Finishing a project that you've been working on feels like...
* finishing a really good book
* watching the season finale
* the closing of a chapter in your life story
* your last day on vacation or holiday
... and so on.
This is more the case for long-term projects that take a few months, a year, maybe more. I'm not discussing the short-term quick projects here. In our instant-gratification, quick-turnaround, impatient society, there are so many of those available. This isn't the potboiler projects. The one-hour naptime projects. The get-it-done-in-a-day projects. The fast-service crafts. Yes, they're fulfilling, but not as fulfilling.
At the start of a project, it's like a fresh slate. It's a bit intimidating, but exciting. With this particular project I celebrated its beginning with friends and family, encouraging those present to lend a hand. Half the fun is in gathering your supplies, brain storming, sketching, etc. I often get stuck in this phase. I have so many ideas, but making them reality can be difficult.
And then you hit the middle, which feels something like this:
It's a period of growing pains, of frustration. Sometimes you have good moments, where you know where you're going with it and you're plowing ahead. Other times it's slow-going. Uncertainty creeps in, especially if it doesn't quite look the way you wanted it to. Sometimes boredom.
Sometimes you hide it because you can't stand looking at it for the time being. (The picture above is of my art studio - if you look closely, this table runner was rolled up on top of that clear tub on the bottom row. The tub itself, visibly quite full, is labeled WIP.) Sometimes it is so overwhelming that the thought of working on it is mentally exhausting. Sometimes you get mad at it. It's all part of the process. All of those things might not happen to everyone with every project, but they all happen at some point or another to anyone while working on them.
And then you near the end, the finish line in sight. The last mile of your marathon. Do you slow down and savor the moment? Do you take a pause, because even though you know you can finish it, you're afraid of saying you're done, in anticipation of what happens when you're done? Do you speed up the process, working on it any chance you find a free moment to yourself, possibly even well into the night, losing track of time? Are you all about the work or the finish line? Or do you self-sabotage because you're afraid of actually succeeding at something? Are you fearful of any criticism you might receive, potentially tarnishing your internal celebration of your personal successes?
You finish, and then it's over. A bittersweet moment, looking at your project in pride while simultaneously thinking "now what?" Feeling torn on starting something new (or finishing another project - many of us have a multitude of unfinished projects just waiting to be worked on), or taking a moment to relax, celebrate, and possibly even reflect on the personal growth that happened during the time you worked on it. Maybe you look at parts of it, remembering what was going on in your mind or your life while you were working on that section.
Have you ever wondered, while looking at someone else's work, what was the artist experiencing in their personal life while working on this piece? Were they mentally trying to process something? Working through some personal issues? Were they happy? Feeling nostalgic? Working out their anger? Processing sadness or grief? All of my projects have stories attached to them, even if they're not visible in the project itself, some of which will never be public knowledge. They're a visual diary of memories.
On a side note, while this project can be enjoyed on its own as a work in the style of folk art, there are three cards in the Tarot which are relevant to this piece, the project itself, and the process of working on a long-term project such as this as a whole: The Moon, The Sun, and The Star. The Moon represents uncertainty, walking through the dark and being guided by your intuition, much like the start of a new project and working through the difficult parts, unsure of where you're going with it. The Sun, peeking out from behind the moon, is one of confidence, of being able to see the path ahead of you. It lights the way as you near completion of your project. It's embracing it and giving everything you've got. The Star is one of fulfillment, of having endured hardships and entering a period of transformation. It's the completion of the project and the feelings associated with competing projects, the personal changes that come with it. This transformation can reflect your creative abilities and/or even any changes in your personal life that you experienced during the time you were working on your project. It's representative of a renewed sense of self-esteem, one which may plummet while in the midst of working on a project with seemingly no end in sight, but one that returns once that project is successfully completed. These were not things that were apparent to me at the start of this piece, but ones that I discovered upon completion and through reflection. They were not the intent - I simply love artwork depicting celestial bodies and frequently use them in my art - but a pleasant surprise.
And then it begins again. A new project, new experiences, new growth. Another trip around the sun and cycle through the seasons.