The Power of Artificial Constraints

The Power of Artificial Constraints

Two short stories and a lesson.

Story One. I like to drink coffee in the morning, and I like it hot, hotter than the coffee maker makes it. So, I put my mug in the microwave for an additional 20 second blast and then I race to grab as much silverware as I can out of the dish drain and try to put it all away before the buzzer goes off. If I’m not holding it when I hear the sound I win and if I am still holding it, I lose. Despite the absence of stakes, I feel a little upset if I don’t get it done in time. Functional!

Story Two. Sometime before 3rd grade I lived in a very hilly neighborhood with winding roads. I liked to tell myself I could only use the breaks on my bike two times while coming home. This ultimately resulted in a total wipe out that ruined my bike and left me bloody and limping. Commitment!

Lesson. Create artificial restraints in your art practice. Make some rules. The thing about rules is they have to be clear as day and non-negotiable. They do not have to make sense or be good. Even if they make no sense they will work. The other thing about rules is they have to be fun. Fun to YOU! Not a rule you wanted or hoped would be fun. No, that’s Monopoly, a long and stupid game that you don’t want to play. The rules absolutely, positively have to be FUN! Make a piece of art, you win.

If you make up weird little rules for yourself, please share. I would love to know I am not the only weirdo.

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There is no being an artist. There is doing art.

There is no being an artist. There is doing art.

What you want to be considered resides in the perception of others.

What you do is who you actually are.

You make art to find out about yourself, not to impress anonymous, imaginary people. You can always impress them in your fantasy, but they will never give you what you actually seek, your own approval. The best art is stamped authentic and good by its maker. Without that, it is imitation. The gift is to not die before witnessing your own creation, by meeting yourself in the mirror of art.

You know you have done it when it grows. The doing of more is the sign of approval. If it’s not currently growing, stop the part that stops you. Every path to good art begins in a tangled jungle of bad art. Bad art is not a sign you are a bad artist. The art we reject is just the metal shavings falling off the knife as it is sharpened.

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