Finishing the cat

I was talking with my mom this evening, and she reminded me of a time when I was little and I made a cat sculpture for a school assignment. She said that this sculpture had convinced her I was really into art.

I reminded her that I had never actually finished that cat sculpture. I can still remember, all these years later, the unfinished cat, its blocky form facing me accusingly, as though reproving me for having left it incomplete.

She said yes, that’s true, but that wasn’t the point. What she remembers is that I had described to her in great and enthusiastic detail just what it would take to finish the sculpture.

And she had realized in that moment that for me the point wasn’t to finish the cat, but rather to understand it. In my process, the important thing was not completing a task, but rather using that task to learn and to understand the process of creation.

After that, she and my dad paid for me to take art lessons. I am very glad that they did, because what I learned about visual expression in those lessons has been incredibly useful.

Thinking it over now, I realize that this has been my strategy ever since. I’ve gone into research rather than production. In research I can quickly prototype, and then iterate on those prototypes to explore new ideas as they come up. I don’t think I could have worked that way if I had been, say, working on feature films.

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