Friday, June 30, 2006

On series... (Primarily for Michelle)

This is from Robert Glenn's Twice Weekly Newsletter. I thought it insightful.

The nature of serial process

June 30, 2006

We're all familiar with the problems associated with Sunday
Painters. Cranking up the old machine once a week may be okay
in the vintage car hobby--but it's bad news in the creativity
game. The steady worker who applies his craft daily is more
likely to make creative gains than an intermittent one. Even
when tired, or even because of it, the rolling creator can
generally squeeze further. While the "tolerance for duds" is
part of the serial game--and a valuable lesson in the
non-preciousness of art--the effervescence that flows has to be
among the truly great feelings. Curiously, it's best if the
artist doesn't have much to say about the process. Spilling the
beans interferes with series work. "I do not explain, I
explore," said Marshall McLuhan.

Developing an initial idea into an extended series is basic to
the art spirit. In the natural progression from the obvious to
the esoteric, it's often in the esoteric that the better work
is realized. Along the way there are stages that can help a
creator get a bigger bang for her buck:

Initial attraction and recognition of potential.
Commitment to virgin understanding and first rendition.
Secondary attraction to nuance and sleeper elements.
Further "aha" recognition that the thing has legs.
Re-dedication to specific exploration and variation.
Development of personal touches and sensitivities.
Progression through excited highs to creative climax.

As the serial process unfolds, the challenges presented by
earlier sorties become more and more easily retaken. While a
project's history becomes necessary to its future, previously
covered ground is glossed over in favour of other concerns and
attractions. Facility and speed, while they may not be ends in
themselves, are byproducts of the process. If uniform sizes and
means are maintained, the last often takes less time than the
first. And the mind, caught up in the seductive business of
exploration, stays hot and snappy like an electric swatter in a
cloud of mosquitoes.

Then there was the guy who was inventing and testing soft
drinks. He developed One-up, Two-up, Three-up, Four-up,
Five-up, and Six-up. None of these were quite perfect, so he
quit right there.

Best regards,


PS: "Plunge deep enough in order to see something that is
hidden and glimmering." (Matsuo Basho)


Rebecca Bush said...

I appreciate this one, too, Tara-- feeling the need to break out of "Sunday Painterism". While I don't truly understand all that is said in this-- I do get the drift to plug away and cling to what is working and follow that impulse rather than to plan.
Thanks for posting!

tlc illustration said...

Your welcome. Are you back in town?

jog said...

I got a little lost at points too, but I understood enough to recognize the truth of what he is saying. While a series limits you to certain parameters, it then frees you to go off in every direction within those parameters--kind of like creating a Dr. Who's phonebox. So your exploration is limitless within the limits, so to speak--with some channeling of the ideas, you are not lost to every impulse along the way if it doesn't complement or further your intial quest.

I've just finished a week of goofing off without (mostly, anyway) guilt. Now it's time to get back on a schedule that is not all horses, sudoku (my new addiction) and mystery novels. Cleaning out my files is sobering me right up and I HOPE to get on a regular drawing schedule, the one thing I am so undisciplined about unfortunately.

Nita Leland had a lovely suggestion in her book on Creativity about drawing something in your normal environment for each letter of the alphabet--quick 3" square sketches, one a day, and this kind of appealed to me. It's a very good book by the way--I'll bring it next meeting.