You’ve heard this well-used phrase, “jack of all trades and master of none.” This saying sort of piques me. Being curious about so many things, I want to pursue every creative avenue that opens before me.
While it is true that Creativity Breeds…CREATIVITY and I appreciate the diversity of ways to be creative, it seems that if I really want to get better at any one thing, I need to spend time with it. It’s that whole thing about learning a language best through immersion…move in with a family fluent in the language you want to learn. Three months, they recommend, I’ve heard.
Years ago, I viewed a National Geographic Special, the Living Treasures of Japan. This film is about Japan’s Living National Treasures…men and women artists who are paid a stipend to perfect their art over their lifetimes! I remember thinking how brilliant that was. The individual artist (sometimes there were groups of artists that were supported) had the opportunity to develop his/her craft over the course of his/her life–the sword maker, the indigo producer and fabric dyer, the puppet maker, etc. This was their lifelong field of study! Imagine that…being paid for your artistic area of expertise throughout your life! (Most of us can only imagine that.) Here is the link to the National Geographic film. I found it to be very inspiring! https://youtu.be/KujoKBGuRsM
If you aren’t financially supported as you practice your art…you could choose to do a study of something you want to learn. Stated simply, a study is a chosen immersion to practice a technique or form to help you develop a degree of mastery. For instance, one online art class assignment was to draw and paint every version of a strawberry that I could imagine, using differing techniques & tools, but with the same theme–strawberry. In looking at these today, I see how each painting evokes a different emotion.
I’ve certainly done this with my writing. Especially when studying a poetic form that was new to me. Or even the entire summer I spent learning how to make truffles. No one minded eating my mistakes.
Do you admire the way another writer uses descriptive detail in his books? Or have you been intrigued with how a painter achieves perspective in her landscapes? Is there some style of writing that takes your breath away every time? Or a shading technique that you’ve always been curious about in pencil drawings? Whatever it is, let your curiosity guide you to do your own study of something. What would it be? How much time are you willing to commit to this study? Go for it!
This type of immersion has great rewards for you as the writer or artist, not to mention a bit of healthy self-pride at sticking with and developing skill in a particular area.
*The above exercise with strawberries is from an online art class presented by artist, Marla Baggetta.