Building on the idea of marginal drawings, I have been exposing students to the ugly process that is an integral part of creating art. The idea is not new, not my own, but is often overlooked. Other disciplines teach that learning takes practice, trial and error. Art has an ignorant concept of genius, divine inspiration, and shamanism that removes the idea of effort from the work and makes people believe (falsely) that art requires talent without effort and that an artist either is born with it or not. The public face of any artist is that of her/his best work. If you were allowed to see every page of a sketchbook, every scribbled-upon napkin, every franticly scrawled idea in the margins, you would see a handful of good ideas scattered among many failures and incomplete thoughts. Some good ideas are complete accidents, most are the result of effort, work, trying, thinking, doing. Of course the good ideas are given attention as the artist develops them into full bodies of work.
I call this latest set of marginal drawings "Marginally Academic Drawings" because they have some kind of focus. The idea is to create a sketch based on a simple idea, a simple set of rules, and build on the mistakes to create variations of the first idea. This strategy is used very successfully in music. From my own music collection, I immediately think of this strategy when I listen to the drumming of Neal Peart, the music of Medeski, Martin, and Wood, or Charles Mingus. I call it academic because some rules exists (as opposed to completely free-form) and some of the forms that evolve look like many art school projects (without regard to the academic rhetoric attached to the forms).
I share these marginally academic drawings in this blog because this blog is not formal, and is kept mostly for my own entertainment. I have also found, quite happily, that revealing the working process of creativity does encourage my students to start working (and keep working) on their own projects. It reveals that art is much deeper than the finished, packaged product in the gallery and contains many processes that are not revealed in the limited space of an artist's website.