5 June 2012
Art and Design, Professional, Teaching
Artist, artistry, self-training, sketch, sketching, Teaching
At its heart, design includes a way of thinking about the world that’s based in skills of perception. Writing — admittedly my favorite medium — doesn’t begin to capture how one must think in order to explain ideas. It’s possible for written ideas to lie: we can write false things in our language, as well as things that never were. We can also make pictures that lie — I remember being fascinated by dragon paintings as a child.
But both drawing and writing present us with tools to understand our world. It doesn’t take long to develop the mindset that you can be a good artist with practice — but first you must get over the hump that you believe is the mountain standing in your way: “I am not an artist.”
Which is a dumb thing to say. Are you a teacher? You draw things on the board every day. Your pretense that you are not an artist is getting in the way of your students’ success. Do you make your own worksheets? You’re a graphic designer. Do you make slideshows for your classes? Develop charts and graphs for your kids? Sorry: you are an artist.
It takes 2-3 months of weekly or daily practice for people to admire your sketches. You may never hang your work at MoMA or the Louvre, but you can wow a pre-teen audience with your sketches by next September, if you start today.
And then, when they say, “wow, I didn’t know you were an artist,” you’ll be that much more empowered to waking them up to their birthright as human beings — to be artists.
5 June 2012
discipline, energy work, force, no hurry, taiji
There’s no hurry.
Your taiji, or your belly dancing, or your yoga, or your dance, or whatever it is, won’t improve by leaps and bounds today. It will improve a minuscule amount, whether you practice hard or soft, fast or slow, for half an hour or for the whole day. No amount of rushing or fierceness today will make you more than an iota better than you were yesterday. Maybe not even so much as the dot on the iota (and since the Greek iota doesn’t have a dot, you’re really out of luck).
Instead, the improvements show up as a result of careful, unhurried, non-crisis-mode work. Today, a persistent knot in one of my hips popped. It may seem like an intense experience — a sound so loud, a feeling so releasing, I was startled. But — and this is huge — it didn’t happen today. Today was just the “fish slap” as the deep changes I’ve been working on broke the surface, around this one particular issue. The triumphant “oh!” that escaped my lips, felt like a moment of revelation.
But setting my expectation that this kind of revelation will happen every day just sets me, and my body, up for failure. Instead, relax and enjoy the experience of movement, of stretching, of feeling the muscle tense, of feeling the heart beat race a little, of feeling sweat on the small of your back. There’s no hurry. The muscle will pop when it wants to. The tension will release when it’s prepared to go snap like the loosed bowstring. The spine will straighten as the shoulders pull back to where they belong.
But there’s no hurry about any of this. These things can’t be rushed. You can’t be rushed. After all, when you’re up and at ‘em like this, you’re a force of nature: