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.

Sidewalk Face 784

Experience Makes You Confident

Experience Makes You Confident

There is no real confidence without experience. What we know without hesitation is the outcome of experience. Everything else is guessing.

To get experience you have to do the thing, the whole thing. You have to go from A to Z, from here to there, from beginning to end. And when you do, you know more, and you are secure in the knowledge of what you know.

Read about fire. Think about fire. Look at pictures of fire. Draw images of fire. Do you know fire?

Stick your hand in fire. You know fire.

Stick a raw potato in fire. Eat a cooked potato. You know fire.

If someone asks, Should I stick my hand in fire?, will you be insecure telling them no? If someone asks, Will fire cook food?, will you wonder if it does? Of course not.

That’s the confidence that comes from experience.