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Friday, November 4, 2011

The Zen of Composing

Don't let the noise of other's opinions
drown out your inner voice. -  Steve Jobs

Composing is about making decisions, but decision-making need not be limited to intellectual choices.  In fact, some of the best artistic decisions we make are intuitive.  After all, it's within our intuition where we find our inner voice.

Our intellect plays an important role in our learning the mechanics of how composing works and we need that; otherwise, our work would suffer.  In fact, those who would argue that learning composition principles is limiting are both misinformed and naive.  But we are not unlike Olympic champions who learn their craft, but preform their best when they depend upon their intuitions to exercise that craft.

And it is within our intuition where we make discoveries.  Our intellectual knowledge enables us to recognize, understand and communicate what we have discovered.  And it enables us to grow out of ignorance,  but without  intuition there would be no such thing as creativity.  There would be no scientific discoveries, no new inventions.  I would argue that the finest art grows out of both working together in balance.

But we need to acknowledge that too often artists fall into a trap of blocking intuition when we have to make judgments.  With our eyes tracking backwards while we're working, it's easy to deem what we have done inadequate.  Artist-author Frederick Franck has what I think is an approach towards breaking through this potential trap.

Franck's  Zen Seeing, Zen Drawing guides the artist past the self-critical phase into an attitude of mind where we respond to what we see without hanging ourselves up on whether we're getting it right.  He guides the reader through simple exercises that when practiced daily becomes a journey of seeing rather than just looking at our subjects.

The value of being able to do this, as I see it, is the freedom we can gain  from trying to make our work acceptable.  We lose that tendency of judging ourselves inadequate and therefore grow more confidence--confidence in our painting skills, confidence in the way we use them in composing, but most important of all, confidence in allowing access to our inner voice.

As as a sidebar:  With this week's One Artist's Journey post, I'm introducing my new association with Daily PaintWorks, an on-line sales gallery and auction website owned and managed by David Marine, husband of artist Carol Marine.  I'm excited about this new opportunity to make my paintings available for sale on a website of such integrity.

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