Monday, September 27, 2010

Practice: Paging the Muse

We've all heard the call of the muse. Sometimes it sings to us as we sleep, bringing us flashes of inspiration in dreams. Other times it happens at the most random of times and places -- doesn't my muse know that I don't have a sketchbook at the ready when I'm driving across the Bay Bridge? When the muse calls, it is our duty as artists to listen, to take dictation, as it were. Great works of art can grow from these brilliant seeds.

But if artists always waited for inspiration to strike, the world of paintings, music, and literature would be a much poorer place for it. Equally important is taking time to sit down and practice our art, muse or no muse. When we do this, we aren't counting on any outside force to give us something that we're perfectly capable of creating ourselves. Some days we might feel like Sisyphus pushing the rock up the mountain, but unlike his labors, ours will never be in vain.

Believe it or not, I didn't get to this realization through painting (my first artistic love), but through practicing my bandoneon. Going from an abject beginner to someone who can now read music, carry a tune, and play with other musicians -- all through practice -- has been a true revelation, one that I'm finally mature enough to appreciate.

How have you dealt with inspiration and practice in your own artistic life?

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