One of the guys I mentor is in life setup mode and is juggling an incredible amount of obligations and hobbies. When I observed this, he asked me to list them…and was surprised to hear such a long list.
Yup. Sometimes we boil away in the pot and don’t realize how overwhelmed we are.
This reminds me of a quote from Oprah: “You can have it all. Just not all at once.”
There is time to dig deep into many things in our lives, but scattering our energy all at once doesn’t allow deep diving, potentially creating dissatisfaction. Embrace the seasons for what t
Which brings me to this wonderful poem that Austin Kleon shared awhile back. Substitute anything you enjoy for the three…and then choose two.
You Want a Social Life, With Friends
by Kenneth Koch
You want a social life, with friends.
A passionate love life and as well
To work hard every day. What’s true
Is of these three you may have two
And two can pay you dividends
But never may have three.
Though dawn begins, yet midnight ends–
To find the time to have love, work, and friends.
Michelangelo had feeling
For Vittoria and the Ceiling
But did he go to parties at day’s end?
Homer nightly went to banquets
Wrote all day but had no lockets
Bright with pictures of his Girl.
I know one who loves and parties
And has done so since his thirties
But writes hardly anything at all.
https://www.traipsingabout.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/Which-way.jpg20481536Dakotahttps://www.traipsingabout.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Traipsing-About-logo-white-background-450x156.pngDakota2022-05-11 20:33:592022-05-11 20:34:01Juggling It All
I recently read the art instruction book Drawings Lessons from the Great Masters. Via examples from art legends like Davinci and Rembrandt, the author demonstrates how the masters approached creating art.
My biggest takeaway: they rarely drew exactly what they saw. They’d leave out shade on an upper lip from a nose because created a mustache, omit the tip of an ear for a tilted head portrait, or create light sources from nowhere.
Beginners, on the other hand, often aim to copy exactly. The author uses the example of a student drawing a nude model…complete with the shadow on her chest from a cat asleep on the skylight!
Beyond drawing, this makes me think of general creative expression. With piano, I aim to learn a piece true to the tempo and dynamic markings of the composer. But when I play the piece, I often vary the piece depending on my mood. With writing, I often break Grammar Rules to fit my voice or to be bombastic. (HEY, IT’S MY NEWSLETTER!)
This “bend the rules” approach works with storytelling too. Who sticks exactly to what happened? *yawn* People enjoy stories for the lessons they contain or the entertainment, not for 100% factual regurgitation of an event.
Try it out with your creative projects! Take it from Davinci…he knew stuff.
https://www.traipsingabout.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/Portuguese-train.jpg8151080Dakotahttps://www.traipsingabout.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Traipsing-About-logo-white-background-450x156.pngDakota2022-04-07 09:40:002022-05-08 08:51:36Lessons in creativity from the great masters
For one, our brains lie to us all.the.time. They tell us that the eye line for faces is higher than reality. That eyes are ovals, that ears are squished up tight to the face for profile drawings.
My skill development plateaued around week 2-3. I wish it simply coincided with being siiick of drawing old dead guys, but I think it was because I was just doing drawings vs deliberate practice and exercises to improve my beginner skills.
I’m slowly working on overcoming left brain bias via Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, but I simply didn’t dedicate enough time to the exercises. There are still so many basics I need to focus on to continue improving:
Perceiving negative space
Positioning of facial features
Sighting (aka measuring relative sizes of things and transferring it to a drawing)
Light logic (aka shading, but I sound cooler using art expressions)
Moving forward, I’m planning do follow his example and do the following:
Study drawing techniques and practice them.
Do multiple quick sketches to improve placement of facial features.
Overlay drawings on the original image to compare them.
Not draw only composers. Maybe I’ll do a mountain biker series?
To be fair, I drew Taylor Swift and a self-portrait. The latter will be a good reference point for future development, even if it annoys me that my eyes are too narrow, my jaw too square, and so on. Baby steps…
All in all, this was a useful, enjoyable challenge that yielded solid improvement with only 30-45 minutes a night of effort. A benefit is that I’d listen to each artist’s work while I drew, so I exposed myself to new work.
When we’re infants, our brain hemispheres are not clearly specialized for different functions. That “lateralization” for left and ride brain doesn’t complete until age nine or ten.
This coincides with when kids start obsessing about “getting it right” and become sharply critical of their earlier drawings. They start regarding failure as anything less than perfect realism. I HATE THIS HORSE!!! *paper crumpling*
“Discontented with their own accomplishments and anxious to please others with their art, they tend to give up original creation and personal expression. Further development of visualizing powers and even capacity for original thought may be blocked at this point. It is a crucial stage beyond which many adults have not advanced.”
Miriam Lindstrom, Children’s Art
Not surprisingly, many kids abandon art completely at this age. And when adults are asked to draw many years later, they often generate work at a 9-10 year old level.
This is SO sad. How many blossoming Picassos and little Mikey d’Angelos have stopped making art because they couldn’t draw a perfect horse? Perhaps even worth, how many billions of people curtailed personal creativity at that age and never returned?
Guess who also stopped making art at that age? Yup. ME. Oh, and I even have two parents with advanced art degrees! Instead, I pursued athletics, scholastic achievements, and Warcraft 2 or Mario Kart proficiency.
It’s Never Too Late
In case it’s not obvious, I’m not sharing my amateur beginner drawings for extrinsic validation. Nope, I’m merely hoping to demonstrate that anyone, even left-brain dominant engineers like me, possesses a font of creativity to draw, play music or whatever strikes your fancy.
We don’t need to sell (or even share) our work. The rewards are intrinsic and so palpable. Instead of passive consumption of media, we can create something that didn’t exist. How cool is that!
As I’m scratching away at a portrait each night this month, I’m experiencing the glorious melting of time. It’s marvelous: My right brain takes over and my Type A productivity self disappears into the background. The same thing happens when I look up from piano practice to discover an evening has zinged by unnoticed.
Here’s to turning off that decades-old criticism that your 10-YO self perhaps experienced. Give it another chance. Order some watercolors. Buy a sketchbook. Start a blog. Sign up for piano lessons.
You won’t find perfection (ever). But perfect is boring. The magic lies in the process, the ritual of creating.
Any eight-year-old kid knows that’s true.
Dig these kinds of posts? Sign up for the free Traipsing About newsletter to level up your life around outdoor adventures, creativity, and travel. And drawings, of course!
https://www.traipsingabout.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Drawing-age-4-scaled.jpg25082560Dakotahttps://www.traipsingabout.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Traipsing-About-logo-white-background-450x156.pngDakota2022-01-19 20:13:222022-01-25 20:02:00Rediscovering the right side of my brain
Who knows how long I’ll continue…for now, it’s fun brainstorming ideas and I crack myself up executing the actual drawing. Plus, it’s honing (or maybe wrecking?) my drawing skills by practicing ridiculous dinosaurs!
Click on the first image for full size and scroll on through. Got ideas for more T. Rex fails? I’m all ears.
By the way, dig these kinds of posts? Sign up for the free Traipsing About newsletter to level up your life around outdoor adventures, creativity, and travel. And a weekly T. Rex drawing, of course.
All The T. Rexes
https://www.traipsingabout.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/T.-Rex-1-scaled.jpg25602560Dakotahttps://www.traipsingabout.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Traipsing-About-logo-white-background-450x156.pngDakota2021-12-29 20:45:562022-01-25 19:58:42A year of T. Rex drawings
Have you ever considered sharing your thoughts publicly via a newsletter, blog, podcast, or vlog? Based on my experience doing so, I can heartily say make. it. happen.
Publishing Traipsing About for the past eight years has added so much richness to my life. Almost 100 newsletters and 200+ blog posts in, things just keep getting better. (By things, I mean my T. Rex drawings, not my jokes.)
I have good friends who initially found me through Traipsing About. A cousin I’d never met randomly read my Italian citizenship blog post and I discovered a whole side of my family I didn’t know existed! (Pretty sure they’re New Jersey Italian mafia.)
An extra bonus: writing consistently keeps me connected with friends and family. They witness my antics and keep tabs on me even when kids and jobs make staying in touch difficult. It sparks email exchanges and connection. Sure, Facebook and Instagram kiiiinda work, but it’s not the same depth as longer-form media.
There’s power in putting thoughts down and sharing them publicly. It clarifies things in a way that a private journal sometimes can’t.
I’ve gained so much from following others who also share their thoughts and struggles, so it’s satisfying to be part of that great internet diaspora and pay it forward.
I also love getting random emails from you when I share things I’ve screwed up learned. It fascinates me how my personal experience with money, travel, relationships, or social media use can impact someone if it hits them at the right time.
People want to hear what you’re thinking. Put it out there! Substack has free newsletters, podcasting can be done with a $40 microphone, YouTube only requires a smart phone, Twitter takes 37 seconds to sign up…
What better time than now?
https://www.traipsingabout.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Driving-a-dock.jpg15502068Dakotahttps://www.traipsingabout.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Traipsing-About-logo-white-background-450x156.pngDakota2021-12-15 21:50:072021-12-29 20:54:38The power of sharing your thoughts online