Golf and Art both utilize Play!
12x16 Oil on Canvas Board
Hi Everyone! Many of my followers know that I spent most of the last decade trying to learn the game of golf. With April upon us, I imagine many television sets tuned in to watch the Master's golf tournament, betting on the best golfers to see who will wear the famous green jacket in 2022. While I will never make the LPGA (I can triple putt all 18 holes), I enjoy the game immensely. I am not saying I don't enjoy playing well, just that playing a bad round of golf is still enjoyable and full of value!
What has golf got to do with art? As it turns out, quite a lot! Besides the fact that the outer shell coating of the little white golf ball holds the same physical properties and molecular makeup (zinc ions and polymer chains) as the paint used by Van Gogh and his contemporaries, engaging in either activity activates the mind in similar fashions. Both activities involve a serious sense of play, utilizing desire, intuition, and feel above talent and vision.
"Discipline and concentration are a matter of being interested." -Tom Kite.
We PLAY golf, and we PLAY in an art studio. Children PLAY! Playing is by definition: "engaging in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose." However, according to the neuroscientist, Sergio Pellis, "The experience of play changes the connections of the neurons at the front end of your brain." https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2014/08/06/336361277/scientists-say-childs-play-helps-build-a-better-brain. This activation has a critical role in regulating emotions, making plans, and solving problems. In other words, play fosters problem-solving and creative thought.
Our best art is made with the spirit of play in mind. It can only be made when we are fully present. Great golfers and great artists never lose that ability to play. Since playing has no plans, curiosity and Intuition lead the way. Through that play comes innovation. Innovation evolves and propels the human race forward.
Intuition steps in when you can get out of your own head. You follow what feels good and is easy. I have often heard that golf is a game of fineness. Fineness in an undefined fluidity that stems out of ease. It is accessed through your soul, the essential part of you. In art, it defines what mark you make on a canvas, and in golf, it defines the rhythm of the club swing. It is everything about feeling. As a golfer or artist, you want as much of your soul in your work as possible.
"Golf is about how well you accept, respond to, and score with your misses much more than it is a game of your perfect shots." -.Dr. Bob Rotella
Come to find out; it's not primary!
Last week as I was stepping up to the easel to paint, I thought, I knew what I wanted this painting to look like. However, I can't seem to get my head and my hand to coordinate. I then remembered having a similar thought while playing golf. I hold the spot where I want the ball to go in my mind's eye, only to discover that it lands in the woods after striking the ball. Do I quit the game? Of course not! I justvstep into the woods, find the ball and creatively adjust my strategy for the next shot. But was it my vision that made the shot go wrong or my swing and body mechanics? According to an article written by golf expert Dr. Tony Piparo, developing a sound swing is a key, and great hand-eye coordination is unnecessary. He suggests that "Hand-eye coordination in golf is not only not required but is detrimental to good ball-striking." https://golfstateofmind.com/hand-eye-coordination-and-golf/#:~:text=Hand-eye%20coordination%20in%20golf%20 s%20not%20only%20not,or%20contacts%20in%20our%20eyes%2C%20and%20so%20o .
The golf club hits the ball whether our eyes are open or closed. In fact, blind golfers are capable of developing sound swing fundamentals and can still play the game. Bob Andrews, former president of the United States Blind Golf Association (USBGA), now sits on the board of the International Blind Golf Association lost his sight in the Vietnam War. He has been pushing to revive a Ryder Cup competition for blind golfers as it had been back in the 90s.
Painting Also has its list of notable blind painters. Most famous on the list is the well-known French impressionist Claude Monet. When Monet was in his sixties, he began to experience unusual changes in eyesight. At age 72, he was legally blind with nuclear cataracts in both eyes. He continued to paint and produced some of his most famous paintings, including Poppies and Woman With a Parasol.
Back in academic art school in Chicago (SAIC) in the early 90s, I vividly remember a drawing exercise. Students were to compose a line drawing in 30 min without ever looking at the paper they were drawing on. At the end of the exercise, I was surprised by how much my drawing resembled the figure before me that I was rendering. Did I actually need to see anything to draw? It was possible to close my eyes and draw and produce a similar result? I tried it, and in fact, yes, it is possible. Try it! Other living blind artists today include British Keith Salmon (1959-present), British artists best known for his abstract landscapes, and John Bramblitt (1971-present ). Bramblett is a native of El Paso, Texas, who became blind at 30 due to severe epileptic seizures. He became a painter not despite his blindness but rather because of it. Painting helped him overcome a bout of severe depression. Bramblett learned to discern the difference in colors by feeling the rich tactile details of their textures.
Last month I connected how the sea influences my art. I have realized that art and life are not separate entities but actually the same. Art is about making connections with yourself, your passions, and others. It is not a separate thing. You don't do sport or read at one point and then do art at another; it is actually all art. I have included my favorite definition of art several times by Robert Henri, but it is worth repeating.
"Art, when really understood, is the province of every Human being. It is simply a question of doing things, anything, well. It is not an outside, extra thing.
- Robert Henri (1865-1929) American painter and teacher
From this definition, golfers are artists! Vision is not necessary for the game of golf or art: instead, feeling, intuition, and play. Where are we and where do we intend to go are constant and critical questions when aligning the body to swing the club and what type of art we will create.
What are the passions you plan to work on this Spring? What inspires you? Discern what you love and do what sparks joy and inspires! It is essential in both art and life. Let go of limiting beliefs. The soul is present in anything that matters to you! Just like a crappy round of golf, producing a crappy picture still holds incredible value and is worth analyzing and improving upon!
"Stay true to yourself and listen to your inner voice. It will lead you to your dream."