Someone read the blog I posted yesterday (I know!) and asked if I would be willing to elaborate on what I meant by “mastery.” His understanding of “mastery” was that it boiled down to having a comprehensive understanding or skill set of a particular subject and he was a bit confused about the almost mystical way I was discussing it. The confusion lay in the subject of my pursuit. He thought I was discussing the mastery of art making as the goal when instead I was trying to show that my art making was the means by which I pursue the mastering of a moment or action.
In a sense I am participating in a meditational activity more than an art making activity. I could just as easily be undertaking this activity through means other than making art. Coming to this revelation this past week has really changed the way I think about my process. It explains why I have always had difficulty describing what kind of artist I am and why I actively explore a wide variety of different processes and styles. I used to think of myself as a process artist, more interested in the process of making than the final outcome, but that never quite felt right, like clothing that was a bit too small or too large. Although it is the process that matters, it is not an exploration of the materials or the process in which those materials interact that matters. It is the internal focus required by the practice that is goal. I am trying to master the path to that place of complete focus and the map I am using is the making of art. I use whatever materials and style are giving me the clearest path to that point at any given moment because I find the landscape always alters almost daily as I change through experiences almost daily.
It is an odd thing to discover that you have been doing something for more than twenty years before you understand why you are doing it.