Friday, May 11, 2012
"The Man Behind the Curtain" Club
My favorite quote of all time* comes from David Laffel in the part of his book titled, "Attitudes that can hold you back."
He says, "I want to say a word about the attitude of intense admiration that many students have for 'artists,' an emotion that merely serves to separate the two and further delay progress. Such students tend to revere the great painters in museums as "gods" and "geniuses." They feel small in comparison and think they can never be as good.
"Their admiration keeps them from actually seeing the work of these men, these painters who were just people trying to solve problems.
"You can be just as good as one of the artists. It depends on how much work you are willing to put into your art, how much frustration you are willing to bear.
"Talent is the willingness to figure it out. It's not a mystical or metaphysical thing. It's the ability to relinquish all your assumptions and conceits in order to learn."
My favorite moment in studying art comes after studying an artist so hard your brain is bleeding and then you finally have the epiphany where you see that they are NOT GODS! They are working with techniques of illusion just like everyone else, to create something beautiful. The question then becomes, 'are you willing to join the club?"
It can be jarring at first, and I find it interesting to watch how people respond when faced with this discovery. Do we admit the physical realities driving the art universe? Or do we discount the few moments we see beyond the curtain as accidents or exceptions, and go on searching for the gods of art, determined to continue as students, rather than join the "seers."
Obviously painting is not the ideal that everyone pursues. And yet I think it true enough to assume all of us have some kind of "majic" that we are pursuing, hindered by the belief that we can never be "that good." Or that the answers lie outside of ourselves.