Saturday, November 17, 2012

the dichotomy of ability and understanding

Over the years as I've been trying to improve in art and in other areas, I've noticed a pattern that I thought I'd share. This pattern has to do with the relationship between the ability to do something well and the understanding of how to do something well.

First off, I think our understanding of how to do something is always beyond our ability. As we study, observe, read, etc, our understanding (hopefully) increases.

Our ability doesn't always improve at the same rate as our understanding.

Lets pretend that we can graph ability and understanding, which we can't, but we're pretty good at pretending so we'll do it anyway.

Understainding: -----
Ability: ----

So we're feeling pretty good about ourselves, because we can do art (or whatever it is) about as well as we understand what it means to do well.

Then we study. We look at awesome pictures, take some classes, brainstorm some awesome ideas.

Then our graph looks something like this:

Understanding: -----------
Aility: ----

And we don't feel so good about ourselves. So we work and sweat and stay up all night and fill fifty sketchbooks and try new things.

And then we have a graph looking like this:

Understanding : -----------
Ability: ----------

And we're feeling pretty good about ourselves at that point.

I think this keeps on going indefinitely. Our understanding will pull ahead, and we work hard for awhile to bring our abilities up to that level again. When understanding and ability are close to the same level we might get kind of comfortable. But as we continue to, like, live and expose ourselves to good art and hopefully learn stuff, it happens again, and our understanding pulls ahead. When there is a large gap between understanding and ability, well, thats a pretty uncomfortable place. But it's important part of this pattern.

I feel like I'm currently at the high-understanding/insufficient-ability end of the cycle right now. Not a comfortable place to be. Understand, I'm not asking for sympathy or "your art is so awesome don't say bad things about it" type comments right now. I'm just saying, I feel like I have so many ideas and sources of inspiration and my current abilities just aren't measuring up to the visions in my head.

Not such a bad place to be. But you know what that means?

Time to get to work.

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