Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Still retreating but reading as I go!

From the mountains of North Carolina to coastal South Carolina.....

....and thankfully, due to excellent wifi here, I'm in communication with the outside world!  It's hard to realise it's just a few years ago that we never even thought about wifi and keeping an eye on the 'net. Now it feels essential.
Books are still the main source of wisdom, however, and I'm enjoying reading some of the ideas put forward by Maria Konnikova in her book: Mastermind: how to think like Sherlock Holmes.  She renames fast and slow thinking (the quick automatic intuitive vs the slower more analytical and considered) as Watsonian and  Holmsian and illustrates all her scientific examples with quotes from Conan Doyle - fun!    Sherlock Holmes instructs Dr. Watson to really observe as well as just see.    For example (don't look!) how many human figures did you see in the above picture and were any of them children?  Is this sunrise or sunset?

             The class I took last week was in Figure Painting which I quickly learned is all about observation: relative sizes, angled and curved lines, values, colors, texture and overall configuration of shape.  Plus' you have to compose those observations into an interesting shape within the outer edges of the picture plane.  I'd often wondered why in traditional art schools the students spent so much time on Figure Drawing - now I know it's not about the figure, it's all about accurate observation.  I can hear the strains of Holmes' violin as he nods in agreement!

 And now, to practice practice practice - I don't want to get to Carnegie Hall, but I do want to really see and understand and remember what I'm looking at..I want to break from "the autopiloted mind" which is helpful for split second reactions (as in leaping back when an alligator growled at me from where he was hidden under a bush I was approaching last night!) but not good for coming up with original fresh ideas and then arranging them in dynamic ways. 

  One other fascinating thing I read is that motivation really improves performance.  You can ask two identically experienced and talented people to do the same thing, if one is highly motivated they will outperform the other whether it's making art, learning a language or a scientific inquiry.  It makes sense, of course, but it's much more important than I had actually thought.  Motivation also improves memory..now where did I put that book down? !
So, if you have been, thanks for reading!!  Elizabeth

1 comment:

Sandy said...

Hi Elizabeth,
My husband got your design book for me for my birthday last week. So, as soon as Festival of Quilts is over, I am going to have a good read...and start a bit of practice!
Sandy in the UK