Heading in a new direction is always exciting. The road unfurls before us, full of opportunities just waiting for us to seize them.
Taking a new path doesn’t mean abandoning what went before, though. Everything builds on everything. As I have learnt new things in this first week of 2013 and look forward to learning many more, I see this. What I learn in photography has a positive impact on my art. Similarly, one online activity paves the way for another.
This week I fell in love with 3D digital art. And how! I have been immersed in an exciting new world.
But I find that I have taken a circular route back to an old love. A few years ago I was taking my first steps with 3D digital models at a time when I was learning about online education. It was not the reason behind my being in a digital environment. That was about the teaching and learning. At the same time, it wasn’t a pointless distraction either. More a pleasant little path that meandered away from the road for a while, and that I chose to take when I had a moment to spare.
The basic skills I taught myself had no real world applications for me. Not at that time. But so often the things that grab our attention and seem to waylay us when we think we should be busy elsewhere are things we should pay attention to.
Now I discover the ever more advanced, yet reassuringly familiar, 3D tools. Discovery and rediscovery together, like arriving in a new country but seeing things you’ve already read about or seen in images.
I find too that not only does one skill or experience build on another, but different skills complement each other. Today I worked with a 3D model, then edited the render in GIMP, imported into Inkscape, there created vector paths, and finally exported that to my electronic cutting software to cut the shapes on my cutting machine. I then assembled the shapes by hand. And so created a one-of-a-kind birthday card for my nephew.
I feel out of breath just telling you the stages involved, but in reality these things come together in simple steps (though once each one seemed strange and difficult, until I learned it).
If we have open minds to learning, which creative people almost always do, then over the years we will try many things. Some will stay with us, some will seem like temporary distractions. In time, those different elements come together like the strands of a braid, creating something stronger and more versatile. Rarely is anything we learn wasted.
One thing I find is that it’s easy to take for granted those elements of our creativity. Just because you can do something doesn’t make it easy. This week, as you look forward to the opportunities of a new year, spare a thought for all the things you have already taught yourself. Often you will feel like you have a long way to go. Don’t forget just how far you’ve already come!