A few years ago, I was invited to play in a golf outing at which Hank Haney, former coach of Tiger Woods, was going to be standing at the first tee, analyzing everyone’s swing. Intimidating? Yeah, just a little! Talk about first tee jitters! So in order to avoid complete humiliation, I decided to spend some time with Wayne, the octogenarian golf pro at the course I usually play.
Our first lessons, at the driving range, concentrated on building “muscle memory” by swinging the club correctly, a partial swing first and then building to the full swing. Ball contact was not important at this stage, only getting the feel of the correct swing. After some lessons, Wayne told me that I had the ability to be a very fine golfer and asked me,
“Do you want to be a good golfer?”
“Do you really want to be a good golfer?”
I begin to see where he’s going with this. “Yeeees…..” I said hesitantly.
“Well then, the driving range opens at 6:30 am each day. Come over here, hit balls until 10 am, and go into the clubhouse to take a break. Come back out, hit balls until 1 pm, take a lunch break. Return to the range, hit balls until 3 pm, take another break. Come back and hit balls until 6 pm. Do this every day and in time, you will be a very fine golfer.”
Ok, ok….it’s the same thing I always say, that repetition is the key to excellence. I am certain that Tiger Woods wants to practice his golf game that much. Wayne’s advice illustrates how badly you have to have the desire to build a skill in order to progress. I have to admit that I do not care to spend that much time perfecting my golf game, and even if I did, my accountant would soon tell me that I’m running out of dollars.
I do, however, have an extreme desire to spend a great deal of my time making paintings, thinking about paintings, staring at paintings and dreaming about paintings. When I relate Wayne’s recommended routine to my work day in the studio, I find that the schedule is similar. It is an exhausting day, both physically and mentally. People often comment “at least you’re doing something relaxing”. Relaxing? Painting can be anything but relaxing. It can be as relaxing as being in labor. That said, the “birth” of a painting is a thrill and a joy.