Monday, June 15, 2009
Journey People and Destination People
I read somewhere that there are two kinds of travelers; journey people and destination people.
Journey people don't have a schedule, are perfectly OK with detours, consider getting sidetracked an adventure, and love exploring new paths even if it means they reach their destination late, or not at all.
Destination people are focused on the goal. They want to get there as quickly and efficiently as possible, would never consider deviating from the planned route, and can probably tell you how many miles per hour they averaged on the way.
My daughter Courtney and I are both journey people. A few years back, when she was 14 and I was 36, we took a cross-country road trip together (Huntington Beach, California to eastern Pennsylvania). Being more of a destination person, John was worried about us, and I do admit taking the trip was against his wishes. But it was one of those things I'd always wanted to do, and knew if I didn't, I'd always regret it. We drove a VW Jetta, had no cell phone, and made the entire journey on about $500.
One of the fondest memories was late afternoon the first day out, in Arizona, when Courtney spotted a sign for a Winslow exit....
"We HAVE to stop!" she said excitedly, and I had to agree. The entire purpose of the stop was to call her Dad from a phone booth and tell him she was "standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona". Completely unplanned, didn't cost a thing but time and about three dollars in quarters, but a great memory.
This is the corner today. There was no statue at the time, which actually made it a lot cooler. ;)
Other detours included old route 66, shopping in Albuquerque, and exploring the craftsmanship of basket weavers in the Ozark mountains. Courtney navigated, I drove, we listened to Jackson Browne, the Indigo Girls and Tori Amos at full volume, saw some friends along the way, and generally had a great time.
I'm thinking about this journey vs. destination thing as regards the artistic process too....
Do you think the same principle applies?
I get asked pretty frequently "what are you working on now?", and I almost always answer with the name of the piece: "a sign" or "a tea box"..."a table"..."a chair". Which is often followed by "yes, but what are you painting on it?"
Which I'm sure sounds like a perfectly reasonable question to most people - You have a plan before you jump into something, right? You have it mapped out. You know where you're going and you know exactly how you'll get there.
To me (and I suspect other journey people) it's an impossibly frustrating question, and one for which I have no answer. How can I know for sure the direction a piece will take, until I'm finished, or at least very near the end of it?
Every once in a while (commissions for instance) I have a plan. But for the most part, painting is an adventure that evolves as it will, the little detours adding interest, and I'm pretty much just along to enjoy the ride. ;)
Here's one I have in progress sight now - a large storage bench (you can see it blank in the post below). Cloudy skies, a full moon, and a field of pumpkins for a little color. But beyond that, who knows?
I was thinking maybe a spooky graveyard scene, but then Merlin jumped up this morning and I was struck by his beautiful black coat against the sky, so now I'm thinking black cats somewhere. I'm also listening to gypsy music this morning, which may find it's way in there too...
And I'm curious.....are you a journey or a destination person?