Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tastes awful, but it's good for ya'

It's an interesting reality that most often, the things that are good for us are also a huge pain in the ass.   Go out for a jog?  Sure it's good for my long term health, but eating frosting out of the can is more immediately gratifying.  Read that book?  I can probably find somebody reenacting the Cliff's Notes version on YouTube.  Sure I'll learn less, but I'll learn less in much less time, leaving me more hours to watch ninja cat videos and musicalized versions of IQ draining crap.  Take that class?  Well, that brings us to to the point of this post.

I've taken a few photography classes at the New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts.  I like having a fixed day of the week to do photo-y stuff.  The most recent one I signed up for is called "finding your vision"...something, something, something...  It has more of a fine art tilt than I've previously been exposed to.  That creates a problem for me.  I've never considered myself an artist, nor do I envision myself pursing such purely "artistic" endeavors.  I'm not going to get into my philosophies on the arts here.  We all have our motivations for doing things, and those motivations can be vastly different.

We're supposed to try to pick a common theme for the class and then use the bi-weekly lecture topics to shoot a few images relating to that theme.  The images will be presented and we'll get feedback on whether we're being effective in communicating whatever it is that we're trying to say with our images.  Challenges:  (1) I have no idea what theme to use, and (2) I've never given much of a thought about what I'm trying to communicate with my pictures.  Sure, sure, every picture is supposed to tell a story, but can't I just enjoy capturing things, people, places, moments that are interesting to me?

This isn't going to be easy.  After one class, it was clear that I just don't think like an art school guy. I spend my entire work day using logic and data to accomplish things (not that it always works).  Sitting still is difficult enough for me (I'm the annoying guy drumming with my knife and fork at restaurants), but I can't even think of a decent analogy for having to sit still while listening to people subjectively interpret hypothetical images.  I get to enjoy this change of mindset after a nice long day of dealing normal work challenges; after work hours I could be spending eating pepperoni slices and watching MacGyver reruns.  Why do this?

Like exercising or reading or getting a full night of sleep, it's going to be a pain in the ass, but it'll be good for me.  Forcing yourself out of your comfort zone forces you to learn; to learn about yourself, or in the least, to learn about others.  After however many weeks this class goes, I'll probably have been stretched out of my comfort zone enough to admit that I've learned something even if I bitch about it every step of the way.  I think the old Popeye cartoons are a relevant analogy in this case.  That canned spinach must have tasted like crap, but it always helped him overcome his obstacles.  Hopefully this class will be as good for me as the steroid infused super-vegetables that Popeye used to find violent solutions to his problems.  I'll be sure to keep you posted.

**Side note -- as a result of setting up this picture I now know that my cat likes eating spinach.  Must formulate optimal blend of greenery and fish and sell recipe to cat food moguls.

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