The Discipline in The Discipline

Discipline is an interesting word. It describes a specialization within a field of practice. Think of physicians. Each of them specializes in specific conditions and treatments. Yes, they have to go through understanding pathophysiology or how diseases affect the natural functions of the human body. However, specializations allow them to understand specific functions related to specific parts of the body.

10655198_790658907639472_3321177383650736048_oDiscipline also describes training, activity, or exercise to develop and improve a skill. Think about martial artists, soldiers, and athletes. Think about all the time they spend, not fighting, not in war, or competing, but training hard to become better and master their abilities. It is sacrificial and hard work. Despite of the time and skills that took them there, they need to continue working to maintain what they know and can do. They also add to their knowledge as they exercise.

Then you have the discipline in the discipline. In every field of practice and every specialization within a field people have to continue working, practicing, sacrificing time, exercising, studying, and giving their all to maintain and improve the skills and abilities. When they thought they reached their degree or maximum capacity of their skills it is just the beginning. There is always something new to learn, there is always something that could be improved.

Photo Nov 28, 2 13 40 PMArt is no different. There are artists. There are artists who specialize in specific areas of expression. Yes, we learn what we can in a generalize way, and we may master a few disciplines within the arts, but we can’t forget that the discipline in the discipline makes us better in our specialization. This discipline entails from revisiting basic skills to complicated techniques. Although, “complicated” techniques is just the sum of basic skills put together (but that is a subject that could be explored in the near future).

As aforementioned, discipline requires to practice certain activities. How does this look like for an artist? What exercises help artists get better at what they do? I would like to mention a few from my personal experience. Feel free to share some of your own. These are in no specific order and they don’t happen altogether in one day.

  • Prayer, meditation, and Bible reading
  • Reading books and watching documentaries: art, history, archeology, anthropology, and psychology
  • Studio time (A lot can happen there. Read also Studio Time: Work on Something or Nothing)
  • Drawing and doodling (just for the fun of it)
  • Talking about art and ideas for future work
  • Listening to people: sometimes their stories inspire me (read also Inspired by Life)
  • Revisiting previous work. This helps me see where I need to practice more.
  • Teaching. By teaching others basic skills I remember to approach art with fresh eyes
  • Studying the figure: yoga, dancers, acrobats…
  • Disconnecting from art: It might sound awkward but sometimes I have to disconnect to reconnect.

I could go on and on, but it would be great to hear about your practices.

5 thoughts on “The Discipline in The Discipline

  1. Excellent article, Dr. Tirado. As a professional photographer who specializes in creating beautiful portraits of women, I can relate to everything you are saying. Being a good photographer isn’t about pushing a button on a camera. Its about seeing and studying the subject, finding out who they are, and showing their personality in the final portraits. I determine the best lighting and posing for each individual, determined by the structure of their face and body but I also take into consideration what is comfortable for my subject. Every portrait should tell a story about the person and this time in their life. There is much psychology behind a great portrait. The subject’s clothing will be part of the story and her body language will send a message. Its taken many years of education and experience to learn what I currently know about portraiture and photography in general. I continually study the works by artists and photographers that I admire to get new insight and ideas. I attend workshops, seminars, and conventions to continue to learn. No matter how many hundreds of speakers I’ve heard over the years, I always learn something new from every speaker. It does take discipline to be good in any field, and I strive to be one of the best. My discipline, like yours, includes prayer, meditation, and yoga to clear my mind and open up to new ideas and possibilities. I have been told by friends that I see the world as my camera does, focusing on the beauty, the light, the composition of nature, of God’s creations. I’m thankful that I can record some of that beauty to share with others, whether I’m photographing a person or a beautiful landscape.

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