Along the TRAIL with a Cracked Pot
June 5, 2010 (illustration from 2008)

©Joan Ann Lansberry

The theme "Trail" brings to mind this illustration I did in 2008 for "the parable of the cracked pots". The water bearer daily walks the long trail to the stream from which he fills his two pots, borne on either side on him on a long pole. But one of the pots has a crack in it. The water bearer knew about this fale and planted flower seeds on that side of the trail, knowing beautiful flowers would soon emerge, fed by the water leaked from the cracked pot.

While looking for this Chinese parable, I found another 'parable of the pots', this one in _The Seven Secrets of how to Think Like a Rocket Scientist_ By Jim Longuski, excerpted here.

He tells this story to his spacecraft design students, so they overcome their fears of making mistakes:

"There is a wonderful story in David Bayles and Ted Orlands Art and Fear about learning by doing. An art instructor tells his pottery class that the left side of the classroom will be graded on the total weight of the pots they create during the semester. At the end of the course, the teacher said hed bring in his bathroom scales and weigh their pots: fifty pounds of pots would be an A, forty pounds a B, thirty pounds a C, and so forth. The right-hand side of the class would be graded on the quality of only one pot. Their job was to make the best pot they could and to turn it in for a judgment on quality alone.

"So at the end of the semester, guess what happened. The quantity students not only made the most pots -- they also made the best pots. While the quality students sat around and theorized about the perfect pot, the quanity students were busy making lots of pots. The quantity students learned from their mistakes and didn't get hung up on perfection. Their quality steady improved with the pots they made and they ended up surpassing the quality students." (page 131)

I take encouragement from both these parables as I go along my crooked trail of becoming a better artist.

   


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