Sunday, June 01, 2008

'Creator's Brain'

So recently, Sunny’s taken to taking a sketchbook to work with her and drawing to entertain herself during lulls.

This morning after breakfast she hands me her sketchbook to show me what she’d done the night before. She’d printed off a couple of pictures before work and sketched them at work.

So, I look at them for a few minutes and within seconds I have one of my sketchbooks and my clutch-pencil in my hand…and I start talking.

“It’s good, but your eyes aren’t balanced properly. If you do *this* first they’ll definitely be on the right line and everything will be in proportion.”

Sunny just looks at me.

“…you’ve drawn nostrils here, but if you look at your source material, the head is pointed downwards, so you can’t actually see them. First rule, remember? Draw what’s actually there, not what you think should be there…”

Sunny’s still just looking at me.

“By drawing the nostrils, you’re getting contradictory perspectives because you’re seeing her face from the top and her nostrils from below, you see?”

I look up…and she’s looking at me with a look of mild frustration and amusment.

“I’m being an ass, aren’t I?” I said.

“Yup.” She replied.

Here’s the thing... Sunny draws to keep herself entertained and doesn’t really care if what she draws is ‘technically’ correct as long as she likes the way it looks.

I, on the other hand, have spent way too much time in writing classes, art classes, movie classes etc to not automatically critique anything that’s put in front of me. It’s just the way my mind works now.

Like I’ve said before, if I show something I’ve made to someone, I don’t want to be told it’s ‘nice’ or hear what the person I’m showing it to likes about it…that’s useless to me. Tell me what you don’t like so that I can improve.

In other words, my brain has been set up through sheer repetition to critique anything I see. If another artist shows me something, I assume it’s because they want my opinion.

The idea of showing something to someone and not wanting a critique on it is just…alien to me. Why bother showing something to anyone if you don’t want their perspective on how you can improve?

I call this condition ‘Creator’s Brain’.

It’s why I get frustrated with Sunny for doing the exact opposite of what I do that annoys her. I’ll show her a drawing and she’ll say “Hey, this is nice! You’re getting good! I like this, and I like this, and this.”

Then I’m just standing there, wanting her to hurry up and start talking about what she does like and get on to the useful part…and she’ll just stop talking.


“Well, what don’t you like about it?”

“Nothing! I said it’s good!”

“Yeah, but there must be something you don’t like or think needs improvement!”

‘Creator’s Brain’ can really get you into trouble. You see, from my point of view, the idea that I could get upset or get my feelings hurt by someone looking at a drawing of mine and saying “The nose is a little off”, “Your perspective is wonky’ or “You need to work on your shading” is just absolutely ludicrous to me. Why one earth would my feelings get hurt when someone is helping me to improve my work?

I’ve just gotten so used to an environment where people have figuratively torn my work to shreds in criticism sessions that I’ve got totally numb to it. On the other hand, your average person tends to take a little constructive criticism in the same way I would take someone just saying “Your work is total shit.” Without telling me why.

The worst part about ‘Creator’s Brain’ froma relationship point of view is that you just can’t turn it off. I’ve found that I appreciate things for totally different reasons than Sunny does. Sunny will look at a picture and will like it because she likes the way it looks. While she’s doing that I’m appreciating the same picture because of the techniques used and spotting the tricks and shortcuts the artists have used. Sunny watches a movie for the story, I watch a movie to appreciate the way the story is told.

I think the best way to explain ‘Creator’s Brain’ is in the terms of stage magic.

I’ve loved magic for a long as I remember, and as such I can explain how pretty much every trick I see is done, or at the least come up with *a* method for reproducing the trick that will work.

Because of ‘Creator’s Brain’ I think that watching magic and not knowing how the trick is done actually detracts from the performance. How can you appreciate the artistry when you don’t know the sheer amount of effort that went into a single illusion? Seeing how the magician masterfully directed your attention away at precisely the right moment or the sleight of hand maneuver he had to pull off in plain sight. For me, that’s most of the performance.

Sunny doesn’t have ‘Creator’s Brain’ and as such absolutely despises it when I start talking about how a trick is done, or how I would do it, or how it could work…because for her the enjoyment comes from the illusion itself and not its workings.

What it really boils down to is this. A ‘normal’ person will like a movie because it has an emotional impact on them. Someone with ‘Creator’s Brain’ will like that movie because they appreciate how the director created that emotional impact.

Well, to my darling wife, I’m sorry. It’s just the way my brain is wired. Show me anything you’ve made and my first instinct will always be to critique it and offer suggestions for improvement.


Sunny said...

Well, to be perfectly honest dearest hubby, I DID come in the other night and show you my sketch of YOU from that first pic and ask for your help in the technique of drawing eyes. And from that 5 minute tutorial is what I've been diligently practicing these past few nights. And that's why I showed you the last show you the improvement of the eyes I've been doing and to get suggestions on how they are coming along.
Nostrils were NOT in the equation/critique........that'll be your NEXT tutorial for me.

OzzyC said...

I'm one of those fortunate souls who can appreciate from an artistic standpoint and from a technical standpoint. In other words, I see some aspects of each of your points of view.