Reading, Writing and Painting
I was reading in bed last night and got up to jot down an idea I had about the similarities between reading, writing and painting. All three of these disciplines require concentration and most importantly practice. They all have differences, but can be very similar in their ability to transport the writer, reader or artist into a flow state on non-thinking.
I've been thinking a lot (as always) about painting and the fact that painting isn't about slapping paint around and expecting a beautiful result, it requires concentration, patience and a deliberate touch. In the same way that you can't read a book by running your eyes along a page, you have to be present and read each word.
As I said, it takes a lot of practice and I don't think it's something that you can develop quickly. I started developing myself into a reader early in college because I saw how much I was missing out by not reading. I used to read a lot when I was a kid and I always did the required reading in high school, but I wanted to really become a "reader".
I started off with this grand ambition of reading Moby Dick (unabridged) which of course is like trying to bench press 225 lb. your first time in the gym. Or maybe like trying to write a huge novel as your first piece of writing. In painting, it's like trying to paint a full length portrait if you're just starting out. You need to start small and build up the muscles.
So I started out with smaller books and worked my way up to longer, more complex, ones-- my favorite of which is IQ84 by Haruki Murakami, which is just under 1000 pages and took me 6 months to read. I'm not a fast reader, but I read consistently and make deliberate progress.
I hope this comparison sheds some light on different ways to think about art and how it's never easy (nor should it be).
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