Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Artist's Path - The Artist's Challenge - The Artist's Life Well Lived

Lessons I Learned from my firend Molly.

About Music, about Life about Life as an Artist.

I have been reflecting on the life of my oldest friend in the musical world.

In the Kansas City Star story my old friend Bob Brand mentioned Molly's empathy for the Artist, but remembered her exacting standards for the Art. The Yahoo News story also mentions the high musical standards, tempered by her skill in working with Actors.

Molly inherently realized what has been recently made the tour of headlines: 10000 hours.

The old joke really is true. The way to get to Carnegie Hall IS practice.

Whatever your medium. Whatever your tools. To become and Artist, you must first become a Journeyman Craftsman. You must know your medium and your chosen tool/instrument intimately. It must be second-nature, to consistently produce Art.

A person may be at the right place at the right time. Their point-and-shoot camera may perfectly expose the photograph. They may have an inherent sense of composition, or just happen to achieve the perfect framing. In short, anyone MIGHT be able to capture a truly great, breath-taking, life-changing picture.

They are just lucky.

To consistently take great photographs, one must understand composition, exposure, depth-of-field and a myriad of other factors. AND they must be so familiar with these concepts and their equipment, to be ready to capture that moment in time that becomes a great photograph.

Doing this consistently, makes one an Artist.

This is the limit of my comentary in the visual-arts world, as I can barely draw a straight line WITH a ruler. ;-) I feel that the principle should hold for the other visual mediums. The tools change, but one thing remains constant:


One must master Technique to consistently produce Art.

This of primary concern in the Performing Arts.

Only by eliminating any thought I have to HOW you are playing/singing/speaking this particular piece/song/dialog can you bring me into that special magical place where a performance trancends into Art.

Those of us who spend far too much of our lives in and around theaters, understand this. Or we should. Molly did. We have difficult challenges. We have to convince our audience of so many things.

That a few pieces of muslin, painted with skill are a Castle in Scotland.

That a few lights, pointed and filtered with care, are dappled sunshine.

That the Actor born in Raytown, is actually a Danish Prince.

And if any of these and all the the other hundred things that make the theatrical experience fail. That magical suspension bridge across the chasm of dis-belief crashes downward.

Molly started teaching me that lesson when we first meet, all those years ago, when that scared 9th grade boy closed his eyes during his first solo. And she taught it to generations of Actors and Singers.

And this is the Artist Path. To practice your Art. To hone your skills. To be prepared to create magic through your Medium.

Touch the World with and through your Art.

The Artist Challenge is to pass this knowledge on to fellow Artist. Molly accomplished this in so many ways. You Teach the World lessons through your Art. You make them think in new and exciting ways. But to maximize your impact on the world, to leverage your influence, teach other Artists the path. Not just through the studio or the class-room, but in everything you do. What do your fellow writers learn when you review their latest story? What do your fellow Actors learn from your rehearsal ethic?

Teach the World with and through your Art.

Great Art affects those who experience it. It changes them. It makes them, dare I say it?

Better Human Beings.

Transform the World with and through your Art.

Touch - Teach - Transform

This is the Challenge. This is the Artist Life, Well Lived.

This is the lesson I learned from my friend Molly.

Now, Go out and Change the World.