Wax on, Wax off

As some of you know I’ve become a sports fan this year because of Ducks football. Not just because the Ducks seemed destined to go to the National Championship this season, but because of the way they approached the endeavor.  Despite Coach Kelly’s confidence that his team could be champions, each player’s participation in  the sport was not about the game but about the preparation. It was about each day.  It wasn’t about the big outcome, it was about being present and committed each step of the way, staying focused on the task at hand and not the potential glory days– still keeping their passion alive for each pass, each run, each block, kick and tackle.

On the field they were slow to tire and they didn’t doubt even when they were behind. They knew their job and did it to the best of their ability with a quiet confidence. They did not expect perfection, therefore they were willing to take risks.  When the risks worked out the pay-off may have been big.  When they didn’t work out there was no time for self-flagellation. They just got back to doing their job.  “Wax on, wax off”–(Karate Kid.)

And they still had fun.  They did not lose sight of the fact that it is a game, a past time that teaches as it gives them pleasure.  Sure there are a few players who might go pro, but the other eighty players do it for the joy of the game. (Leave out all thoughts of college-aged hormones.)

Coach Kelly teaches a Zen-like philosophy with his football that is clear to me when I watch his team and listen to what he says.  It mirrors the way I  think about painting.  Concern with the process not the outcome, doing what it takes to keep focus and passion alive, being willing to take risks knowing that failure is just another lesson learned and having fun while exploring limits of our capabilities.  Good philosophy for football and life—and essential for creativity.

This week we are still focusing on choosing a subject.  If you liked what you chose last week and want to explore it further–great! See what new ways you can look at it, what new ideas it might spark.  But if your subject proved difficult or uninspiring, try to figure out why. Then choose another asking these questions  Does your it offer you “good bones” giving you a workable structure? Does it allow you to use it make an original statement?  Does it give you an emotional charge when you look at it? Is it something you can stay connected to? Does it feed you?  It will be fun to see the new ideas.

Those pesky sketchbooks:   Tuesday looks like a good sketchbook day.  I will be at the warmed studio doodling away by 4:00–anyone is welcome to join.  If you want to bring food, fine, if not fine–we have lots of apples and cheese and if we stay long and get too hungry we can always order a pizza. I turn into a pumpkin early, so will want to leave by 8:00.

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2 Responses to Wax on, Wax off

  1. Marlie Ranslam says:

    I really like your comparison of the Ducks and Coach Kelly’s focus and process ( and Karate Kid wax on wax off) to the art process! It resinates with me on multiple levels.

    • joanngilles says:

      Thanks! I’m glad it makes sense. I tend to connect the dots of many different things and I see everything relating to painting a vice versa. The lessons are far-reaching for me.

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