Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Importance of Attention and Practice in Creating Art

I've started reading Creativity for Life by Eric Maisel. During the book's Introduction, the author touches upon the importance of attention and practice since they play are such integral pieces of living the creative life. I tell my high school students all the time that without practice they will always be frustrated in their attempts to get better at drawing what they see, mixing the colors that they want, molding the clay into the correct shape and manipulating the pen tool in Adobe Illustrator. Working hand-in-glove with skills practice, the art student must learn how to be mindful of the World around him/her.
Presently, I am teaching my Intro to Painting students some simple drawing skills before we launch into still life. So, we discuss simplifying images into basic shapes before rounding out corners and adding the details. We also address relationships: how does one object relate to another? Is it taller or shorter? Is it fatter or thinner? How can we use negative space to help us record what we see? The questions go on. It is initially overwhelming for them but I want to demonstrate to them the necessary self-talk to help them achieve their goals.
Truth be told, I didn't start reading the book for my students. Rather, I am reading it for myself. When Dr. Maisel talks about attention, he's not meaning a classroom setting per se. I've extrapolated his meaning because I do believe it speaks equally powerfully to students in a high school setting.
In the final analysis, Dr. Maisel wants to remind ME of the many ways I've allowed my art to be put off because of the many facets of my so-called busy life.
If your truth is that your life is out of control and creativity is just one of the many things that you aren't attending to, stand up and admit that to yourself, even if it means that you must change everything. Nor can you do this truth telling just once or twice: you need to do it today, tomorrow, and forever. (pg. xviii)

What I've read so far is just what the doctor ordered (no pun intended).

What materials do you use?

I was originally trained with traditional oils. I moved on to alkyd oils because I liked the fact that they dried more quickly but still pro...