How Those That Did it Did it,
And How You Can do it too!
The ideas of simple shapes, largest simple shape, measuring, plumb lines and so forth are the mechanic of how you go about doing your work, these are the skills and craftsmanship necessary to get your work out here in the ‘real’ world.
There is however, wonderfully so, a much more fundamental understanding of what you are doing, and now we are going to get into it, so hold on …!
Earlier in this book we touched upon what it is the artist is attempting to achieve in his work, namely what he experienced as he was pulled into this particular subject. This experience can be anything under the sun, but the point in those paragraphs is that the artist is not primarily concerned with getting a good likeness of the subject, not that there is anything wrong with doing just that, it is fun just in itself, but when he is really into it, he is going well beyond just a reasonable likeness of the subject; he is not painting the subject but he is painting the experience that pulled him into doing that subject in the first place.
He is using the subject to paint a painting.
The subject of this section, ‘visualization’, is how the artist visualizes, gets a mental image, of how he wants to grasp that experience and bring it into this world.
‘Visualization’ is creating. When you create a mental picture, regardless of what it is, you are creating. The ability to create is probably the most powerful, most supreme ability you have, the only ability that may be senior is perhaps the intention to visualize, I guess.
And what is it the artist is visualizing? He is visualizing how to grasp this experience and put it down on the paper, or canvas, whatever. He is searching for what it is that recreates that experience for him, and how to get it down here into this lower realm.
There is not much you can ‘teach’ another about this as it is so personal and frankly doesn’t need to be taught, you already have all that.
Visualization: Bob’s Basic Theory
(The following is one of my many opinions, and as usual I’m not interested in defending it. Just assume that maybe there is something of value to you here and ask you to read it, and if it is an epic fail, dismiss it, but at least read it first.)
Art, in any of its forms, follows necessarily the laws of existence, whether known or not known. Why? Because it exists. No matter how ‘far out’, how ‘original’, how ‘never been done before’ the art product may be, it exists within a rather small and ruthlessly orchestrated universe.
You have to have an idea of what you want to do before you can do it. The ‘idea’ of something precedes that something. This ‘idea’ is your vision, your creation.
This is so basic, and so demonstrably true, that you could consider the following a universal axiom for human consciousness;
If you can get a mental picture of it, you know you know it.
If you cannot get a mental picture of it, you think you don’t know it.
Now take a very good look this; don’t just shrug it off. It is more valuable to you than a winning lottery ticket, so we are going to spend some time on it.
Mental pictures are usually how one knows that one knows something.
I guess you could say that it is a way that you acknowledge to yourself that you do know something.
The ‘mind’ is composed of those pictures. Proof is simple enough. If you want to know what you have in your pocket, how do you find out? You look at a mental picture of what is in your pocket. If you can’t get that exact picture, or one like it, then you don’t know what is in your pocket, and down goes your hand into your pocket to find out! If you want to explain to another how to get to your home, what do you do? You look at mental pictures of how you’d get home, and describe those to your friend. If you ‘lost’ something, what does that mean? It means you cannot find the mental picture of where it is. So what do you do? You start to look at all the pictures in your head trying to find the picture of where you put it, or where you last saw it. When you visualize that picture, you ‘know’ where it is. If you don’t visualize it, you don’t ‘know’ where it is, so you start looking for it.
What is the colour of your car? What are the colours of your socks? As you read this line, this very one you are eyes are pointing at right now, take a look and answer these questions, and pay attention to what you are doing when you ‘look’ for the answers. What are the colours of your socks? Answer the question. What is the colour of your car? What is the answer? How did you get to the studio? What is your favorite food? What chair are you sitting on? These pictures flash so fast, so automatically, you often don’t even notice them. But they are there, and that is how and why they work. Without them, you think you are stupid. You’re not really, but you will think that you are because you think you don’t ‘know’ anything.
So, there seems to be a very workable rule here;
No Picture = No Answer
At least that is the way you ‘think’. If you cannot visualize it, you don’t know it. How often have you heard that? “I can’t see what to do.” or “I see what you mean.” “Take a look and tell me.” It’s all throughout our language, so pay attention! These phrases give you a clue as to what it is you can do to help another person understand something!
How to Raise Your Ability to Visualize
So, how does one increase one’s ability to visualize, if it is such a hotshot thing! Well, to keep it short, the first thing is literacy, because it is from the concepts of words that you get ideas, and those concepts are in the definitions of those words. If you cannot define it, you don’t really, truly get it. If you don’t know the words, you can’t sing the song!
What you must do, and you can do, is to exercise your ability to visualize. How? Easy, you must deliberately and knowingly take over the mental automaticity that to this date did all that visualizing for you without your even noticing it was occurring. By exercising that ability, and it is an ability, some better at it than others, by exercising it you can become conscious of doing it, and you can regain control and be able to knowingly create what it is you want to create.
(You can even do so out in the ‘real’ world. Visualize your goals, your activities, and you will not only improve that ability, you will also get better at what it was you were visualizing. Try it and see. Some people are making millions of bucks telling others to do what you’ve just been told to do here.)
The drills we have for you to do, do work! So make sure you do them all.
You will now get a demonstration on how to regain control over your ability to visualize!
The purpose of this Visualization drill is to demonstrate to you the importance of those mental pictures in ‘knowing’ things, recognizing things, and gaining abilities.
CALL THE INSTRUCTOR, AND LET HIM/HER KNOW YOU ARE READY FOR THE VISUALIZATION DRILLS.
NOW YOU DRILL IT!
Do the following exercises as instructed and note how it is you get an answer; mark them off as you do them. If you have any questions, call the supervisor.
What is the colour of the walls in your kitchen? ________
When was the last time you saw your best friend? ________
What was the last present you gave someone? ________
How would you get home from here? ________
How would you raise your left arm? ________
What is 2+2, +10, -3, +8? ________
What are you going to do when class is over? ________
How old are you? ________
When did you eat last, and what was it? ________
What is your name? ________
What is the colour of your hair? ________
If you did the following per the instructions, you will realize that you use those pictures all the time, you just don’t realize it unless you pay attention.
VISUALIZING WHAT TO DO NEXT!
A datum is only as valuable as it can serve to discover relationships amongst other data, and this one on visualization seems to be of vast importance in any field of human activity. Call it, “Bob’s Theory of Stuff”, and maybe I can get rich!
That’d be cool.J
This theory on visualization opens the door to understanding many of the things we can observe around us.
If it is true that one needs to have the idea of something before one ‘knows’ that something, then it follows that in order for someone to know what to do ‘next’, they must have the ability to visualize what to do ‘next’.
So we have a variation on that ‘universal axiom’ mentioned above;
If you can get a mental picture of what to do next, you know what to do next.
If you cannot get a mental picture what to do next, you don’t know what to do next!
Again, this is not a minor point. You are being handed some gold here, so please! pay attention.
The whole procedure of acquiring an ability or skill, at this level of humanity, is to do enough of something that you know how to do it. What does ‘enough’ mean? It means that you know what to do next. What does this mean? It means that you can visualize what to do next. You can visualize what to do next so now you know what to do next, and so now you can go ahead and do it!
If you cannot get a mental picture of what to do next, you don’t ‘know’ what to do, and this is the reason why you are stuck where you are in any activity in which you are involved. This is why your level of ability is where it now is at, and why it is not any higher. You progress up to the point where you don’t know what to do next, and then you are stopped.
This is not limited to study or skill such as painting or building bridges. It has to do with everyday life. If you want to write a book, but don’t know how, the odds are you have come up against doing the next thing to do, but you don’t know what that next thing to do is. Well, that is because you cannot get a mental picture of what to do. If you want to play guitar, but can’t, why? Because you can’t visualize what to do next. That is all that the barrier consists of, nothing more, the ability to see what to do next.
The question you need to ask yourself is “What can I do to find out what I have to do next?”
Interesting question when you look at it… It’ll open any closed door, any ceiling you are experiencing.
So, what is ‘the’ problem all artists have to overcome?
Knowing what to do next!
There is no other problem.
And what is ‘the’ solution to that problem?
Gaining the ability to visualize what to do next!
There is no other solution.
I’ll repeat that; there is no other problem, and there is no other solution.
Pretty brash and bold, but it at least has enough truth to it that you’d better be paying attention! no kidding!
When one cannot visualize what to do, then one has the resultant confusions. Working through the confusion, using workable data gets one through those confusions, and then one has more experience and so can visualize better what to do ‘next’. This is the reasoning behind repetitive drilling in various fields and why it works. Repetition gives you experience. This experience gives you the ability to visualize, and thus to predict, and thus to do. Fooling around, experimenting, also gives you experience, and from that you may stumble onto what to do next. An artist ‘studies’ something so that they can then visualize what to do, and they will keep on studying it until they can see what to do next.
You will now get a brief demonstration by the supervisor on how to regain control over visualization.
The purpose of this demonstration and the drills that follow is to get you more aware of what you are presently doing almost unconsciously. You are drilling taking over a mechanism you’ve put on automatic before you even knew it existed. I suspect it came into existence the same time you did.
CALL THE INSTRUCTOR, AND LET HIM/HER KNOW YOU ARE READY FOR THE VISUALIZATION DRILLS.
NOW YOU DRILL IT!
Go and get some of the black and white drawing books from the bookshelf, and bring them back to your bench if you wish, or take a chair to the bookshelf.
Leaf through these drawing books, and practice visualizing them as not black on white, but black on some other colour. Just picture the page being another colour. Do this until you feel comfortable doing it.
Then visualize the black lines on the white paper as different coloured lines on the white paper. Do this a lot of times. It may seem strange, and you may question the value of what you are doing, but what you doing here is really gaining control of a mechanism that you have had on automatic since you first ‘appeared’.
When you feel comfortable, go onto the next set of drills.
Then with those same black and white sketches, visualize them being fully coloured, such as in a painting. It doesn’t matter particularly what colours you visualize. Grass doesn’t have to be green, nor the skies blue. Just pick a black and white drawing and view it as if it was a painting or something like that.
Now go and put the drawing books back to where you found them -so I don’t have to do if for you after you leave- and pick up some of the other books of paintings, maybe by artists you like.
Now we will do something similar to the above. Leaf through the books, and visualize paintings as how they would look as if they were a simple sketch, black on white. This may be a little more complex, but don’t worry if you can’t ‘remember’ how each part of the painting would look as a drawing as you look at different parts of the painting. Just do what you can, pick areas you can easily visualize as a drawing, and do that part. Don’t worry if you cannot do the entire painting all at once. Do this for several paintings, and don’t be too quick about it. Really DO it!
Then leaf through the book again, and this time visualize the paintings with parts being altered a bit. Maybe the ‘boat’ is full this time, or full of ‘cows’, or the ‘grass’ is really ‘gravel’. Just alter what you visualize in the painting into something else when you visualize it. Do this for several paintings. Again, don’t be concerned if you cannot visualize the entire painting all at once, just pick out parts you can do, and do them.
Now do it again, but this time visualize the paintings being done in different colours.
Call the supervisor when you are done.