Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Tool of Process

Part of our mission at SoulPerSuit is to help unpack some of the creative process. While putting together a SoulPerSuit card is a highly individual act, there are a few tools one can keep on hand to make the process less intimidating.

One "tool" to bring with you is an understanding that just as much can be accomplished in the process of creating a SoulPerSuit card as is accomplished in the finished product of a SoulPerSuit card. If we get hung up on producing a museum quality piece of artwork, we'll become just that-- hung up. A person who is willing to embrace a mistake and either learn from it or incorporate it into their card design is going to sleep better at night and probably enjoy their SoulPerSuit experience more than one who can't let go.

Here's a personal example. For our recent SoulPerSuit group in Premium Roast with Ruth, I had an idea for a card that would represent the groaning and duress that is common to all of creation. Each of us endures our specific losses and our individual griefs, but decay and loss in general are something that this entire planet shares. We are all hurting in some way, all mourning the loss of something, disappointed by the decay of one thing or another. To communicate this idea I was going to make a picture of the Earth caught up in a giant tear.
Well, I was.

My daughter's finger paints proved that it is impossible to achieve a high level of detail with any artistic medium touting itself as, "Ideal for Preschoolers." All my carefully sketched continents and bodies of water became...
... greenish blue globs and smears.
(Certainly not the concept I'd started out with.)

At the point I realized finger paints were not the right medium for map making I was faced with the decision to either scrap this first attempt and start again, or to see what might become of these greenish blue globs of paint. I was also forced to re-examine the concept behind this particular SoulPerSuit card. Was a detailed image of the world vital to communicating my message? Were there any other elements in my card that might be able to communicate the message just as clearly?

Since I had several written portions to this SoulPerSuit card that said what I needed to say, with or without a recognizable globe, I decided to press on with my finger painted "mistake."

"The whole creation groans and suffers... even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for the redemption of our body." Romans 8: 22-23

Pushing the fingerpaint around, writing out the things I mourn, looking up a Scripture verse to capture the fallen state of creation, and taking a step back to deliberate on how to best use my "mistake" were, for me, all a part of the discovery process. They all worked into my conversation with God. And it's all a vital part of SoulPerSuit. My SoulPerSuit card doesn't have a pristine rendition of our planet, but it definitely gave voice to my feelings and thoughts. And in that respect this card is a success.


San said...

My husband had an experience at work today that made him feel like he'd gone from "somebody" to "nobody." Your entry really ministered to me by giving voice to the pain. Thanks.

Abby said...

I've made mistakes. Boy have I made mistakes - especially when it comes to artwork.

It's so helpful and encouraging to be reminded that they're just that: mis-takes. They're not irredeemable failures, they're not proof of a severe lack of competence, they are mis-takes. These mis-takes often prove to be better at achieving my goal than what I had planned...or else they provide me with an idea for a much better goal to which I can aspire.

Your teardrop was an awfully beautiful and inspiritng mis-take.

rhon said...

We did SPS at the Shandon Baptist Church women's retreat at the end of January. I had one lady specifically tell me that the process of doing SPS helped her clear her head. She said she came to the retreat and sat down to the SPS project with her head full, swimming with too many things. She began to "remove" all the different things in her head and putting it down in her card. She said, by the end, her head was clear. She said it would be something she wold definitely do again.