Birth of an App, Part 7

Birth Of An App

Pictures chosen and edited – check.
Stories written and edited – check.
Categories (finally) decided and named – check.
Music composed and optimized for the iPad – check.
App optimizing and troubleshooting completed – check. (Although there were some pesky crashes on the iPad 1 that needed some serious analysis and work. All stable now, thankfully.) (more…)

Right-brained thinking in a left-brained world

I just attended a four-day “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” workshop and am exhausted. I never expected to be so fatigued – after all it was a drawing class! I feel like I ran four marathons.

The premise is interesting: that we lose our right-brained view of the world by about the time we become teenagers, once the language skills and quantitative training we receive in school really start to kick in. That’s why most of us (myself clearly included) as adults continue to draw as if we’re in about the fourth grade.

This training was based on the book of the same name, originally written in 1979 and still available as a book as well as a workshop. Interestingly, I purchased this book some three years ago but had not cracked the cover until a week before the class started. I read it as the class I was taking was taught in Hungarian and I wasn’t confident I’d understand all of the subtleties of the lesson, although I did fare rather well!

The class centered on looking at the world anew, suppressing the left-dominant logic when it comes to looking at shadows, faces and perspectives. Over the four days we learned how to look at objects leveraging our right brain hemisphere. I have to tell you it didn’t come easy for me and I consider myself to be pretty right-brained.

Beyond the overall lesson in drawing learned – and the vast improvement in my drawing in just a few days of practice – I also took away some more subtle lessons:

Use all the tools you have available. We were given six pencils – H, HB, H2, H4, H6 and H8 – that ranged in hardness and functionality. I found myself choosing a “favorite” many times versus leveraging the range of options available, and my drawings reflected this closed-mindedness. Several times I had too much graphite on an image and had I chosen another, better suited pencil, I would have fared better. We were also given three erasers: a basic one good for massive erasing, an eraser “pen” for more detailed corrections and a kneaded eraser for final touch-ups. All three had their role and I used them all extensively!

Look for what’s not there versus what is there. The left-brain tells you what is there and what’s logical. The right brain shows you what isn’t there – the negative spaces in an image that make an image an image. Really searching for what isn’t there was huge in helping render images as they really are as you learned the true spatial relationships between various objects. I observed one classmate (who happens to be in IT – serious left brain dominance) struggle with the assignments, even arguing with the teacher at one point about what he needed to do. He struggled with suppressing the left hemisphere more than some in the class and was extremely frustrated most of the time. We had to trust the teacher in looking for what was not there versus grabbing onto what was obvious in front of our eyes.

Have patience and persistence – and believe in yourself – and the image emerges. Many times I questioned myself about how I was shading part of a picture or what highlights I was leaving on the paper. It seemed counter intuitive at times, yet when I would step back from the image just a foot or two, the logic became clear and image would indeed appear as it was supposed to. Being patient and persistent were key and, coupled with choosing my tools well, made the difference between realizing an acceptable image (I’m no Vermeer mind you) and one that needed a big eraser or, better yet, a new sheet of paper.
I’m sharing here the before and after images I drew – click on the image to see it larger. Each of us was given a photo to draw as our first assignment on day one. On day four, we redrew the image and, well, the difference a couple of days of training makes is obvious. Everyone showed marked improvement in their drawing skills no matter where they started from, just by learning how to use the right side of their brains.

P.S. Also, welcome to the new home of my blog! Better name, better design, better focus (pun intended) and more functionality with this site. Please feel free to join the conversation!


Every. Single. Day.

I have a goal to feed this internal creative hunger; to expand my mind and eye and grow my craft; to make my photography the best it can be.

To that end, I devote time to photography every single day. Certainly, some days have a greater emphasis or get more time than others, but it is a conscious decision to do something photo-related at some time during the day – every day.

Maybe it’s shooting. Or developing. Or printing, transferring, scanning. Reading, studying another’s work, learning a new technique, listening to others, talking with someone. Or writing. In every case, something meaningful related to photography.

I have a desire to be the best I can be at what I do. To be that, I need to constantly learn and grow and move my art forward.

Richard Avedon once said, “If a day goes by without my doing something related to photography, it’s as though I’ve neglected something essential to my existence, as though I had forgotten to wake up.”

Every. Single. Day.


Move your art forward every day

Patricia Moran once said, “Discipline is admired in opera
singers, engineers, dancers, pianists or brain surgeons but, for some peculiar
reason, when a painter is undisciplined, it is considered creative, new and
innovative, or even genius. Usually, it is just bad painting.”

The same applies to any visual art, including photography. I
try to move my art forward every single day. I don’t always make it, but five
out of seven days in the week I do something
to improve my art –
shoot, print, retouch, study, visit a gallery/exhibit, work on a portfolio,
write, take a class, read, visit with others, plan, organize – something
related to photography with the eternal goal of advancing my art. It sounds disciplined and it is, although it is pleasurable versus painful. Instead of being an obligation, it’s an aspiration – and inspiration.

I do not want to remain where I am with my photography. I
like what I’ve done in the past and I like what I’m doing presently, but I
continually want to learn something new – a new technique (maybe an old one,
but new to me), test a new perspective, learn something unique from another
artist from any visual or performing art – whatever is possible to push my
limits, push me out of my comfort zone, make me try something different in order to move me ahead in developing who I am
as an artist.

Ms Moran said discipline is admired
for many artistic areas and discipline must be a key part of a photographer’s
life. Constant study and focus (pun intended) are necessary
in order for a photographer to refine and grow his or her craft.

Gotta go. It’s late in the day and I still need to move my
art forward today…

Be the only one who does what you do

You don’t want merely want to be considered the best of the best. You want to be considered the only ones who do what you do. — Jerry Garcia

Indeed, to be “the best of the best” suggests that others occupy the same space as you, only you do it better by some form of measurement. If, on the other hand, you are the only one who does what you do, you create a new category, a new space, a new genre. The Grateful Dead did just that. They created their own genre of music and solely occupied this position. Interestingly – and a bit of a digression – the Dead encouraged attendees of their concerts to record the concert and share it with others – a very early form of free peer-to-peer file sharing that pre-dated the PC!

Still the message is clear – occupy your own creative space. Others may attempt to copy you but, again, you are the only one who does what you do, so their effort will come up short. Truely memorable creativity comes from those who look at life in their unique way and share this perspective with others so they may see life in a similar fashion.

Break away. Create that new form or style. Be the only one who does what you do.

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