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Monday, April 28, 2014

Freehanding the Perfect Circle

In one of my art classes, I was told that Michelangelo was such a good artist, he could freehand a perfect circle. I haven't checked sources on this, but I told this to my nine-year-old nephew one day. His response? "I can do that. That's easy."

"Remember," I said, "just because something is simple and you understand how to do it, doesn't make it easy."

My nephew pulled out some paper and a pencil and got to work. One thing I want to say. . .generally speaking, he's not a very patient person. He likes to get stuff done as fast as possible. So I knew this would be interesting.

He drew circle after circle after circle (rather quickly considering it needed to be perfect.) After about 15 minutes, he said, "I can't do it."

Just because something is simple and you understand how to do it, doesn't make it easy.

Earlier I talked about your writing eye, and how it should, hopefully, be ahead of your abilities. Understanding and knowing how to do something is the first step, but it can take lots of practice to do it right. I think sometimes we forget about this with writing. I know several people who have an amazing eye for writing, but then I read their work and was surprised to see that they couldn't yet follow their own advice. They're still learning. And we should all still be learning.

Their insights reveal their potential for where they can be.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Sherlock Thoughts

It took me longer, I think, than most fans to fall in the love with the Sherlock series. I liked it, but didn't love it as much as others I knew. Now I think part of my problem was that I watching episodes in pieces instead of all at once (each episode is an hour and a half). Today, I love it, and here's my review.

Who is it For?

I feel like Sherlock Holmes, or renditions of him, have been around for so long that either you like Sherlock Holmes, or you don't. The BBC series differs than the original in that it takes place in modern London, so instead of Watson writing down his adventures with Sherlock on paper, he has a blog, instead of letters, they get messages. If you love crime shows, mystery shows, or the characters and their relationships in previous remakes, you'll probably like this Sherlock.


What I love most about Sherlock, is the character dynamics. I know, the story revolves around solving cases, which is fun and exciting, and keeps interest, but so many of the characters are so unique (and portrayed so well) that often I find the relationships and characterizations more interesting than the cases. Watching the character arc of Sherlock is what sold my heart on the show. 

Sherlock starts off with having no friends and dismal social skills. He cares about solving crimes more than he does about people. As the series progresses, he gains friends he's willing to lose his pride for, to die for, and learns to be more sociable and kinder. All of this is because of his relationship with John Watson. The show illustrates the power and influence a positive, real relationship can have on an individual.

John Watson has his own arc. He goes from thinking Sherlock is a heartless, jerk, antihero, to gaining a deeper understanding of him, considering him a best friend, and a hero, in spite of his flaws.

I'm a sucker for that. I'm a sucker for relationships where character's gain a deep understanding of one another and become better people because of it, especially when the relationship has flaws and imperfections.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Your Writing Eye

If you want to be great at writing, you have to do more than just write. You have to develop an "eye" for it. If you aren't developing an eye for it, you're not progressing very far. You can't become a better storyteller if you can't see how to. Right?

Your writing eye should always be ahead of your writing abilities. Read that sentence again: Your writing eye should always be ahead of your writing abilities. Why? Because that's how you learn and grow as a writer! If your eye is always ahead of your abilities, you always have something to strive for. If it's not, you can't improve your storytelling abilities.

Whether you're a beginning writer or a seasoned one, there is always more to learn.

Here are three ways to strengthen your eye for writing.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Feeding Us Criticism

If anyone is serious about anything in the arts, she's going to get criticized. And she should. The truth is, artists need criticism. Otherwise we can't fully hone our skills. We need people to feed it to us.

Some people say that "writers get a thick skin." I'm not sure I believe that. With the arts--whether it's writing, animation, painting, or dance--we also need to keep ourselves vulnerable, because art is all about opening up to others. Often the best art is vulnerable, in that it lets others connect with the artist's mind and soul.

So artists need two things: they need criticism and they need to be vulnerable. This can lead to hurt feelings. But, generally speaking, those feelings are the artist's responsibility, not the critic's. The artist needs to learn to deal with them, because he will feel them over and over again throughout his career. He needs to learn to take criticism.

So when we ask for feedback, give it to us. People think they might help by not telling us what they don't like, but in long-run, they're hurting. They're hurting our art and our personal growth.

We need critics who aren't afraid of hurting our feelings. We need critics who are okay when our feelings are hurt.