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Reading Between the Lines

Posted By Alex Belth On January 28, 2011 @ 1:14 pm In Art of the Night,Arts and Culture,Bronx Banter,Contemporary,Creative Process,Links: Sportswriting,Sportswriting | Comments Disabled

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Over at Pitchers and Poets, Eric Nusbaum picks up [2] on the conversation started by Chris Jones [3] and furthered in this space yesterday [4]:

Jones, in his blog post, writes that “we are taught to believe that words have a value, a power, a weight.” I was lucky. I was taught by my father that for this very reason, words are to be dispensed with great care. If you can’t say something succinctly, don’t say it at all. Or as Ted reminds me sometimes when I send him drafts of long essays, “try harder.”

In this vein, we must all be careful not to use economy as a crutch. I know I have a tendency to do this. Instead of pushing an idea further, to the brink of collapse, I fall back on minimalism. The less you say, the less you are responsible for. This has mostly been an appreciation for Belth’s “power and beauty of restraint.” But I hope it can also be a warning to myself and to others: don’t use restraint as a tool for cheating. And don’t use it for gimmickry either.

When I was doing a lot of drawing, I had a linear style that bordered on minimalism. On one hand, I was interested in capturing gesture and feeling by indicating a figure with the fewest amount of lines possible. When it worked, as I think it does in the pictures here, I was pleased with the results. Eventually, though, I knew that I was cheating. I stopped looking at the subject, really looking, and let my hand do all the work. Then I’d get halfway through a drawing and stop. I’d fall in love with what I’d done and didn’t want to push myself, try harder. In other words, I became overly self-conscious, even precious, and the minimalism became an excuse to avoid failure.

I was more concerned with the finished product  than the process, and ultimately, I hit a dead end. Which reminds me of something an old friend once said, “If it’s easy, you aren’t doing it right.” At times, a drawing or a sentence will come easily, and that’s fine, but if the process becomes too easy, you are probably cheating.

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URL to article: http://www.bronxbanterblog.com/2011/01/28/reading-between-the-lines/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://bronxbanter.arneson.name/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/paintings-041.jpg

[2] Pitchers and Poets, Eric Nusbaum picks up: http://pitchersandpoets.com/2011/01/28/the-power-and-danger-of-restraint/

[3] the conversation started by Chris Jones: http://sonofboldventure.blogspot.com/2011/01/words-that-arent-there.html

[4] furthered in this space yesterday: http://www.bronxbanterblog.com/2011/01/27/the-beauty-of-restraint/

[5] Image: http://bronxbanter.arneson.name/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/paintings-056.jpg

[6] Image: http://bronxbanter.arneson.name/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/paintings-055.jpg

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