How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall?

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View of where I am practicing today

Most of us who are professional artists find great joy in exploration and experimentation. Whether it involves new materials, unfamiliar subjects, or an entirely different medium, exploring and experimenting spawns creativity and practice leads to growth. 

Professional atheletes, musicians, actors, chefs, lawyers, and doctors, accountants, all take the time required to practice, strengthen their game, sharpen their skills, read the latest publications, learn new procedures, and stay up-to-date on anything that is relevant to their profession. Yet carving out time to practice in a field such as ours can seem like play time. We can get bogged down in "production," or in teaching others, and don't always take the time we need to invest in our own learning. 

A little story: Many years ago I applied for a job at a large publishing house here in Nashville. There were several positions available, and I was applying to work in the art department as an entry level typesetter.  I thought this would be my foot in the door of the graphic design world. After filling out the application, the company gave me a very extensive aptitude test. The results showed that I had no spacial relationship skills, but that I would make a great accountant. They offered me the accountant position, which I immediately turned down to start my own graphic design company.

Please do not read this as an insult to accountants. I knew that I personally did not have the passion for doing it in a way that would keep me curious, or sustain any level of satisfaction for me for the rest of my life. Turning down that job was the best thing I ever did. It lead to a very succcessful design career which in turn lead to a painting career, which is leading to many years of exploration, experimentation, and practice.

Next week I am allowing myself the opportunity to do just as other professional do in their line of work. I will be learning new techniques, trying new materials, sharpening my skills, and stretching my mind at the

Plein air Convention

 in Monterey, CA. I'll be there with several hundred of my closest colleagues all practicing the same things, and every single one of us will be better for it. I will need to remind myself several times that indeed, this is part of my job. Just because it is fun, does not mean it isn't also work. I will be exhausted and exhilarated all at the same time.* 

I have had lots of careers in my life -- music, acting, clerical, and lots of others. I even considered law at one time. As for having any sort of aptitude or "gift" or talent, for painting, I have never felt I had any. But passion and curiosity... I have that!

If there is anything you want to learn badly enough, you will eventually find a way to do it.  Remind yourself often, that the best way to get to Carnegie Hall is "practice, practice, practice."

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