The Importance of Knowing Oneself

Jul 21, 2018

What do I know about me…

Yes. It’s a life journey. The time I really saw how important this was, knowing myself, was in my first year at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. What struck me in the first few weeks was how much work there was to do and so little time. I was amazed at the work load, what I had to read, learn and do. I didn’t know it at the time, but the most important thing for me was to ‘do'. You’d think it would be learn. That I know now! But the amount was overwhelming. It probably had something to do with the content as well. I was majoring in design and I had two years of a Design class previously at Langara with 6 or 7 other classes to manage as well. So as much as I loved design, there was so much more to learn, and the design I’d studied at the art program at Langara College was general, so I could apply it to ceramics, sculpture, painting, drawing etc.

Now I was studying full on graphic design and I had no knowledge of computer use except my boyfriend’s pc, which to say the least, was cumbersome and not user friendly for a creative.

I looked at the heap before me as the clock ticked on and thought about how I handled this much before. I remembered my childhood on the farm and with all the work responsibility that came with farm life, I also had school work. Then, I figured out a way to make all ends meet, by bringing my studies to the barn. Any time I had to learn something or study for a test I’d write out the content on a sheet of letter paper as tiny as I could read, and brought that sheet with me to the barn. There I was, for two hours or more milking cows with a multiple folded sheet, pulled from my pocket and spread on my lap, reviewing the content as I milked Daisy and Penny and Calamity and and and. This worked! 

But why? I figured out that I learn in layers and my tactile experience of the material was imperative to the process. This studying regime served me because I read, then copied it down,… often in crazy locations, like around one the 3 ring binder holes in the page, or I’d draw a line between information and the content below or beside as I wrapped my copy around the side of the page, to keep them separate. Then when I reviewed while milking, I saw the information in shapes and clusters and locations on the page. During exam time, I often saw the sheet in my imagination and where I’d placed the information.

The are no cows to milk now but there’s plenty to do and there lots to learn in my opinion. I used similar techniques for studying my university course material in order to “do” it. Get it done. But I have to admit that the pressure was no fertile ground to plant knowledge that grew well. 


Years later I see that “time”, for me, is a key in this learning equation. There must be time to process the information. Time for experimentation and curiosity.  This is what I bring into my art practice now. The element that I seemed to have so little of in my earlier “crunch” days. 

I see the advancements of my work as I follow my modified and matured routines and the new parts I add as I learn more about myself and how I learn. Even watching moods and what happens to my work when I’m Upset. Sad. Quiet. Excited. Stressed. All these moods have different outcomes. 

For example, I never touch my works in progress when I’m upset. And when I’m excited, I create space to gather my thoughts before working or if I am working and get excited about the direction, I take a break. Even to just go visit Henry our dog to give him a little loving before going back to the painting. Settle me down a little. That’s always a good thing. You could say, I leave to go find my centre, so I can continue to glide in the moment of bliss.

I’m always modifying what I do, to get the best out of me and to adjust to my current needs. There’s a lot of observing, studying, looking, questioning going on. But this I know to be me,… it serves who I am and as long as I am doing things for me, according to what I know about me,… I shall be fine.

Have you discovered similar changes in learning on your life journey? I’d love to hear. Please leave your comment below to share your tips in life’s learnings.

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