So, last night I was at an event at an art gallery on an island outside Charleston. I was on the planning/event committee for this thing, so I had the pressure of making sure to schmooze with all the guests, right? I ended up in a conversation with the artist who was speaking at the event and another artist who showed up. (The second guy is an architectural artist — you know, where you see illustrations of buildings with the label “artist rendering” — he does that.) So we’re discussing different types of medium and such and they both said several things that were intriguing … I think you’ll see why. The illustrator was telling me how he and the main artist were going to get together and do some en plein air (meaning painting out in the open air). He told me that he likes to dabble in other mediums because it makes his illustrative work better. He said, “Of course. By trying my hand at these other kinds of art it only makes mine that much better.”
So, that’s interesting, right? Here’s a guy who understands that the more variety of experiences he has in the art realm, the better his own particular field will be. His bread and butter (and first love) is illustration, but he realizes that by doing watercolor landscapes he can make his first love even richer. He said, “I’m not very good at the watercolor and acrylics, but I know when I come back to my illustrations it makes me even better!” I know this guy is very good … I saw some of his stuff.
So, think about it. You maybe LOVE smooth dancing and want to spend all your time focused on getting your waltz just perfect. But, maybe you should try dabbling into some Rumba or Shag or even Ballet. You might be surprised at how those dances will help your smooth program!
Have you ever gone contra-dancing? Talk a spirited bunch of people having a great time … there’s something about the live bluegrass, the combined energy of the crowd, the multiple partners — the excitement is infectious. Having trouble showing some energy on the dance floor — look up your local contra dance for this weekend and GO!
Back to the conversation, don’t worry, I’m coming to the 90/10. So we’re chatting away about art and the speaker for the event says — and I must insert here that it was pretty charming … he had a streak of brown paint on his neck and up behind his ear and he was completely oblivious. The gallery owner said to me how much artists walk around completely unaware of the paint they have splattered in random places about their person. I thought, how cool to be so immersed in their work that they carry it around with them. How many of you have done a little cha cha lock-step down the aisle in the grocery store because it just seemed like the right thing to do? Guilty. — so, the speaker says, “You know it’s the 90/10 rule.” And he starts chuckling. He continues, “When you’re in your first years painting only about 10% of your strokes are any good. The other 90% are terrible. The more you paint the ratio starts to flip-flop.” He laughed again. “The best way to learn how to fix those bad 90% is to have a huge stack of canvases and just keep filling them up. Eventually your strokes will improve. You just have to want to do the work to get them there.”The illustrator laughed, “Most people who think they want to be artists stay around 10/90 because they don’t want to have to do the work to switch it to 90/10.”
The artist-speaker, “Yes, and there will always be those 10% strokes that aren’t good. You have to learn to live with that. Artists will always be tweaking, because nothing is ever perfect.”
The illustrator, “People are artists because they HAVE to be. And so they fill up the canvases over and over and over again. It doesn’t matter at what age you start or how long it takes you to get there, you just know you HAVE to do it.”
Nods all around.
You get the application here, right? It takes lots of time and practice to create good brush strokes. So, too, with dancing. It’s thousands of basic box-step to get it “good” — it will never be “perfect.” It’s fun to think about applications to our dancing from other art disciplines and just everyday life. Sometimes, something takes a while to sink in and we have to hear it a number of different ways before we “get” it.
E.M. Forster wrote, “A work of art is never finished. It is merely abandoned.” I’ve heard stories of artists who have gone into homes or galleries that have their artwork hanging and have asked to get it back to touch up something. They take it home to work on it and it doesn’t get returned because the artist is never satisfied, there’s always something else that can be better. If you’re not satisfied with your dancing — that’s OK, you’re in good company — get back to working on those basic “brush strokes.” If you think your dancing is good — even great … ummm …