. I would stick to painting walls and furniture.
That curiosity remained, though, and I finally decided to chase it a couple of years ago. I played with watercolors, graphite sketches, soft pastels, and digital painting/drawing. I really enjoyed watercolors, but I always loved the look of oil paintings and felt drawn to that particular medium. It was the one I was most intimidated to try, though. I know it sounds silly, but I was intimidated by the clean-up! How exactly does one clean oil paint off a wooden palette?
I was fortunate enough to have a friend who studied fine art in school and she guided me through my first couple of oil painting sessions. I ended up moving before we got very far, though. Then, I joined Michelle Wooderson in The 100 Meadows Project. That was a game changer. I had no idea what I was doing, but I was curious enough to just dive right in. I knew the paintings would be bad. I knew I would be embarrassed by them. But I also knew that there was no way to get better at painting than to actually paint.
All three of those things ended up being true!
So, I’ve been painting and studying and practicing and learning and reading and watching. And, it’s interesting… The more I try to satisfy the curiosity, the more curious I become. I am hungry to learn more and grow more. I am satisfied in my pursuit, yet unsatisfied with my current knowledge and ability. In a good way. The way that encourages me to continue to practice and seek out instruction.
It has not only spurred me along in art, but it’s made me curious to try other things. I’ve always wanted to be really good at calligraphy. I can sort of fake it, but I’d like to write in beautiful Copperplate script with flourishes and embellishments. So, I’ve bought some books and some Copperplate nibs for my dip pens and I’ve been following that curiosity as well. I have no idea how I’ll use calligraphy once I learn it, but I’m going to learn it none-the-less and just see where it goes. (And I enjoy using my 1820’s silver dip pen I purchased in Paris.)
All of this to say, don’t be cynical about what you can and can’t do. Take a minute to wonder about the things you’ve always wanted to do or try.
What if? What if you try it? What if you give it a good, solid month or a year?
Maybe it won’t go anywhere, but maybe it will.
Be curious. Follow that curiosity.
Chase it, even.
And see what happens…
What are you curious about?