I grew up little today. Jennie has been talking to me about proportions and aesthetics and having me read a little about the subject in Robin Hopper's book, "Functional Pottery". Learning is a slow process and fruits aren't seen until a real devotion to study happens. As I have listened to her and put the principles into effect in my pots (or at least tried to!), I have noticed the process of learning.
First, I grasp it intellectually. I hear her and understand what she is saying without knowing it, meaning, without having a personal experience with it. Then I see what she is saying as she shows me and understand it even further as I implement it.
Even as I work through it myself, my understanding shifts and grows. I may think I grasp the essentials at one point but then a little while later a pot will pose another question and a new light will shine on the lesson, one that I couldn't have envisioned myself... there is no rushing the learning process! There is immeasurable value in working through things and constantly giving yourself, what I used to tell my students, a pop quiz. Stopping and checking yourself, critically, to see if you have actually followed the criteria. You'd be surprised by what you catch.
I picked up some pots of mine from last fall. I was pretty proud of them then but knew something was off. They weren't quite right and I knew, as I looked at them last fall, that I was enjoying the surface of the pot more than the pot itself. As I held them in my hands today I could see! I saw beyond the surface to exactly why the pot didn't quite work. It was an exciting moment for me... and so I will be smashing some pots tomorrow!