What Does Bob Know About Art Anyway?

“You don’t learn how to be an artist by going to school. It’s something you’re born with. It’s about observing the world – but laying down your own truth.” 

The quote above was at the end of Jim’s post today, credited to Bob Lefsetz. Before I continue on about Lefsetz I want to say that I could clearly see what Jim was trying to achieve with his post but by heck did he go about it the wrong way!

I believe it was Jim’s response to a ‘fan’ on SMOG having a bitch about Berenice’s ‘inability’ (in their eyes) to play the keyboard parts to Simple Minds songs correctly or fluently. The criticism was harsh and quite frankly unjust. All a guise for another “please can we have Mick, Derek and Mel back” endless fucking moan. I’m not going to get onto that topic – been there, done that…sssoooo fucking over it it hurts! 

Rightfully Jim highlighted that by listing her talents, Berenice is a more than capable musician and musical artist. Her parents are musicians, her brother, etc. She’s worked with countless others and produces work used on scores for television series, and collaborates with Glenn Gregory on the project Afterhere, among other things. If I listed all her work and credentials, this part of the post would go on for some time.

What brought it all crashing down for me (Jim’s post) and got my hackles up was the fucking Lefsetz quote! To me, it instantly sabotaged the whole reason why Jim was highlighting Berenice in the post in the first place. 

Let’s break this down. I believe someone can have a natural aptitude for something – especially when it is something that’s creative. Those that have it can find their development of their creativity ‘easier’ – ie: less strenuous, less methodical, less complex (perhaps), less developmentally difficult to achieve than those with seemingly no natural aptitude for the creative arts. But to say we’re ‘born with it’? Like an elusive “ta daaa” – just magicked up to you from…God…? No! It just isn’t true. 

I AM GOING TO LEARN HOW TO ARGUE THIS POINT IF IT KILLS ME! I want to put my counter argument across effectively and coherently, so the outcome is that Jim reconsiders ever quoting Bob fucking Lefsetz ever again! 

I feel let down on Berenice’s behalf with that quote because it takes away the hours of learning. The hours and hours of artistic development that has happened to get her where she is now. It takes away Jim’s counter argument to Mr Bring-back-Mick-Derek-Mel that Berenice has a rightful place in the band right now as the keyboard player as she is more than qualified to be there. 

Bob Lefsetz – a man who studied Art History at Middlebury College in Vermont (Wikipedia, 2022), really should know better from that education of his that artist development is LEARNED and you are NOT ‘born with it’.

You can develop art without schooling, yes, granted. But you are not born with these skills. Much like you’re not born already walking, talking, being able to use a toilet, knowing how to feed yourself, or cook, do mathematical equations, or write words down on a page, or draw a cat. 

My last week of study was REALLY hard. What I write here on my blog comes (mostly) naturally to me. It’s lovely when people tell me that I write well and I have a good way of expressing myself but I want to build on that. That is why I am doing this diploma at the OU. I want to progress. I want to GROW. I want to develop artistically. Because TRUE artists DEVELOP – THEY ARE NOT BORN WITH IT – THEY LEARN IT AND MAKE IT HAPPEN! 

What I was learning with my study this week – none of that comes naturally to me and it never has: creating characters, scenes, imagery, developing plots, etc, etc. I ended the study week feeling that it was something, with time, that I could develop and possibly end up having some grasp of and maybe even be good at…with a lot of practice. 

I was ssooo scared of this week of study. Scared and, to be honest, somewhat cynical. Because we have this wonderful, romantic notion that writers just spew forth their work. That it’s already all just there on their heads and they write it down. NO! The most incredible thing I learned this week was just what an incredibly hard graft it can be for some writers to get a novel produced. The many, many hours it takes, especially with redrafting and editing.

Towards the end of the week of study we were invited to (as we are during every week of coursework) take some optional further study. I generally always work through some if not all of the optional further study each week as I have the luxury of time on my side that a lot of my fellow students don’t. This week there were some audio clips to listen to with writers talking about the creative writing process and how they go about character development, genre of writing, narrative and structure (plot and story arcs), and lastly about redrafting and editing. One of the writers speaking was Tim Pears and he spoke about there being two types of writer; those who were good at redrafting and editing their own work, and those that needed help from an editor. Initially he felt that he fell under the first category and that he was quite adept at editing his own work. After a time he realised this was NOT the case and produced much better work with an editor helping him. Before we listened to the final audio clip, we were asked to think about how long we would think the writing of a novel would take on average. I thought I read somewhere some time back that it took about four months. For a first draft at least anyway. Some tweaks, etc…maybe six months, possibly eight. Published within a year, right? Well…Tim Pears said it would take him EIGHT MONTHS to get a first draft together and the redrafting and editing would take another TWO YEARS!!!!!

Lastly, I just want to mention Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘10,000 hours rule’, playing Devil’s advocate as I do so because Gladwell’s theory has by and large been debunked, but – the fundamental piece of it is  – that it takes MANY HOURS of practice to develop skills is the key. Okay, we can also bring in the thing about giving chimps typewriters and after X amount of time they’ll produce the works of Shakespeare, ya da ya da – but the point of it all is – NO ONE IS BORN WITH IT!

If you’re born with it, why would you need to practice? Why would you have to hone your craft? Why would you produce some great work and some not-so-great work? 

And Bob Lefsetz can kiss my ass! (What is it they say about opinions and arseholes? 🤔😜)

And…I should reference this all properly, get my referencing skills honed…but this is for my blog and I cannae be arsed. Having said that, the Wiki reference to Lefsetz’s schooling is a clickable link.

She Bangs The Drums – Badly…

Some of you might like to see how pathetic I am behind the kit? Well…if you want to waste 30 minutes of your life, you can watch this video!

Enjoy! (Please be kind! Someone needs to be. My tutor told me to be kind to myself today, but it’s impossible. I suck!)

The camera angle sucks too. If you like big women, you’re in for a treat. Gawp at my fat ass for 25 minutes! Lol

Drum Lesson And Practice – June 29th, 2019

Yesterday was the first tuition I’ve had in two months. Gareth was great. Started me back right from scratch, really. We went right back to basics. We worked on stick grip, rudiments, grooves and fills.

I can’t really talk a lot about it…not really going into much detail. And it felt a lot to take in yesterday because I was so apprehensive about it, but really excited too. There was a lot to take in. Well, it felt a lot yesterday and because I’m so anxious about it all, not everything sinks in immediately.

I checked with Gareth that he wouldn’t mind me recording the lesson. He was fine with that. I won’t be sharing any of that, but I will still share a bit of my own practice here and there.

I’m really thankful that he’s okay with me recording because as it was with Cherisse, upon playback, things register better. My brain absorbs the information better and I always have it to reference it.

I’m about halfway through listening to yesterday’s lesson…and I just lost it. Gareth had me playing along to (rather ironically) No Woman No Cry…and I just started blubbing like a fool. I could just feel it and I could see him in the room with me, helping me keep to the beat, dancing around the room to it and it was just lovely thinking about it…and I just lost it, I feel like an idiot! (I’m crying all over again typing this out! I’m such an oversensitive idiot.)

I’ve just wanted this for so, so long. It was like the 8 year old me was in that room yesterday, learning.

As you get older…once you get to adulthood, you just think all this stuff is just too late. That it’s too late and you’ve missed your chance and it’s all gone. “Don’t bother now. It’s too late. You’re too old. You can’t afford it. And you’ll never learn. You’ll never pick it up. Your mind is young enough. You won’t be as much of a sponge.”

I still feel like that. The adult me says…”You’re 48! Why bother now? Where’s the money gonna come from? How will anything sink in?”

And then I was listening to the lesson and how it was all sinking in and just listening to the playing. Hearing myself play to Bob Marley…and it’s joyous and liberating and wonderful and that 8 year old is there inside saying “Wow. This is cool. I’m getting this. And my teacher is cool. And we’re having fun. And I’m learning and playing…”

And now my face is an absolute mess!

Such a silly cow.

So yesterday was wonderful. And I still want this. More than ever.

But how I continue to do? Who knows…

We’ll see.

Giving Yourself A Break While Fighting The Black Dog

This evening I played the recording of Saturday’s practice back. And, okay, yep. I do think I am probably being incredibly hard on myself.

But… I need to be don’t I? Otherwise how the fuck am I ever going to get any better? Yes?

But… I am so thankful I took the advice of Emily Dolan Davies (click on her name to be taken to her fab website A Drummer’s Guide To) – otherwise I’d believe week after week that I am playing far worse than I am. It ebbs and flows, obviously. On Saturday I was SUPER down on myself. Just felt completely fucked up.

But I really wasn’t as bad as I thought.
YES! I still had my moments. I really did struggle with my hi hat timing and rhythm this week…but…I need to learn to give myself a break.

What makes it harder is when, at the point you are having your kit practice, not only are you questioning why you continue to do it, but you are questioning the much grander thought and perplexity of the existence of the entire human race.

Actually, this week was odd. For once I didn’t actually find myself questioning why I was there practicing. I suppose I felt I had much bigger fish to fry this week. What would be the point of me questioning why I was at drumming practice when I was more preoccupied with pondering why I am even here on the planet at all! Why we’re all here.

I feel the only why to fight the black dog is to suppress his bark. Engage a metaphorical mute button. Put earplugs in to drown him out. When he looks his most vicious…just smile at him. It’s hard. You have to just snap the brain (and this is just my own personal way around it…and thankfully it works most of the time – if it ever fails, I am going to be in BIIIIG trouble!) into that mindset. No matter how delusional it may feel. And it does to me. 100%! I feel I am absolutely deluding myself to put it at the back of my mind and smile and carry on.

The other way that also works is..acceptance. There is no rhyme and reason to us being here. We just…are. So…for whatever way you live your life…however way you live through it…just do it. And just…strive to be the best version of you that you can be.

So…no more about THAT “black dog”…let’s have THIS Black Dog instead!

Drumming Practice – May 26th

I don’t know if this will be a weekly thing or what. I’m not sure I’ll be brave enough to share much.

I think I’ve been doing this a month now. Well, I’ve had four sessions now. Two hours each time. With varying levels of “success”. It’s still early days, of course. I’ve only had three lessons with Cherisse, spaced about three weeks apart and it’s been about 5 weeks since my last lesson.

Today felt kinda good. I’m accepting I am shit. It’s just how it is. How can I be anything else? I had my first lesson with Cherisse in March. I mean…not quite three months in with a total of three hours of lessons and eight hours of kit practice.

I’ll give it time. But I really don’t sense any natural ability in myself. I feel like I have atrocious rhythm and my hi hat playing is just awful! But today, I came up with my own little rhythm to practice. Below is a little sample of it.

Oh, I do wish I could turn back the clock…

What Stirs The Soul And Practice Makes Perfect

I awake to the beginnings of Sons And Fascination playing in my ears this morning. I’m sure it was that strange percussive sound that did it. A LinnDrum? I’m sure it must be some kind of drum sample. I’d ask Brian, but you know…always worried I’m a pest (I can hear Jim shouting “you don’t care about whether you’re pestering ME!” – that is where you are wrong, Mr Kerr! I always care. Far too much, probably.)

It’s by the by and will now show me up to be the true pest I am once I share this. Full of typos, hence the stream of consciousness. Composed whilst thinking about how the song was making me feel being awoken by it this morning…here’s the result shared on the SMO FB visitor wall.

As a side note – and I am sure Cherisse won’t mind me mentioning it as it is only to do with my continued opportunities to practice drums until I get a kit – I can book a rehearsal room that I have my lessons in for an affordable cost and get an hour’s practice in!

To practice on an actual kit will make ssooooo much difference. And although it still doesn’t mean I can practice on an actual kit EVERY DAY, it will mean I can get an hour’s real practice in (on an actual kit) every Saturday or Sunday (weekends will work out the cheapest for me, with Saturdays being the most convenient).

It’s a few stops down the train line just before you get to the busier stops of London and means I can get a return train journey on the line for as little as £6 on the weekend (and during public holidays).

The place was offering a free hour of rehearsal space during May, on a Monday or Friday. So I looked into what’s available this bank holiday Monday and I can have a room for an hour for free. Nearly all the music rehearsal rooms have drum kits in them, so I can just go on in and practice! I am ssoooo excited about this!

Also, kind of gutted it means I won’t have any actual lessons with Cherisse for a while (Kelly Jones tour and all that). But I have homework and things to work on and practice with and I am dead, dead excited to learn.

So my first solo practice hour is costing me all of £6! How cool is that?
Here’s to many more hours behind the kit. 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻

Pimp My Sir. Lol

Tried working on perspectives today. Tried to do a whole A3 sized image today. Over ambitious, really. Jim’s face itself is fairly good, I think. Tried a picture with him open lipped today. The teeth are…as with the mouth…something I need to work on! Noses are getting better. Definitely learning “less is more” when it comes to noses.

Body is out of proportion. Position of shoulders not right, and just a little large. Arms are ok-ish. His left arm is quite good (his arms are REALLY lean in this. Ooh, I do love a slim Jim! *shallow*). I SSOOO gave up on the hands! His hands are clasped together in the most akward “steeple and church” manner!

And the detail on the shirt is ssssooo not in proportion. Maybe it’s time consider going to an art class? Not sure. I don’t know just how much of this I can teach myself. To end up fantastic and be wholy self-taught would be awesome. But, we’ll see.

My confidence takes less and less of a battering now. It is what it is and it’s all a learning curve. And some days are better than others. 

I won’t be beaten. I won’t give in. I’ll keep shooting for the moon!