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Practice is Philosophy

Post #1579 • November 29, 2012, 11:57 AM • 1 Comment

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From Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice by Ivan Brunetti:

The diligent student can read entire books on these subjects [such as perspective, lettering, figure drawing, and the like], but the deepest realizations come to us from the daily practice of drawing. It is the pencil that teaches best, and anyway the trees of theory can obscure the forest of practice. I would go so far as to say that practice is philosophy, for practice itself encompasses philosophy, and philosophy without practice is shallow indeed. A lengthy description of a glass of water is no substitute for the experience of drinking a glass of water; so it is with art.

Often I will illustrate certain unwritten laws or other principles of comics, but then I will show my students work by great cartoonists that violates that same conventional wisdom. Rules are really just a safety net that allows us to get started; once the pencil hits the paper, everything changes, and one has to allow the ideas, characters, and stories to take on a life of their own. I am less concerned with "right and wrong" than with "good and bad." Often the best, most affecting work that students produce is surprising, unexpected, and not exactly the most polished.

Of course, there is a certain kind of student who will never "get" it, usually a narcissist blind to his shortcomings, not self-critical and often hostile to constructive appraisal. This type of student rarely if ever produces anything interesting to others (who could possibly stand someone so pleased with themselves?), instead concerning himself with facility over labor, style over substance, and showoffy technique over clarity. This type of student never sees form and content as inseparable expressions of the same truth, and usually slaps an inappropriate facade over a shaky foundation.

Comment

1.

Chris Rywalt

November 29, 2012, 12:46 PM

I am less concerned with "right and wrong" than with "good and bad."

I wonder if this might sum up the problem with so much contemporary art: It's more worried about right and wrong (and moving between them, in the "right" way, of course) than it is about good and bad.

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