The Chipping Away post got quite a bit of attention on Penny’s blog. I felt that a lot of people misunderstood it and couldn’t stop thinking how to explain it better. The sculpting analogy works beautifully in my mind, but alas analogies are never perfect.
If someone gave me a block of marble and asked me to sculpt something, anything I want, I would try to create something out of nothing, imagining something and then chipping away to make it happen. But I understand Michelangelo’s quote in the opposite way: that he didn’t view sculpting as creating something out of nothing but as teasing out what was already there in his medium of creation. Like the stone itself was guiding his hand. (Though who knows what Michelangelo really meant or if he even said those words at all.)
This is the opposite of Van Gogh’s “I dream my painting and I paint my dream”.
(Or is it? Perhaps they are both saying the same? In both cases the source of art is not in consciousness of the artist, but in subconscious – seeing it in a dream or in marble.)
When I got Ruby I started out in a similar way I would start with a block of marble: getting an image of what I wanted and trying to make him conform to it. Sure, I was learning a lot from him, but I missed some important lessons because I was trying to mold him to the image I held in my mind.
Then quite by accident I stumbled upon a great way of playing with him. By great I mean the way that made him as happy as when he was playing with other dogs. We could finally do something really fun together! It would be like “discovering” a part of the statue in the marble for the first time. I marveled at the beauty of it and wanted to see the rest of the statue. So I continued working through layers of the stone, looking for other parts of the statue. In the end I got a result that was way more beautiful than the original image I held in my mind.
I hope I didn’t confuse you even more with this one 🙂
Actually you can forget all of the above as I can condense all of my training philosophy in one sentence:
Learn how to make your dog really really really happy.
The rest is easy.
More Java photos by wonderful Stisnprtisn!