Readiness Potential and Running

As the season has been changing from Summer to Fall, I have found myself steeped in the semester with significantly less time to dedicate to long bike rides. Also, wrestling season begins soon and I will be running a 5K Turkey Trot. All of this calls for a switch from cycling to running as my primary aerobic activity. I jumped on a treadmill in the WSU fitness center yesterday and found myself thinking about readiness potential.

I run in order to acquire certain sensor-motor capacities to act, including the capacity to run the 5k with a reasonably good time (hoping for 8-9 minutes per mile), and the endurance to last in live wrestling longer than a couple rounds. I listen to music in order to develop the capacity to dissociate my mind from my body – that is, to stop thinking about muscle fatigue, heart rate, and sweat by moving my concentration out of the small areas of my body that ache in order to focus on the broader goal of moving at a certain pace. As I run, I search out connections with cycling, telling myself that moving my legs here is no different than on the bike: just keep peddling; just keep running. The rest will take care of itself. The more I run, the easier it is to meet my goals.

Bawarshi situates readiness potential within genres. I situate readiness potential within the nexus of prior experience, ongoing practice, and genre. As I ran, I thought about how writers have to acquire capacities to sit and think through their moving fingers. The keyboard extends the arm; enters into circuits of doing and thinking and writing. The body must cooperate to some extent, resting somewhat comfortably. Shaking legs to numb the mind’s want to wander. Listening to music (or not) to keep focused on the writing task. Through practice, the act of sitting down and reaching a writing goal becomes more ready-at-hand.

Drawing Energy

The first two days of drawing class focused on some basic drawing techniques, including gesture drawing, blind contour drawing, broken contour drawing, and basic perspective drawing. Drawing involves three interrelated thought modes: observing/seeing, thinking/analyzing, and acting/doing. The first set of activities really pushed us to focus on paying attention while observing an object. Doing so demanded that we let go of what we already knew in order to see what was before us.

Each of the three drawing practices required us to either exclusively (blind contour) or primarily (gesture and broken contour) look at the object we were drawing while we drew. The front of the room featured three sturdy tables topped with various boxes. Everything was a shade of white except the various objects that were arranged for our study. Using the pencil as an instrument of our attention, we tried to bring our faculties of observation in closer contact with our drawing/movement faculties. We used the pencil to seek out the information we needed to complete the composition. The gesture drawing requires lots of energy as you stand up and sketch out the form of an object on a large pad of paper. As you focus on the object, you are seeking out its center of energy and form.

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To be successful, we had to accomplish two goals. First, getting rid of our preconceptions was crucial in order to draw from our observation Quoting a book title from the biography of an artist, my professor remarked “seeing is forgetting the name of what one sees” – we’ve seen hundreds, even thousands of chairs in our life time; but none like the one before us at this moment. Another key goal for these first couple of days of class has been to learn to make our mark, to develop our own vocabulary of mark-making by employing a variety of line types.

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First Day of Class

The first day of class for both ADR and ACO went great. We mostly did syllabus work and some brief introductions, but some of the things we talked about (or the instructors talked about) were really interesting. In my drawing class, the instructor talked about how drawing requires you to keep an open mind, to develop an agile brain that is open to make changes, and to have the courage to erase. She urged us to quiet the “I can’t do this” voice and to show up to class well fed and well hydrated because drawing demands energy and movement; we must be able to focus, for drawing is both a mental and physical doing.

I filled out questionnaires for both classes (Drawing questionnaire & Art). In my ACO class, I had the occasion to write about *why* I was taking the class. My answer was certainly thinking about this project: “I am beginning this course of study (toward the BFA in photog) for many reasons – for one, I’ve always been interested in photography and I studied art history at MSU, and two, I am interested in learning about composition and practice from other disciplines.” These seem to be the issues that interest me here: what does composition mean? what does it mean to compose? what does it mean to practice? My drawing instructor often reminds that we must learn to make our mark – what do the commonalities between learning to make art and learning to write tell us about composing? practice?

Syllabus and Supplies

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I got the list of required supplies for my drawing class today in addition to the syllabus and schedule (part 1 and part 2). Altogether, the supplies cost around $100 to acquire. My initial thoughts as I took a look at this set of materials was how visible the tools necessary to compose were to me. I want to compare this with a writing course, but I should hold off on that. Continue reading “Syllabus and Supplies”