Experimentation can be scary. I certainly thought so when I was younger and starting out my art career. Experimentation meant I didn't know. It lead to messes and potential disaster. In some areas of my life the fear of experimentation led to a sort of reverse perfectionism. If I couldn't do something perfectly or even well, why even start?
The root of this aversion to experimentation – in art, in life, in meeting God – could be found in my early church experiences as a new believer. I was trained to know. To know scripture (for which I am very grateful), to know about God, to know how to effectively share your faith (any slip ups could send someone straight to hell), to know certain doctrines, to know a particular theology. It was all very cognitive. Any natural leanings I might have had toward a more mystic experience of God were viewed with alarm and dire warnings of emotionalism and being deceived.
Looking back, it's amazing God and I didn't give up on each other. To be honest, I did give up on God for awhile. It would be better expressed to say I gave up on His people and I sort of drifted away from community.
Somewhere along the way, a deep stirring started. No doubt it was stirred by God Himself. I was not going to be satisfied with just knowing about God – I was going to experience Him.
And so, my life of experimentation began. Experimenting in prayer, experimenting in seeing God in every moment, experimenting with books such as Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas to see how other people with different faith walks encountered God.
Now, I'm experimenting in the studio. Today I'm experimenting with a painting process I learned from Julie Quinn (http://www.juliequinnstudio.com/ ). I'm using elements of that process to create works that express fire. Last week I started a couple panels with less than satisfying results. Here's the thing I find interesting. Rather than feeling upset that I'm not getting the results I want, I'm finding the experimentation and discovery are fun.