Patience for the Learning Curve

Sunflower and bee at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens
Sunflower and bee at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens

This is the essence of Rembrandt’s advice to Van Hoogstraten:
the authentic craft develops naturally from one’s own experience.
So, it seems reasonable to suggest that the search should not be for the lost secrets,
but for one’s own practice. This is in fact easy, you start making things.
At first they might not be perfect, but the information here
should provide you with a running start. And, if you are cut out for this
the learning curve will not be daunting, because you will realize that
you are finally headed in the right direction: towards the living craft.
― Tad Spurgeon (Tad is an artist – his website can be seen here)

Yesterday’s post mentioned that I got a bit snippy with my favorite boy toy as he was showing me some of his equipment to try out.

I left that comment in there, because it reflected the reality of the moment.  We’ve done much better at sharing a passion for photography (see my post here), but at times we conflict.

But as I nurture my creativity, I remind myself that the learning curve is frustrating.  No matter how intelligent I am, when something is new, there’s just a certain amount of fumbling and floundering that goes with it.  The concepts are tried and true, but don’t always make sense until I’ve done it and failed.

I’ve written about it here and here, but it’s apparently a lesson I need to keep reminding myself about.

I see this at work lately.  I’m training some new people to work on the state income tax returns.  They’re experienced and knowledgeable, just not in my area.  They feel overwhelmed because the software is so different than what they work with, the best practices are different, and of course, my management style is different than the person they report to.  It’s not good or bad, just different.

I keep reminding them that they’ve been exposed to the concepts for years simply as we interact together as a department.  But the first few returns – no matter how easy – will take a long time to get done.  The later returns will be much harder, but not take as long to prepare.

So when I get frustrated and feel like some of this photography will never make sense, it’s time to take a breath, relax, and give myself a break.  The technique will improve with time.  My role is to listen, absorb, and practice, practice, practice.  And of course, not snip at my favorite boy toy.

To see everything I’m doing with my 31 Days of Nurturing My Creativity, click here.

To see what others are doing with their 31 Days project, click here.


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I am a backyard adventurer, philosopher and observer, recording my life in journals and photographs. Visit my blog at

16 Comments Leave a comment

  1. As a teacher, I connect with many of your ideas in this post. I am currently teaching my 92 year old grandmother how to use Facebook on her new Ipad (which is funny, because I am the only one in my family who doesn’t have one and I am learning right along with her) and she gets so frustrated when she can’t pick things up right away. I will have her read this post–I’m sure she will enjoy it!

    • So did you share this with your grandmother? Did it help encourage her?

      I love the humor that the two of you are learning together. Sometimes that really helps though. You probably wouldn’t do it without something like this to goad you into figuring it out. I find sometimes that really helps me get going and learning how to do something.

  2. I’ve trained a lot of people. It’s hard sometimes to teach in a way that makes sense for everyone – sometimes you have to find a new way to teach. Anyways, I love the 31 days project! Wish I had started it too! :) Ellie

    • That is true. I can’t teach everyone at work the same way. One of our directors – for whom I have a lot of respect – actually said to me that she best learns by just doing. She’d asked me to teach her something because it was easier if she could see if from me instead of reading it in the help screens. I could really sympathize with that!!

      I’m glad you’re enjoying the project. You could still a mini-15 day one of your own. You can’t link up anymore, but if you go to the first page of the 31 Days project, there is another link how to create badges using PicMonkey. Or start your 31 Days now and post for 31 days!

      I have made some new friend with this, so I’m glad I did it. That was unexpected and not one of my expectations either (actually, it was but I removed it in the transition from my paper journal to my blog post. I decided that really wasn’t the reason to be doing it).

      It has really motivated me though to sit every night and blog.


  3. I’d like to learn better to not snip as well! ;) And this very well describes the learning curve. There IS fumbling in learning and doing something new. Why we expect different from ourselves….I just don’t know. ;)

    • Because we think at this age it should be easier for us?

      I use some very expensive software at work (I mean like $100k expensive). My mantra is I can do Corptax. I should be able to learn Photoshop. I learned Corptax. I can learn Photoshop. I can do Corptax. Why can’t I do Photoshop??????

      And for some reason, the finer points in Photoshop continue to elude me. For Pete’s sake! I can file a return that’s several hundred pages on an extremely sophisticated system. Why is layers and masks so hard to do??

      • I am SO sorry to say this….but I am taking COMFORT from your struggle as well. I have struggled so much with photoshop and other editing tools. I know I’m not stupid. I have been using very basic tools (even though I already own software) through picmonkey. I’m not anywhere near passing that yet. Though I’m very pleased with what I’ve learned with it.

        We can do this. WE can do this. We CAN do this. CAN we do this????

  4. For me there is nothing more frustrating than learning new software.I can get very snarky. But once I know it, I wonder what all the fuss was about. We are all human I guess.

    • New software (and hardware) can make me just pound the desk in frustration, especially if it’s not designed very well or is buggy. But suffering through is the only way to learn it.

      Thanks for much for leaving me the comments! I’m so happy and thrilled for your support.

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