It’s fun to dabble in the arts, but real artists spend time developing their craft. I’ve just finished reading the book Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell. According to the theories presented in this book, it sometimes takes unusual and often uncontrolled circumstances, as well as at least 10,000 hours of hard work and practice, to really excel in a given field.
Now, I like to dabble at least as much as the average person. To think, however, that my dabbling will lead me in the same direction as those who’ve put in the hours of hard training needed to really excel is a bit idiotic.
Potters: A group of ceramic artists in Bristol display and sell beautifully handcrafted ceramics to the public. Having worked for years to develop their craft, the most excellent artists display their works. We had the good fortune of working with a potter who let us dabble with her clay. As you see, I created a little pot and then found that I’d used too much water and had to return the rest of the clay. Making a silly pot and making a ceramic masterpiece are not equivalent. Check out the Bristol artists to get my point!Dancers: While Natalie Portman’s portrayal of Nina in Black Swan just won her many awards, I’m not at all surprised at the response from the ballet world. My daughters took ballet from the time they were about five years old. What ballet dancers know is that you can’t simply buy some point shoes and be able to dance professionally without years of practice. For sure it can’tbe done as an adult! In fact, having heard the interview of how Natalie spent eighteen months learning ballet in order to do the role even annoyed me—and I only watch ballet.The interview was meant to promote Natalie. Yet, even insinuating that she was able to do any professional moves after that length of time was by all means an insult to those who really know ballet. She might better have said, “Thanks to the excellent ABT dancers, I was able to focus on my dancer’s character and portray it to the best of my ability. I spent about eighteen months just trying to make my neck look like a dancer and learn their lingo.” That would have likely made her seem more believable to all in the know.
Heres my attempt to dabble with clay!
Dabblers: I am a dabbler. I do have fun trying new things for the experience, but I’m not pretending that I can become professional by dabbling. I appreciate excellence, and I love being around those who are putting in hard work to be the best they can.
Who do you admire for their excellence? Do you have paths you wished you had taken or those you wish you had not abandoned?
“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” Steve Jobs