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Creativity is More Important than Hard Work

 
 
shepaints
 
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Reply Tue 8 Mar, 2005 01:21 pm
I suppose LW, that some of the most creative
people are also the hardest workers....

I have always enjoyed the art of Charles Reid. I watched a video of him demonstrating his watercolour techniques. He mentioned that he
had painted acres and acres of watercolours before arriving at his level of virtuosity.... His work is seemingly effortless and endlessly creative, but based on years of practice and experimentation...
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Miklos7
 
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Reply Tue 8 Mar, 2005 02:12 pm
In Boston last week, we saw an exhibition at the Sackler of Japanese and Chinese calligraphy. Talk about acres of painting before arriving at the seeming spontaneity of movement and the grace of form that combine into virtuoso expression. Serious apprenticeships in this art often stretched over decades of intensive practice. The masters of this art sometimes developed a highly-attenuated script form of the characters that endowed them with a large aesthetic presence, but left them only ghosts of literal meaning. I have not a clue about reading these languages, but I can imagine the joy for the audiences who can sense literary art on the verge of flowering into purely visual art. These scrolls of calligraphy are a powerful double example of the transformative nature of hard work. First, the calligrapher breaks through into art; then, he or she pushes onward into a kind of synaesthesia. My wife and I were blown away.

Shepaints, thanks so much for the reference to Carles Reid. I'm on my way to trying to watch the video online.
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Vivien
 
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Reply Tue 8 Mar, 2005 02:38 pm
I think all these alternative answers are examples of lateral thinking - an essential for originality. Some people think in a very linear way.

Charles Reid is an interesting painter - I think he maybe has developed a bit of a formula himself but I like the way he works. I've seen some of his books and a video but no recent work so I may be being unfair here.

Definitely creativity withers if unused - when going back to painting after a gap when my daughters were young I was horrified at how I'd 'lost' it - the knowledge returned with hard work relatively quickly but at first it just wasn't there.

At the beginning of the degree we were told that it would be 10% talent and 90% hard work - obviously we'd all shown some talent to be accepted but that isn't enough.

Think of Picasso's prolific work load.
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Miklos7
 
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Reply Wed 9 Mar, 2005 08:39 am
In the summers here, there are a number of world-class chamber musicians who teach (and give concerts) at the Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival. One of the violinists told me that, when her children were born, she stopped playing and teaching for six years. She was very surprised that she didn't miss it--and assumed that, perhaps, she had wanted to be done with the intense life of heavy practicing, teaching, and traveling. Not so. One day, she suddenly HAD to play again. It was an imperative. And she wanted to play at a high level again. AND, once she got there, she wanted to keep improving. She, literally, took her violin out of the closet, tuned it, and prepared her bow. The moment she held the instrument, the music was in her head, but she couldn't begin to reach it with her very rusty technique. It took two years of constant practice, with coaching from musician friends, to recover her skills. At that point, she again became capable of improvisation (although chamber pieces would seem quite set, the best performers always improvise, to keep the sound live and developing). She allowed that being a stay-at-home mother with a full practice schedule was a killer, but, even if she needed to work late into the night, she was determined. The remarkably happy ending is that, in addition to recapturing her own career, she spends some of her travel time concertizing with her husband--an extraordinary clarinetist--and, recently, with their children, who have developed into talented professionals. There's another interesting topic here--the lives of children who grow up with artist-parents.

Vivien, when you took up your work again, could you feel what you wanted to do but found your technique no longer up to it--like Lucy, the violinist? If so, this must be terribly frustrating. Did knowing that you previously had the technique encourage you to work hard to regain it--or did you feel as if you were almost starting from scratch?

When I have, several times in my life, been too busy to work on my own writing for a while, I feel a tremendous inertia that I must overcome before I can reconnect. But, once I have pushed hard for a time, I sense the skills I feared forgotten begin to come back, first slowly, then more rapidly. It's that first long effort that's the real bear. And the longer I've been away, the larger and blacker the bear! Is this at all similar to what you experienced when you went back to painting?

Inevitably, it seems, an artist's life will have significant interruptions. Seeing how hard it can be to begin the practice of an art again, I wonder what the drop-out rate might be. My hunch is that the number who give up in frustration is small, because, once discovered and practiced, an artistic talent so strongly wants to keep being expressed. What do you all think?
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shepaints
 
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Reply Wed 9 Mar, 2005 12:09 pm
Miklos, your description of the effects and your
impressions of the Sackler of Japanese and Chinese calligraphy show is intensely vivid. It is hard for me to imagine that you would have any difficulty in returning to your writing after an
absence.

I suppose the creative imperative is always there,
whether it is being suppressed or expressed. It is
hard to recover skills and even more so, confidence, after a long absence, but perhaps
creativity can also be transferred to other avenues
for expression.

I worked for some years as an art teacher, and
came across only about 5 students who truly surpassed their peers in a significant way in terms of sheer talent and creativity. Others also made it to further art careers through sheer dedication and a single-minded desire to learn.

Creativity/hard work....a fine balance.
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Vivien
 
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Reply Thu 10 Mar, 2005 02:30 am
Miklos7 wrote:


Vivien, when you took up your work again, could you feel what you wanted to do but found your technique no longer up to it--like Lucy, the violinist? If so, this must be terribly frustrating. Did knowing that you previously had the technique encourage you to work hard to regain it--or did you feel as if you were almost starting from scratch?
....
When I have, several times in my life, been too busy to work on my own writing for a while, I feel a tremendous inertia that I must overcome before I can reconnect. But, once I have pushed hard for a time, I sense the skills I feared forgotten begin to come back, first slowly, then more rapidly. It's that first long effort that's the real bear. And the longer I've been away, the larger and blacker the bear! Is this at all similar to what you experienced when you went back to painting?



Miklos - yes, when I started painting again it was like wading through treacle! I knew what I should have capable of - and it just wasn't happening. I had changed direction towards landscape from design/life/still life with only some landscape but even so .... it took hard work to regain what I'd had and then it flowed back. It did give me a good foundation of understanding to build on though.

That awful intertia after a gap - oh yes I know it well! there is I think a slight element of fear of 'can I still do it?' if the gap is long and you need time to retune to your own personal issues in painting. Exactly like a musician I'd say.

The similarities between performance and problems in music and art are very close with traditional painting being more like classical music - with rules, that like your violinist can be played with but in a smaller way and abstracted work that is more like jazz, evolving in relation to itself as well as its subject, colours or marks put down because the painting needs it to 'speak' to another part of the painting.


shepaints - it's lovely when you have a student with real natural ability isn't it?
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Miklos7
 
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Reply Thu 10 Mar, 2005 10:25 am
Vivien, Your comparisons of painting and music are wonderful! I particulary admire your visualization of the jazz-painting,

"evolving in relation to itself as well as its subject, colors or marks put down because the painting needs it to 'speak' to another part of the painting."

WOW! That's brilliant. When jazz musicians write about their art (the first Louis Armstrong memoir is a great read, by the way), they are so often talking about the conversational aspect of playing--they converse with themselves as well as other players, and, frequently, the mood is competitive, to push the limits of their artistic expression.

About restarting after a gap: yes, I too feel fear involved in the inertia. I suppose fear would be an almost certain component of the restarting process, because the art means so much. If it didn't, there would be no imperative to reconnect and, therefore no apprehension. I know that musicians, even very good ones, suffer from epidemic performance anxiety. So, I'm sure that you are correct. Maybe, I wasn't acknowledging the fear element because I didn't want to own up to it. Typical male strategem!

Shepaints, Thank you for the nice compliment. I assure you that, from time to time, my writing skills do rust!

In 30 years of teaching writing, I, too, met only a handful of naturally gifted students. These few teenagers had, invariably, been writing constantly since an early age. Had your exceptionally imaginative students been drawing or painting since they were little? It has always fascinated me that there are no prodigies in painting or writing, as there are in music. Advanced ability is music can be close to innate. But, advanced ability in painting or writing develops only after years of work. Perhaps, predisposition to excellence in music involves different brain circuitry from that involved in a predisposition to excellence in writing and painting. I'll bet there's a common factor, however: creativity that is strong enough to drive one to expression.
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shepaints
 
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Reply Fri 11 Mar, 2005 08:43 am
Miklos, two of the five outstanding students that I taught had artist parents. They had spent much time in the studios of their parents and discussing art. Their work was mature, methodical and they submitted art work in response to assignments, not art exercises. The other three had innate, but unschooled talent.

When I taught painting, I handed out rectangular pieces of paper to the students for various exercises. Only once do I recall a student cutting the paper into an oval before handing it in. He thought that shape was more complementary to the painting he had produced.
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Vivien
 
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Reply Fri 11 Mar, 2005 01:12 pm
shepaints wrote:
Miklos, two of the five outstanding students that I taught had artist parents. They had spent much time in the studios of their parents and discussing art. Their work was mature, methodical and they submitted art work in response to assignments, not art exercises. The other three had innate, but unschooled talent.

.


I think that is the equivalent of the musical prodigies - they came from musical families and had started learning an instrument formally at a very young age. Art is not taught formally at that age to the same degree - it is looked on as a 'fun' activity I feel and high standards and thought are often not considered.

Incidentally I have read the whole of the art essays and part of the memoirs miklos and loved them! I only got them yesterday! I love your original thought processes and visual descriptions - things come alive as I read. Thank you. I'll re-read them later more slowly but I couldn't put them down!
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