Sunday, January 4, 2009

. . . experienced synchronistic quirk

while I was browsing through many links on many art blogs. I found that a lot of artists were choosing a single word to be a sort of mantra for the coming year, instead of making resolutions. I'm sorry, I didn't think to track my internet wanderings so I can't link anything for you. On one site, I found a list of words that might apply. You were only to choose one so as to avoid confusion. I couldn't pick just one, but the word I was most attracted to was "mastery." I could imagine working hard to master some aspect of art.

Then today I read a book review of Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers. The premise of the book, according to the review, is that it takes 10,000 hours for "a talented person to master a cognitively complex skill," and that "it's the number of hours that separates the merely good the really great." Of course, that raises another question: Gladwell notes "there is a raging debate among psychologists whether there is such a thing as innate talent. I'm on the side that says there really isn't. If it does exist, it plays a small role. I'm much more convinced of the contribution of practice and effort to make excellence." FYI, 10,000 hours is about ten years. And you don't actually have to be doing the thing you want to master all of those 10,000 hours; you can be just thinking about doing them while doing something else. . . the example cited was actors who work as waiters for years to support themselves before attaining success.

Gladwell, however, does concede that "You have to have a threshold level of aptitude." Whatever that it, because he says he doesn't know. For instance, I could probably practice singing for 10,000 hours and still not be very good, because I don't have that "threshold level of
aptitude." I may have to find a copy of this book somewhere; it sounds interesting.

Just a word about the collage above: I wanted to do some exercises in simplicity, and you can see that didn't work out too well. My goal was to apply simple square or rectangular shapes of one color in different tones and shades to a collage in an interesting way. But then I found some interesting looking white tissue paper with bits of grayish green and then everything just went south from there. and I have no idea how the bottom became so crooked, either. I will tell you that after I scanned this collage, I did play around with the color and intensity and it looked much more interesting. But I decided to post this picture of how the collage actually looks without enhancement.


bob cornelis said...


Another interesting post! I do believe most people have to put in a significant amount of time (plus have that baseline aptitude) to become a "master". I guess once in a while there are prodigies in various fields that put in less. 10000 hours is a lot - average 3 hrs each and every day for 10 years. Glad to hear that thinking about it counts!

Jeane said...

OMG! - 10,000 hours = about ten years - well, I've passed that and some more! - this piece feels industrial - I really like it!

Mary Buek said...

Thanks, Bob and Jeane. When I think of mastery of this sort, the Olympic athletes come to mind. I feel like I have a long way to go to achieve mastery over anything.