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Before Product, There is Process

Updated: Aug 24, 2021

Letters matter.

In my previous blog, "You have the key, you find the door, do you have the courage" I talked about the courage to try new things and being creative. However, the concept probably was too abstract without some form of demonstration. So I spent the last week working on a project and record each stage of the process until I had the product to show you.

Let's start with one of my favourite artists, Raphael, as part of this demonstration. Unlike present days, artists in the past did not have social media platforms to share their unfinished works and keep a record. All the pieces we see in museums and galleries are all finished products. We can only interpret what the artists tried to express at that moment when they put aside their brushes and yelled, "Now, it is right". But we could never know how they get to the "right", how they struggled and changed their ideas repeatedly.

Raphael "Virgin in the meadow" 丨 Raphael, Four studies for the 'Virgin in the meadow.'

The world luckily keeps the sketch of Raphael's masterpiece "Virgin in the meadow". I am not going to sing praises about how great the work is. Beauty is in the eye of the beholders. The point is that great artists also spend a tremendous amount of effort and time on the process. In this case, the balance and the harmony of the composition.

You probably would argue that this is Raphael, the great artist. How could this be a good demonstration for an ordinary individual like me. But sometimes, we forget they were all humans, they worked hard as humans, and they went to bed and ate food just like each of us. What happened to them can also happen to us.

The following example will be from an ordinary person who is still alive. That is me.

I mentioned I had been working on a project in the past week, and I took a snapshot of the process of it. The picture below was taken by one of my friends in Dunedin, New Zealand. We went for a run at 7 am at the Saint Kilda beach once for a while when the weather allows. Since I am moving to Auckland this Saturday, so I want to do something to say farewell. So I decided to draw a digital painting of this beautiful scenery.

8 am Saint Kilda Beach, Dunedin, New Zealand 丨 Photo by Muriel

I believe there is an emotional curve to working on a project. In the beginning, I felt so excited simply because I have something to work on, and I thought the idea was great. Then, once I started working on it, I felt that it was harder than my expectations.

After that, my soul went into a nightmare. I thought nobody could produce such an ugly painting as I do. The colour did not make sense. I was filling the canvas with colours. I forced myself to take a break that day.

Day 1 "Nobody can know about this shit"

The next day, when I looked at the draft, I thought, " it is not that bad. See what we can do today".

Two hours later. There were colours everywhere, and I lost my patience again. See the mess I made in the sky. I picked up my kindle and started reading for the rest of the day.

Day 2 "It is a mess"

The day after, I woke up and opened the painting again. "It's not that bad." I thought.

Two hours later. I started to feel something. The colours and each brushwork started to have their purpose. I spent less time looking at the original picture but painting with my imagination, the colour in my mind instead of the colour from my eyes.

Day 3 "I can make it right"

In the next three days, I put one colour here and one colour to find out which will make it right and emotionally resonate with me.

Finally, there was a moment that I said to myself, "This is it, don't touch anything anymore". Then I dropped my brush and yelled.

Day 6 "Don't touch anything anymore"

Each project is painful but rewarding in the end.

I hope my struggle can help you to move your ass. I will leave you here.


Book to read: "The Story of Art" ------ E. H. Gombrich

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