Friday, November 2, 2012

Practice, Practice, Practice

 Twice a week, Robert Glenn's Twice-Weekly Letter arrives in my email in-box. I confess, in times of stress and deadlines,  I unwisely sometimes just delete it. Mostly though I peruse it and mentally thank Mr. Glenn for his thought provoking ideas.

This week's second letter was no exception. He sketches out a brief history of two artists - one highly educated,very serious about his art but not very prolific, his income not derived from his art; the other is less educated, highly prolific, and very successful in terms of gallery representation and income flow from her art.

Then he offers the following story from  David Bayles and Ted Orland's Art and Fear:
The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of the work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: On the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work in the "quantity" group: fifty pounds of pots rated an "A", forty pounds a "B" and so on. Those being graded on "quality," however, needed to produce only one pot--albeit a perfect one--to get an "A". Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of the highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the "quantity" group was busy turning out piles of work--and learning from their mistakes--the "quality" group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.
 I have noticed in my own work that early on I hesitated and often had a lengthy debate with myself of options for a particular art quilt as I was creating it. At some point, I realized that I would probably progress faster if I stopped debating and just quilted. Interestingly but not surprisingly, the quality of my work increased significantly the more art quilts I made.

This is not to say that an appreciation of design and formal art study is unnecessary. If anything, the more I quilt, the more I appreciate and read material on design. It simply speaks to the simple truth that practice and doing is essential to growth. This is true in most disciplines. I have been teaching the art of aikido for over 20 years. I can demonstrate for students an effective way to execute a technique but the only way they will be able to do it is by practice, practice, practice.

Guess it is time to stop writing and get back to the sewing machine!


1 comment:

  1. I appreciate Genn's letters as well. I must have missed this one you speak of...terrific!