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Thread: Dabbling in infancy

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    East Freeetown, Massachusetts

    Dabbling in infancy

    I love the creativity of some of the stuff I see out there in webland.

    I ran across this one today, and I am just amazed at the level of skill, creativity and artistic ability.

    Sometimes I feel like I just cannot get my feet off the ground.

    What does it take to get there?

    Am I so confined in my engineering background of gray, steel, straight lines and symmetry that I have been locked into confinement?

    How can I break away? Dan says to surround yourself in creativity. I am trying, but it still seems like I just get nowhere.

    Ahhhh - but as Robert Frost said.

    "The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Parker County, Texas
    Leo, don't feel bad. You are not alone. People who do that kind of art are in a class of there own, and I am not in i. I think I do some pretty nice work but nothing like that. Amazing work!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Escondido, CA
    Years ago I took an art class at my community college. It was about composition, color, and space. That opened doors for me, not that I am artistic by any means, but I have a better idea of how to produce some artistic things. Basically the work in the class was learning to recognize art concepts in the world around us and then using paper and scissors compose posters of our own ideas. It was not as spacey as you might think. Some pretty amazing stuff appeared from some not so artsy folks. The class was intended for the non-artistic who wanted to open their minds. There was also some pencil and paper work. It was fun and really pretty helpful. Also, the art instructor was a woodworking hobbyist! Bonus!

    Some say the land of milk and honey; others say the land of fruits and nuts. All together my sort of heaven.

    Power is not taken. It is given. Who have you given yours to? Hmmmm?

    Carol Reed

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    GTA Ontario Canada
    Leo as Dave said u not alone on this.
    I agree with Carol. Go to art class. Just the way engineers get trained so to can artists.
    There are those that are what I call natural artists that then get training and become in a league of their own, take Dave Hawks ford and his skills, but I watched my own mother start at age where one would be close to saying, "you cannot teach and old dog new tricks" and yet she progressed to the point of amazing me right up to the point where I purchased one of her pictures and not because I was looking to support her because she was family but because the picture at the exhibition was worthy on its own.
    She had a few bits of luck going for her. Her friend she used to paint with was a tremendous artist and they would critique her results.
    She did attend a art class and get the basics, I think it would have helped her more had she done that first. My take away is a bit like a golf pro once said to me. People go play golf get all the bad habits then finally go to a pro for lessons and the hardest part now becomes undoing the bad habits before they even get to learn the correct habits. So Carols approach has a great deal of merit going good for it.

    There is also a point Toni has made both on the forum and in off forum discussions about comments about work posted. It's one thing to provide attaboy type comments which at the very least demonstrate acknowledgement of the work, but it's far more helpful if one offers a constructive critique of the work and are honest in the comment. I think there is loads of merit I this point.

    Give you an example of how I have learned from the sideline on this matter.
    In the spinny world, I was only too happy when I turned my first bowl.
    That was in had managed to run a machine and use tools to remove material.
    But watching others and one day (and I will say he has done this many times since then) Vaughn commented on the form of someone's bowl. Between him commenting and sideline chats and a discussion at his shop with Ed Thomas about curves and shape, I learnt there is more to turning than meets the eye, especially when one is looking to create "objet d'art"

    Now this all assumes one is open to accepting critique and that's not always easy in the cyber space environment for many reasons.

    But I argue with myself over this matter because for many works of art, we do not have and know of the artists skills or intentions or thoughts at the time the item was created and so have to critique on the merits of the piece as it pertains to one's own likes or dislikes just like "Joe public" would.
    The weighting then attributed to that critique is then in my view proportional to the person doing the critiques own skills or knowledge of the subject matter.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    East Freeetown, Massachusetts
    I plan to take in some art classes.

    I also agree with critiquing, I am open to that.

    I also know how it can be difficult to do the critiquing, because it often looks like talking down to someone, or is often taken in a negative way. The receiver get their pride hurt and can respond in an angry manner.

    I attended a sign camp in Indiana a few years ago, and learned more in 3 days than in the 9 years of playing with CNC at home.

    One thing I do see is possibilities.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    The Gorge Area, Oregon
    My take is that success is a series of failures, so fail early, fail often and occasionally try to fail big. Generally I figure if I'm not making three mistakes a day I'm not pushing hard enough (or not looking hard enough for mistakes) - figuring out how to recover from the mistakes is also a nice learning process (or maybe.. there are no mistakes, just happy accidents?).

    I'm reminded of this little story:
    The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the "quantity" group: fifty pound of pots rated an "A", forty pounds a "B", and so on. Those being graded on "quality", however, needed to produce only one pot -albeit a perfect one - to get an "A". Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the "quantity" group was busily churning out piles of work - and learning from their mistakes - the "quality" group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.
    That kind of struck home with me as I do tend to do the "perfection" an bit, but have found I'm actually happier (and it works better) when just going for it.

    Also consider that art is usually best when its on the edge of disaster. Spending some time working with the skew really drives this home, you can get a truly sublime surface from the skew chisel, but the place where you get the best finish is right behind the hairy edge of a backwards spiral catch - it was kind of a nice metaphor for the larger context.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    Ryan, those were some deep thoughts (reminded me of "Deep thoughts by Jack Handey" on SNL).

    A few years years back I took a drawing class at a local college. Most of the students started out with little or no idea on how to draw but by the end of the semester we were surprised to see our progress. Art can be learnt to some degree. One thing that I took away from that class was that you should learn the proper technique and then try to break away from it, as strict technique can sometimes get in the way of creativity.
    Chinese Proverb: Man who eats many prunes gets good run for the money.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    ABQ NM
    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Keeble View Post
    ...There is also a point Toni has made both on the forum and in off forum discussions about comments about work posted. It's one thing to provide attaboy type comments which at the very least demonstrate acknowledgement of the work, but it's far more helpful if one offers a constructive critique of the work and are honest in the comment. I think there is loads of merit I this point...
    Hear, hear! I would say I owe at least 80% of my woodturning abilities to the critiques I've received, particularly from a small group of turners whom I look up to. I got brutally honest critiques of many of my earlier pieces, especially regarding form and flow, and it made me look at my own work with an honest, "no excuses" viewpoint. Since then, on every piece I've turned there's been a little voice in my head asking "What would the guys say if they saw this?" It might have to do with form, or with sanding (dang...I see a scratch...should I call it good or go back to 120 grit and start over?), or finishing. I very seldom will settle for "good enough" anymore. This vastly improved my work. One has to set aside their ego and accept honest, constructive criticism in order to improve, too.

    I see the same thing in my music circles. Case in point is two different bands I've played in recently. In one of the bands (one I'm no longer playing in), we'd rehearse a song, it'd have mistakes galore, and when finished, all the other guys in the band were exchanging high fives saying "we rocked it, bro!" In the other band (one I'm still playing in), we'll rehearse a song, it'll have mistakes, and at the end the conversation is more like "we need to tighten up the bridge...let's run it again", or "the bass should be playing quarter notes through that part." Or the guys will just say "Vaughn you need to turn down the Suck knob on your guitar", lol.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Sacramento, CA
    Boy, i can relate to the engineer brain trying to see if there's any creative in there...

    First, I think you already know that there is. You're artistic - moreso than you give yourself credit for. You've already pushed beyond things I never knew you'd be into.

    Second, I can only speak from experience here, so here's what I've discovered about my own artistic journey:

    When I finished the last guitar, I was proud of the execution and the outcome, for sure. But it was so sentimental, it HAD to be done well. It meant too much to ME personally to allow it to be anything less than the absolute best I could give. Honestly, that kinda drained me. Once it was done, i wanted a project I could just do for fun. Just goof around with things I haven't really tried before. So I decided to build the table.

    The best part about building that table was that I didn't care about how it looked. Now, that sounds weird, but it's true. I didn't give a dang how it looked. That's not to say I didn't want it to look good. No, it HAD to look GOOD. But i didn't care how it got there or what it arrived at. The end result of the piece did not matter to me. It had to be QUALITY, but what it looked like didn't matter.

    What this meant for me was that I was FREE from all predisposed ideas about how it had to look for ME. It wasn't FOR me. It was for the sake of doing something creative and I was absolutely free to go wherever the vision took me. I wasn't constrained by my own tastes or my wife's tastes or my opinion of what someone else thought it should be. It just had to be what i had in mind. And what I had in mind could literally be ANYTHING i wanted to do. I didn't care. It didn't have to fit anything except what i was willing to try.

    It turned out ugly, in my opinion. It's the ugliest thing I've ever built on purpose. I'm proud of the execution. It looks good. But it's an ugly piece that I do not want in my home. I'm not the least bit sentimental about it. I'm not attached to it at all. I am happy with the outcome - it's built well - it came out exactly as I had envisioned. The execution is as fine as anything else I've built. And, it exercised a part of me that I didn't know I had - which was the whole point of the project in the first place: to see if i could do something for the sake of art.

    That freedom from my own prejudice and aesthetic opinion is the reason it did. If i had allowed myself to get attached to it, or to care about how it looked, then I wouldn't have built what I did. It would've been very different. It would've been precise, rectilinear and very boring. Not artistic. Just another table. Not unique.

    I firmly believe that you have to set yourself up for such a free expression to really explore your capability. Pick a technique you like (in my case, the table was because i wanted to do some sculpted joinery) and form a vision ... just pick something you'd like to create in your mind and then set about creating it. You've built enough things by now to know how to solve all the engineering parts so don't think about those things at all ... pick a vision, then you'll engineer solutions to execute that vision.

    In the case of the table - i knew i wanted sculpted joinery for the branches - that was as far as I thought it until it came time to fasten the limbs on. Then I had to engineer a little - to make sure the joinery was sound - soon as I'd solved it, engineer was back out and artist was back in -- back to the shaping, fitting to my vision -- no more math, no more measuring, no more engineering. Just remove the parts that aren't the thing I had in my mind.

    It was the most freeing project I've ever done ... I've never felt more unconstrained in my life.
    Jason Beam
    Sacramento, CA

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    The Gorge Area, Oregon
    Quote Originally Posted by Mohammad Madha View Post
    Ryan, those were some deep thoughts (reminded me of "Deep thoughts by Jack Handey" on SNL).

    Here's one from Yoda
    - There is no try, only do.
    I think that perhaps sums it up better

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