The Art Of Self…

The Learning Of Art

I struck up a conversation with an acquaintance while in town shopping for produce the other day.  In ten minutes the conversation went from spinach to politics, to religion, finally segueing into art.  I had not known he was an artist.  I asked what media he worked in; oils, pastels, water colors, pencil, etc.  That answer and subsequent conversation isn’t relevant, but the terms media and art got me thinking.

Art knows many mediums from bronze, to paints, musical notes , the written word, and even Photo Shop in this era.  We begin learning about art at a young age, often times from the crude media of popsicle sticks, crayons, working our way into watercolors, and maybe even clay by the 3rd grade.  By the time our children leave school we hope they are proficient in some form of art, and have an appreciation for its value in society.

Most quit practicing the arts they learn in school as soon as they graduate.  It seems true that during the school years, art isn’t as often cultivated or nourished at home by mom or dad the way math, science, and reading are.  Though some do continue practicing art well into adulthood, I’ll suggest for the majority, learning art is just a small part of basic education.

The Media We Are Born With

We all carry an artistic medium within us.  Not the creativity behind the art, but the media itself.  Only a small percentage though, will ever become proficient in working with this potential media.  I like to think of muscle as an artistic medium.  Muscle is quite malleable.  When worked regularly and supported with proper nutrition, muscle can boast a beautiful result.   What is unique about the medium of muscle, is that well-formed muscles never end up just hanging on a wall or sitting on a shelf.  A beautiful work in muscle goes everywhere its artist goes.

A work in the media of muscle doesn’t just get seen, it also gets seen in movement; walking tall, carrying things thought too heavy to carry, tensing more as the load increases – changing in shape as the load shifts.  Whether it’s a weight being moved in the gym, or that big water bottle being moved at the grocery store, when muscle is winning its game over gravity eyes stay fixed.  Muscle also looks good, bare or draped.  Throw a cloth over a painting and who knows what’s underneath.  Drape some muscle, put it in action and an observer can’t help but note the art.

The Majority Report

There is a lesser media to work with in the human form, and these works are far too common.  Many more people work in the medium of what I will just refer to as loosely packed muscle; body fat.  That kind of art goes everywhere with the artist as well, and when it is draped it’s as distinguishable as muscle – more so when in motion, though it doesn’t look quite as good.  A work in loosely packed muscle isn’t really a work; it’s more a result.  The result of throwing some food at the canvas of life’s problems and accepting whatever happens.  I point no finger here.  I have worked in the art of loosely packed muscle myself – multiple times.  Loosely packed muscle is the chaos of the body art world and there is nothing avant garde about it – it’s the glue and macaroni art of the human form.

Back To School

We actually do learn another art in school; the art of crafting the body.  Though PE programs have faltered in recent years due to budget cuts, as have art and music programs, PE is still a part of most public education systems.  Children are taught to exercise in school and given a chance to practice what they learn on a regular basis. Like coloring and sculpting, the art of exercise isn’t often cultivated or nourished at home the way math, science, and reading are.

A trend we have all observed is the tendency to give up the art of exercise not long after we give up art in charcoal and clay – when it’s no longer required at school.  Graduation sets in, money is pursued and the art of influencing the human aesthetic is abandoned by the masses.  Though some do continue practicing the art of exercise well into adulthood, for the majority, learning the art of exercise is just a small part of basic education.

I’ll Take A Medium Please…

Wherever one falls on the fitness spectrum, I encourage everyone to think of the body more as an artistic media; a canvas to be worked on and presented to the world.  It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece, just a work in progress.  Dedicating a little time to it each day can yield a better functioning and more attractive product.  Exercising the body – practicing the art of muscle modification is much more rewarding than gluing popsicle sticks or coloring between the lines established by others.  Working in the media of muscle is personal.  With consistency, the artist’s abilities will advance, the media will improve in form, and like many works of art, will increase in value over time.  Be well.  rc

Please check back in 2 weeks to see what happens when I push the stop button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there is this from Bob Walkenhiorst.  Baseball season is upon us.  Let us not forget the past.  Enjoy…

8 responses

  1. I am wondering if what we see as good or bad in the physical realm is a learned behavior or genetic? I do have my opinion 🙂

    I may have put away my formal art for a while to become a doctor, but in time, I happily found it again.

    I’ve also discovered that for the true artist, life is the medium.

  2. Wonderful essay Roy. I always appreciate what you have to share.

    I think of the artist, Michaelangelo, and the way he viewed his sculptures. Having been to Florence and seen the David,and the four prisoners (his unfinished sculptures), I was fascinated learning about him. He carefully chose his marble from the quarry. He didn’t look at his job to create something new, but to chip away the unnecessary pieces to allow the masterpiece that was already in there to emerge.

    Back in the gym, and thanks to your guidance, I’m trying to visualize what I want to create..and to get the courage to allow what’s somewhere already in there to be molded, and chip away at the unnecessary pieces. I’ll never be a “David” , but as long as I focus on progress, I’m becoming more confident of what I’m capable of. When I am starting to get really challenged with a rep of an exercise, I really try to focus on what it is I’m working towards.

    As far as physical education in the schools, I don’t know about elsewhere, but I have to say I’m quite impressed with the physical ed in my kids elementary school. They WORK those kids and keep them moving! 🙂

    I cannot imagine a day without the creative juices flowing. Creativity, in all it’s forms, is a beautiful thing and a pity to go wasted.

    • A great point on the sculpture Julie! Indeed the end product is already within! Glad you’re back in the gym! And most PE programs I’m familiar with are not what they were 30 years ago. But you live in New Hampshire, where school still matters 🙂

  3. I’ve been thinking about what you said about muscle being a medium in which to work creatively. I’ve never really thought of our bodies as art that we each can sculpt or mold by physical activity. It resonated with me though because the human form is something all artist learn early to draw, paint, sculpt, or photograph and usually the models are sleek and sveldt or muscular. So if you can learn to create the human form on paper or canvas, why not within your own body? In that way, we can all be artists.

  4. I think it is quite beautiful the way you present the human body as a work of art here. It is so true. I have come to look at myself as an amazing work of art as well. I want to be in the best shape possible to honor this gift of life that I have been given!!!

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