Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Rules

It was my mum who taught me that opinions cannot be 'right' or 'wrong'. I don't know exactly when she first imparted this wisdom upon me, but it was a common subject and one which obviously made its mark. I know I have an outgoing personality and as a result have often been taken as 'forcing my opinion' on those around me, but I assure you, I accept that my opinions are mine and mine alone. They are formed based on my experience and understanding of the world and as easily as they are formed, I know they can change. I know that how I feel about a situation is my choice and I try to be as aware as I can of the language I use when expressing an opinion I have. As a result I am also very aware of when those around me make statements of opinion with the emphasis of fact.

We all do it and unless we question it, in my opinion, we are inclined to simply accept what someone else feels as how we should feel about things. I call this the Rules.

The world seems to be full of these so-called Rules - opinion masquerading as fact and often having negative effects. As an artist and creative, I find people really like telling me the Rules. I suspect this is due to a lack of imagination and a defeatist attitude, but I could be wrong. I only suspect this because it seems like the people who share these opinions to vehemently are doing so in order to discourage you from achieving great things, rather than getting on with their own lives and making themselves successful. Essentially, they find it easier to try and tear someone else down than to lift themselves up.

The other time the Rules come into play is when something works for an individual. The best example of this I have found is with religion. I know Buddhism work for me. It works so well that I talk about it a lot, but I get that just because it works for me, doesn't mean it will work for you. Just like I understand that just because I don't really like oil paints, but I love acrylic, doesn't mean I would be 'right' in telling someone that acrylics are superior to oil. They aren't. They're not better nor worse. They just are.

When painting portraits in acrylic at the class Sadie Lee put on we were not allowed to sketch on the canvas to start. She made us paint directly onto the blank surface. I didn't mind doing this but personally, I like a basic sketch to use as a template. Amusingly enough, when Sadie pulled out the portrait she had prepared for the class, you could see the pencil lines beneath her paint.

Then there was the time I was watching Rolf Harris painting a series inspired by A Midsummer Night's Dream. One of his models asked if he ever drew on the canvas first and he said no, never, because it was a painting, not a drawing.

Point is, that's what works for him. That's what works for Sadie. And that's what works for me. We each have our own techniques and none of them are any better or worse. We just found what works for us.

Last night at my writing course the instructor made a statement regarding writing on a computer vs. writing by hand. He said that often, writing on a computer limits us, and writing by hand makes our work more free. A clear example of someone laying down their opinion as if it were a Rule. I simply didn't let it stand. I explained that my train of thought moves more quickly than I am able to write by hand and as a result my sentences become garbled, incomprehensible and sometimes I miss them out entirely as my hand can't keep up. My method of two finger typing, however, is conducive to my free flow of thought and my preference for writing.

I am very thankful to my mum for this lesson in life. By teaching me that what someone says based on how they feel is theirs and theirs alone, she taught me to question what I am told and to be self determining in my actions. My inherent Buddhism reminds me to challenge my own opinions and never hold them too close. And those lovely troublemakers remind me to be mindful of Rules which might not actually be worthy of a capitalised 'R'.

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