Well, I had the best intentions with this drawing. But as they say, “The best laid plans of mice or men…”

This however, does give rise to a curiosity, and allows us to discuss perfection. With the boys that I coach, I expect that they will always do their best. Why would you not want to? My instructions to them are to do their best in practice, in an attempt to achieve perfection. I tell them, “Hopefully, when you go to another gym for a meet, you will be able to perform well there, just as you have here.” In other words, perfect practice is the preface to perfect performance; but not always a guarantee. I don’t fault them for bad practice, if they are listening, (i.e. trying to learn how to get better) and trying as hard as they can.

It seems that in art we have never been able to see that simple logic. We always feel that we must produce a masterpiece like Michelangelo every time. When I draw, I feel I must draw perfectly like Bouguereau every time…even though Bouguereau wasn’t perfect every time. It is funny that the latitude that I extend to my boys is never present in my own self criticism. I don’t allow myself to try a new trick and fail, even if it was my first time. I don’t see the effort as being the goal like my boys, but rather my goal has been perfect execution. I have come to see that my esteem of my own growth, development, and mastery is stymied by my own lack of self-patience. This is what has burdened me all these years in art; the inability to see that art is just like any other preoccupation. You must practice hours a day at anything you want to be the best at. But, it must be thinking practice.

Yesterday, I was talking with a parent who is a very accomplished violinist. She plays for the SF Ballet, Symphony, etc. She also teaches. She pointed out that those who just practice, without the self discipline to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate their practice and performance are those who never learn to play non-mechanically in music. It is those higher-order thinking mechanisms that allow us to grow, improve, and develop a greater respect and love for our product and our craft.

So, above is a bad drawing. But…I learned from it. Is it shame to put out bad work? To post it on the internet? In many people’s book, yes. Screw it. This is my progress, warts and all.

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