It’s Just Bread With Different Yeast
What do you do when you want to get better at something, especially when you don’t have access to a teacher who can look over your shoulder and hold your hand? If you are anything like me, you muddle through. Maybe “learning by doing” is the best way to learn, but certainly not the easiest way. Still, it seems to be my way of approaching just about everything.
It’s been about a year since I first began growing sourdough starter and trying to make bread with it. Every time I tried to make a loaf, it would have some problem or another. There are so many variables such as ambient temperature, the frequency of feeding the starter, how much to feed it, the right consistency, the time it takes for the bread to rise, to knead or not to knead, one rise or two, to refrigerate the dough or not. I took copious notes on what worked and what didn’t work.
At some point I gave up completely and tossed the starter into the compost bin. Then some months later I grew some more starter. Then I made a few more attempts at making sourdough bread. Finally, it all came together and something clicked inside my head. I was trying too hard to make it be something different from regular bread. I finally realized it’s just bread with different yeast.
Finally, at long last, success was mine! I made a loaf for my neighbor. The next day I made a loaf for us. And now I have loaves of French bread made with regular yeast that I baked just this evening.
At some point there was a breakthrough of sorts. I finally became comfortable with the whole process and now I am free to be creative. Going through that somewhat agonizing learning process actually made me a better baker all around.
There is a lesson here somewhere. Just like with painting, or collage, or drawing, there is a common thread running through it all. It’s all your art, just different media.
I know that when I want to work in a new medium, suddenly everything feels strange and unfamiliar. Suddenly I’m poring over art books and instructions trying to figure things out intellectually. If I can, I go to workshop after workshop. I want to do it the “right” way. I attended three different collage workshops over a period of five years before finally settling down to decide how I wanted to express myself through collage.
Digital art is no exception. I consider digital art to be just another medium, so right now that’s my main focus. I’m trying to get familiar and comfortable with all of the tools. There are several programs that all have their own advantages and disadvantages. Each of them has something wonderful to discover.
I wish I had a teacher right now, someone who knows it all and could just sit down and tell me something that will open my mind to all the possibilities. But I can’t afford that kind of teacher. So my teacher is — well, myself. And online tutorials, of course. There are online tutorials for just about everything.
Even for bread.