Learning how to make the work is one of the primary aspects of a creative life. It might even be right to say that it is the whole point. Every drawing, painting, or project involves learning: learning how colors mix or work together, learning how a new material goes down on the paper, learning what the work is about, learning the ways that I work best (or the ways I don’t!), and on and on. I am fairly certain (and I tell my adult drawing students) that if one ever feels as though it is all figured out, understood, and under control then that is the time to worry, because the work will die – quite literally cease to be alive. Making art (and I mean here all creative efforts) is messy and uncomfortable stuff, and that awkward and unfamiliar place, that is where the learning and the life reside.

Beginning a new project often involves an especially steep curve for learning how to make the work. And it is not unusual to encounter the conundrum that it is difficult to begin without knowing what the work is/is about, but one can’t know what the work is without beginning. Apparently this puzzle can be just as true for a collaboration as for a solo project. My friend Kasey (a poet) and I have just begun working on a collaboration that we know very little about. Actually, our conversation began about two years ago, and finally we have begun to trade bits (my scraps and scans of fragments) and pieces (Kasey’s word combinations) as a way to learn how we will make this work and have this conversation. This is a lovely way to roll into the New Year: a delightful adventure with a dear friend as fellow traveler!

Read more about our bits and pieces at Kasey’s blog ( and find other treasures there as well! The images above are some of the bits that I sent Kasey, and you can see them in the photo on her blog as well.