Leon Battista Alberti, a fifteenth-century architectural theorist, said, “Errors accumulate in the sketch and compound in the model.”
When he needed an idea, Thomas Edison liked to sit in a “thinking chair” holding a metail ball bearing in each palm, with his hands closed. On the floor, directly under his hands, were two metal pie pans. Edison would close his eyes and allow his body to relax. Somewhere between consciousness and dreaming his hands would relax and open without effort, letting the ball bearing fall noisily into the pie pans. That’s when he would wake up and write down whatever idea was in his head at that moment. It was his way of coming up with ideas without his conscious mind censoring them.
As Goethe said, “He who cannot draw on three thousand years is living from hand to mouth.”
The great painters are incomparable draftsmen. They also know how to mix their own paint, grind it, put in the fixative; no task is too small to be worthy of their attention.
The great composers are usually dazzling musicians. They have to know their instrument before they can make it sing the tune in their head. Johann Sebastian Bach took this further, learning how to build organs as a young man and becoming one of Europe’s leading experts on its sound. He literally knew the instrument inside and out.
A great chef can chop and dice better than anyone in his kitchen.
One dancer I know insists her greatest skill is a talent for seduction. She told me that she grew up with a Siamese cat and a Great Dane, and she spent hours watching the cat gain control over the vastly larger dog. It was a life lesson in seduction, and she brings that skill with her every time she takes the stage.
Hemingway ….said, “The thing is to become a master and in your old age to acquire the courage to do what children did when they knew nothing.”
Analyze your own skill set. See where you’re strong and where you need dramatic improvement, and tackle those lagging skills first. …..In A Book of Five Rings, the sixteenth-century Japanese swordfighter Miyamoto Musashi counseled, “Never have a favourite weapon.”
The poet Paul Valery said, “A poem is never finished, only abandoned.”