Friday, May 25, 2012

Are You Transitioning?


Phase
Watercolor
Suzanne McDermott

Transition State

I don't know anything about chemistry except for what some symbols on the periodic table represent. Nonetheless, I learned today a bit about the Transition State, when a chemical reaction reaches the highest form of energy (assuming a perfectly irreversible reaction) that leads to a new form.

I do, however, know about transition. I might be an expert!

My father collected Arnold Toynbee's volumes of A Study of History as they were being published and one of my prized possessions is a letter from Toynbee to my father.

If my father wasn't talking to me about Shakespeare or music, he was explaining to me Toynbee's theory of civilization, not least of which was the idea of Challenge and Response. It's the point at which the creative class of a civilization either responds in a creative manner to a critical challenge or fails to meet the challenge, resulting in the stagnation or decay of that civilization.

When I read about the Transition State in chemistry, Toynbee immediately came to mind. The thing about Toynbee's theory is that he likened civilizations to the individual's experience in life — at least in my understanding.

This transition state is true for all creative endeavors. Whether you're making a drawing or watercolor, forming a new state, or moving from one phase of life to another. You simply can't snap your fingers and have a new form appear, or be different. You must go through a phase of transition.
“The interval between the decay of the old and the formation and the establishment of the new, constitutes a period of transition which must always necessarily be one of uncertainty, confusion, error, and wild and fierce fanaticism”John C. Calhoun
The reason I teach drawing and watercolor is not (necessarily) to transform people into artists but, rather, to guide students through the transitional work required to meet problems, solve problems, experience failure and yet, proceed to meet further challenges so as to grow and flourish.

It's all about transformation within. The result, on paper, is almost secondary. It's evidence. The resulting form of the transitional reaction within.

I think of life as school for the soul. We work through one phase, graduate, and then transition into the next phase. The transition states in life are challenging. But the rewards of the new form are worth every bit of the challenge.

When students truly take my lessons to heart, they use the opportunity to apply the experience of the drawing and watercolor exercises to their everyday lives. Life is the first art. That's where it really counts.

Transition this summer
and transform yourself in the process!




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1 comment:

PB said...

Suzanne, I don't know, at least in person, about the impact of your paintings, but your writing is terrific. Save it all and make a book one day. I thoroughly enjoyed 5.25's musings.

Bob in NH