Saturday, November 24, 2012

Grace From Perceived Deficiency

So many ways to harvest imagination. Some hear chords of brilliant music, others build towering structures. I have always been fascinated by those who can draw from something they see only in the mind. I have no aptitude for this art & have tried to master the technique of accurately representing an image on paper but to no avail. It has long fascinated me—how do painters recognize the details & hold them long enough in focus to reproduce intricacies? My fascination with this skill borders on envy.

Like learning to draw, mastering the ability to write lucidly requires a heightened perception. How does the line of a pencil twist & bend to create the likeness of an actual object? How can a string of words describe an event? Both skills work from imagination, informed by something found in a present reality.

It is recognition which engages the response of an audience; it is the familiar re-interpreted which connects artist & audience. All authentic art comes from that kernel of actuality & the skill to translate this onto a page is what defines aptitude, or if further advanced, competence. Both distinctions require patience & discipline.

But what to do about this not being able to draw? Books became an exile & I have passed many hours of this life lost in worlds created by those who believed they had a story to tell. As a child, I read only fiction but after I left school & realized there were large gaps in my knowledge of the world, I began to read non-fiction. Hungry for a more comprehensive understanding of life, I started a sequence of reading. One book lead to the next, though they did not have to be connected by subject. I read carefully, often with a dictionary. I discovered the power of language —words possessed a far greater accuracy than I had previously realized.

Vocabulary grew.

{Artwork by Ronnie Jiang}