Bold lines make the art. Now, when I say “bold” I don’t mean “bold” as in when you make a font heavier. I mean brave and committed.
Tentative lines make bad drawings, tentative strokes made bad paintings, and tentative movements make ineffective martial arts maneuvers. Art is art. Bold is bold.
Take a look at the three skulls below. #2 has less detail and is less anatomically accurate than #1. And yet, because it is bold and committed in its line and form, it is far more striking. Now look at #3. It is the least anatomically correct of all. But because it is the most bold and the most committed of the three, it is the most artistic, the most interesting, and is the most successful at conveying a feeling of “skullishness.”
How many times have you seen a martial artist win a contest on commitment alone? Isn’t the efficacy of a technique less important that the commitment? Which would you rather rely upon: an effective technique thrown half-heartedly, or a simpler, less effective technique delievered with full force and commitment?
Whether your art involves the pen or the sword, pick a line and commit. What makes your art good and interesting — even art at all — is often the certainty of your hand and eye.
Now here’s your Cabal Fang WOD: PTDICE (4 sets to failure of Uneven Push-ups, Half Squats, Twisters, Wide Push-ups, Split Squats). Heavybag (12 x :30/:10 AFAYC — 8 minutes total)
Some people create stuff, and that takes guts. Starch. Balls. Because when you create art, some people might not like it. I’m always creating stuff, and I do so unafraid because I have to create. To quote the late great John Lee Hooker’s Boogie Chillen’, “It’s in him, and it’s got to come out.” So maybe creativity doesn’t take guts. Maybe what it takes is enough creative urgency, effervescent desire, and volcanic drive to overcome the of fear of criticism and hit the LAUNCH button.
If people don’t like what I create, no bigs. It’s okay not to like stuff. I see stuff I don’t like all the time. Usually I don’t say anything because I’m a creator myself, and I know that sometimes I put a ton of effort into creating things that nobody seems to dig. So even if I think somebody’s creation is kinda crappy, I often respect the effort. But I do appreciate constructive criticism. So when I do comment on stuff I don’t like, that’s what I usually offer. Constructive criticism: an essential part of a nutritious breakfast.
This morning I created a video for today’s WOD. Check it out. If you don’t like it, do whatever you want. Slam it, pan it, dis it, or if you’re in a Boogie Chillen’ kind of mood, just offer some constructive criticism. Note: This workout is a variant of one of the workouts in my book The Calisthenics Codex.
Instructions: Take a deck of ordinary playing cards, remove the Jokers, and shuffle. Put the deck on the floor and flip a card. Black = Push-ups, Red = Squats. Aces = 10, face cards = 12. Complete reps as indicated. Flip a card and repeat. If you do the whole deck, you will have done 200 Push-ups and 200 Squats. I got to 34 cards before I gassed. Oh well, there’s always next time!
There are films and there are movies. When you imagine the possibility that a cinematic production might deeply touch or even change someone’s life, you probably think of a great film, a self-important, artsy-fartsy kind of film.
I hate to hear the term “serious art.” It implies that some art is not serious, that it is inherently lesser. We don’t know what is in the artist’s heart, and even if we did, what difference does that make?
Art is art. That black light Jimi Hendrix poster you got on eBay and tacked to your ceiling may be your personal Sistine Chapel.
I’m not saying that all art is equal in terms of the depth of symbolism, the skill required, the time investment, and the various metrics. All I’m saying is that I/we shouldn’t be so ready to look down our noses at stuff.
“Surely all art is the result of one’s having been in danger, of having gone through an experience all the way to the end, to where no one can go any further… Therein lies the enormous aid the work of art brings to the life of the one who must make it — that it is his epitome, the knot in the rosary at which his life recites a prayer, the ever-returning proof to himself of his unity and genuineness, which presents itself only to him while appearing anonymous to the outside, nameless, existing merely as necessity, as reality, as existence.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke, from “Letters on Cézanne”
(By way of Brainpickings. A fantastic article on what is, without question, one of the web’s best blogs).
Never forget to hit it as hard as you can. “Swing away Merrill…Merrill, swing away.”
If you stopped ten people on the street and asked them which pharaoh the Great Pyramid of Giza was intended to entomb, maybe one of them would answer correctly with “I think it was Khufu, right?” Remember Shelley’s “Ozymandias?” There is nothing you can build that will last for more than a short time, and there is no achievement you can make that won’t be forgotten in short order. Nothing is permanent except impermanence.
All in all, it’s easy to see why so many people react in one of the two most popular ways: they either manufacture significance where there is none (insert religious or ideological outlook here) or give up entirely and just pay bills and wait to die.
You don’t have to choose the red or the blue pill. There is at least one another option. Mine is something I’ll call the purple pill:
Life is an aesthetic practice rather than a material or moralistic one. You are a work of art in sidewalk chalk that will be destroyed by the next rain, a piece of graffiti soon to be white-washed, a comedy improv skit nobody will remember next week. While you last, be the most beautiful piece of art you can be.
Be amazing, be striking, be the best damn thing you can be.
Last week I went to upstate NY on vacation to visit relatives. Not a place I’d want to live — too remote and far too cold in winter — but it’s beautiful country. And a nice place to get a break from Virginia’s heat.
Here are some of the sketches I did as I was looking out over the St. Lawrence River.
This is called “art!” For my first large, graffiti-style piece, it doesn’t stink too bad. It would’ve been much better if the white paint can hadn’t clogged. Bummer.
Normally I spend Sunday mornings writing blog posts for the week. Not today. I decided to make art.
I often draw and paint (acrylics mostly), but I’ve always wanted to try my hand with spray paints. You know, graffiti-style. So I did.
Unfortunately the only can of white paint I had around the house got clogged. I didn’t bother to run to the store for a new can. This was supposed to be quick, spontaneous, and fun, not some major project. It ain’t perfect, but it is what it was supposed to be. Making the video and writing this post took longer than making the piece. And it was a blast.
If you want to watch me paint it, I’ve included the video below.
A wicked piece of graffit — unattributed — found on richmond.com
I’m in the process of shooting pictures for my upcoming calisthenics book, and I’d like to take some of the illustrative photos with really striking graffiti art in the background. If you are a graffiti artist working in the Richmond, VA area, and you’re willing to point me to where I can find your art and allow the photos to appear in my book, please get in touch. No cash, attribution only, but I will give full credit and include links to your website, blog, etc.
I teach martial arts, fitness, outdoor skills, and spiritual development. Interested in a custom seminar? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many programs are available free through my non-profit — even the distance learning program! Visit the Heritage Arts website to find out more, or click here to join the Heritage Self-Defense group on Facebook.
What is Heritage Self-Defense? It’s a realistic and effective western martial art drawing on boxing, wrestling, and “Rough ‘n’ Tumble” — including defensive use of walking stick, knife and tomahawk. Textbook in production.
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