There are, very broadly speaking, two kinds of art.
Dance, music, acting, cuisine, that sort of art exists in time and space together. Once the time is gone, they vanish, leaving nothing behind except witness in the minds of the audience. Those arts begin and end in practice, because performance and practice are the same. The only difference is witness. So repetition is key to these arts, at start and finish.
The other sort of art begins in practice, meets opportunity, and leaves behind a record that exists in space. Writing, painting, sculpture, and photography are examples of this. They leave behind a record of their creation; it's the record itself that we admire in these arts.
The common element in all arts is practice.
Art requires endless repetition with absolute dedication. Only once the form has gone beyond memorization and has become a response in the flesh itself can brilliance occur. This repetition is, of course, called practice. You can no more stop practicing mid-career than a bird can stop flying in midair.
I play the ukulele badly, because I haven't played any one song more than six or seven hundred times. And also because I have no talent. But even without talent, enough practice may allow me to play proficiently. So in ten or twenty years I will be able to play a few songs well enough to listen to.
On the other hand, I have a little talent at drawing and writing, and have practiced both of those forms a great deal, so am adequate at them for my purposes. And I'll get better with continued effort.
Clearly, the common element in all arts is practice. Practice alone will give you skill, even without innate aptitude; you can be a craftsman. Talent is a facility for absorbing the rewards of practice -- it can make you a master. Genius is a different thing; a genius is born with a lifetime of practice already inside them.
So as it happens, I'm not any good at the arts that exist in time alone. I can cook a little, and play the ukulele poorly, and that's it. I'm better at the permanent arts. Here's here the 'fishing' part comes in.
Say you're a dancer. You practice until the entire choreography is built into your body, refining and perfecting each motion, always striving to make each performance the best.
It's not the same if you're making a drawing or a photograph or writing something. Then opportunity enters into it. When I was a kid, we all knew where the good fishing spots were. But the kids who caught the best fish were the ones who spent all their time on the water. That's opportunity. It's why, many days, I will sit at my desk and get very little written. But I'm there all the damn day. Because you never know when that big fish is going to swim by. If you don't have a bait in the water you will not catch it. That's taking the opportunity.
So if you're ready when inspiration strikes -- when the image appears, when your hand communicates onto the paper or the words come -- in that moment the permanent art can be created. In that sense, practice is keeping yourself in readiness for when the occasion is right.
2 weeks ago