“Every intrepid traveler knows that each journey, no matter what its length or degree of difficulty, begins with a single step. How one take that initial step and in what direction determines much of what will follow. As the order of the journey unfolds, we need to design the sequence of our encounters while being mindful of several characteristics of journeys that seek not simple the new, but the transformative.
The invitation to take the first steps should be presented in such a way that everyone can take that step; in other words, it should present the lowest threshold to participation. If we feel in any way inadequate in these initial engagements, our sense of inadequacy is likely to permeate reactions to all subsequent activities. The initial engagement should therefore require the least amount of specialized information about art or any external subject matter. For instance, the following would seem a poor initial question: “If you could be any artist during the Italian Renaissance, who would you be and what would you paint?” A thoughtful introspective, question, but one that presupposes detailed information about time, place, circumstance, style and biographical information. NO affect is required; it is all conscious and deliberate work. There is nothing personal to wrestle with and overcome. Furthermore, response to the question requires a degree of visual literacy and memory that not many people possess. A better phrasing might be: ” If you could transport yourself to any time and any place, where would you go, when would you arrive, and what would you see?” Here, the response can go to any time and any place and the only place they can go is where they CAN go; the place is of their choice and making , not the questioner’s . They can image whatever they are capable of imaging, not something esoteric and difficult as is the task of imaging someone else’s style of seeing image- making.
The first steps (to making art) ought to be technically easy for the same reasons. Technique is always one of the great fears of any apprentice. The greater the fear, the greater the preoccupation with technical things. This in turn leads to timidity about the scope of imagination, narrowness of range of expression, and a concern for safety rather than depth.
The initial portions of the creative journey have as their prime purpose the establishment of a sense of trust and comfort in oneself, one’s peers , and the general kind of terrain to be explored.Once this foundation is developed, we can move on to the subsequent phase of the transformative journey, a gradual expansion of the invitation to fathom the whole depth and range of our thoughts and feelings concerning the place in the world we would have for ourselves.”