Archive for May 15th, 2011

New York City.  A driver in his car shouts to a pedestrian on the sidewalk: “How do I get to Carnegie Hall?”  The guy says, “Practice.”

It’s a well-known joke.  But it’s not a joke.  That really is IT.  Practice!

Funny thing, though, everybody knows this about music, but when it comes to moving a pencil around, fuhgedaboudid.  Would you sign up for piano lessons and then not practice all week and just come in for your lesson?  Of course not!  But there’s something about the ordinariness of a pencil and a piece of paper, not to mention the ordinariness of a pile of pots or the ordinariness of your left hand or the ordinariness, even, of your face in a mirror, that makes you think this has got to be easy.  So when I say, “practice during the week!”  my students look at me as if my voice came out of the moldy 12th century or any other alien worldview you can name.

Imagine my delight when I get to see the homework my drawing student Karen G. brings to class every week to show me.  Not homework, really, I don’t assign it.  She just carves out time every week to draw.  She draws the throw over a chair.  She draws the skirting around a little table.  She draws drapery. And lo and behold…drapery drawing can be learned and her progress in that skill is evident.  Seeing the intricacy of shadow-light-reflected-light becomes easier and faster with practice.  (See post about reflected light, April 24, 2011.)

This practice business actually puts you in good company.  How did Leonardo da Vinci spend his time? Errmmm….he practiced.  In art history, these drawings are called “studies.”   If the word “practice” sounds too severe or uncomfortable to you, you can use more elevated language.  You can silence your ring tone and tell yourself that for the next hour you’re engaged in making a work called, “Study of Drapery.”  Hey, play word games to make it easier, tell yourself jokes, whatever gets you to “Carnegie Hall.”

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.




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