I’ve mulled over the idea of doing a vlog series. I’ve always frowned on vloggers because I’ve watched many that don’t seem to produce anything that could be called “content.” Lots of opinion and self concerned monologue, but nothing beyond numb entertainment.
As an experiment I tried recording myself and did some editing. As I have been told, it is a disillusioning experience. You notice things about yourself that others surely must have been noticing for years. You feel like a bit of an idiot.
Over the course of my academic career I never edited a single paper. I didn’t have the time. I was so busy that all I could do was write a legible draft of whatever assignment I needed to do, hand it in at the last second, and hope for the best. Recently I’ve had time to read over some old work and it is embarrassing.
I’m beginning to understand how this works as a self-improvement exercise. When you edit you become aware of all your mistakes. Perhaps in time you learn to anticipate when those mistakes will happen and you avoid them. Another strange thing is that you become much more conscious of yourself as a human being in the third person. You stop being exempt from the rules by which you evaluate others and you furthermore become aware of what those rules are.
It’s definitely a valuable experience but it’s also very embarrassing, perhaps more so than being critiqued by another.
I try to draw a human, which seems to be the trickiest subject. I start with a hand and it turns our alright. Then the forearm – an improvement over previous forearms. Then I stop paying attention and just draw.
The end result could be called ‘stylized’ and I would take it as a compliment. I’m discouraged but urged to finish. And, no, it’s not yet finished. There’s a lesson to be learned from every failure and I’m determined to find that lesson. I decide my subject should feel what I feel. I give him some vague notion to think about and I watch it fall to pieces as it comes out of his fingertips.
I name it “What Does A Human Look Like?”
Having mitigated the doodle, I review my work and try to figure out what I should improve. This observation dawns on me: discipline in art is not a process of finding better tools. The pencil is sufficient. The words I use in poetry are the same words used by Emily Dickinson and Dylan Thomas. Poor art does not result from poor tools; it only occasionally results from bad ideas.
Poor art is most often the fault of the medium between ideas and tools – the artist. Good art is the product not of finding better tools but shaping a better self, improving the connection between their inside world and outside world. The artist is bettered and hopefully their works will inspire others to do the same.
And even our weaker works can say something of worth.
Winter winds are wild, alive,
But frigid to the touch.
Summer air is calm and fair
But does not change that much.
Spring and Autumn change, evolve.
Nature’s coursing gradient.
Spring crescendos as it grows, and
Autumn falls to cadence.
Winters sleep in tranquil white.
Summers dance in green.
Spring is both and Autumn
Every colour in between.
Blooms will fade and go to seed
And seeds will turn to flowers –
It’s the sliding tide of life that
Gives the Earth this living power.
Before a work and its inception
Is a third thing.
Potentials without purpose.
The purpose comes with
A fourth thing:
The faith to believe
In what could be.
Completion, Inception. Faith, Nothing.
This is the fifth thing
Between faith and inception:
I cannot solve.
A fog to charge through