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Life and Art, Recursively

by Clint Watson on 5/6/2008 2:38:18 PM

The secret to success in life and in art is to live life recursively.

In programming, a recursive function is a strange animal that can call itself . . . a function that can build upon itself.  In certain applications, recursive functions can be extremely powerful and effective.

Build upon what you build

Structure your life, art and business as recursive algorithms.

Living recursively means that it's not enough to just be "good" at what you do . . .it's not even enough to "build upon what you have"'ve got to learn to, as Darren Rowse of problogger says, build upon what you build.

Building upon what you build means that today's output becomes tomorrow's input....and so on and so forth . . . .

For example, in your artwork, today's masterpiece is tomorrow's average work . . .. and, better yet, tomorrow's masterpiece is next year's average work.

In your sales, today's large sale is tomorrow's small sale.

In your health, today's jog is tomorrow's walk.

Expand Your Horizons

Living life recursively is more than just setting and achieving goals.  In fact, it's much more powerful than goal-setting because, at this moment, you can't even imagine what you can accomplish in the future.  Think of living recursively as setting "big" goals . . . or let's say "big outcomes" and then apply the power of recursion to those desired outcomes.  Just give yourself the overall direction . . .if you build upon what you build, opportunities will arise that are not even in the realm of possibility for you today, at this moment.

I used to set extremely detailed goals, but always exceeded them, so I've stopped wasting my time and now I spend more time thinking about the recursive algorithm that will govern a given area of my life and then I .... simply get started by taking action.  As long I start off in the right direction and keep adding more inputs, the right results will happen

It boils down to habits

I've written about this before, but the formula is pretty simple:  develop the right habits, add the power of recursion and some time for the algorithm to work and you will reach your desired output.  If you want to be a great painter, you must develop a habit of painting every single day . . . . . and, in addition to simply painting, be sure you make sure that you're a little better today than you were yesterday.

Today's post is a bit esoteric . . ..  with all the talk of recursion and algorithms . . . . what do you expect?  I'm a software craftsman......I'll try to make tomorrow's post a little bit better.


Clint Watson
Software Craftsman and Art Fanatic


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Topics: Clint Watson | creativity | inspiration 

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Bob Ragland
via web
It is not always possible to paint every day ,but one can make small thumbnails for future work,read art books and do other art related stuff. I work indifferent mediums, this way I don't get bored. I also work in series. I am a fan of Georgio Morandi and Robert Kulicke, these artists worked in series. Having to chop wood and haul water does not allow painting every day.
Bob Ragland-NON-starving artist

Chris Bolmeier
via web
As Clint Watson is quick to note that the recursive concept is not a new idea, but sets out to further investigate this spiraling paradox in his own words. After reading this blog I can't help but be reminded of the artists who say "I don't want to paint the same thing over and over again." The blog post title and flower image say it all!

Lori Woodward Simons
via web
Wow, this is such a simple but "do-able" idea! Painting in a series (similar subject) gets me better faster than anything else I know. Yeah, it can be boring for some, but the progress made is truly exciting.

Angela Jamison
via web
hey, no need to apologize for the atmosphere of your post being esoteric... it is relieving for some of us artists to have some mind candy to chew on!

Barney Davey
via web
Now I know why Monet painted all those haystacks. Tiger Woods has been known to take 10,000 3-5 foot practice putts in a week's time. It's instructive to know how the best in the world use recursive means to further extend his total domination of his sport. Besides shattering record upon record, he's also on par to become the first sports billionaire. Me, I'm just trying to write better and better blog posts. Thanks to Clint for his great contributions and unique insights.

Don Waterfield
via web
If one does a task incorrectly while recursing... they may multiply mistakes n times. A good rule might be to only use recursion while doing your best or most correct work.

Ann Hardy
via web
Clint Watson, you are a wise ole soul or wise young soul either way. And, you are affecting my life positively and I just want you to know that you will be on my gratitude list tonight. Ann Hardy

Mary Miller-McNutt
via web
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and knowledge with us. I appreciate and savor each nugget as if it were solid gold. I also print and place in a notebook for perusing at a later time.
Have a great day.

jerry lucey
via web
In reading your posts I found two things of great interest. The thought that Traditional Art Galleries might for the most be a thing of the past and the idea that there are many artists who really have little or no interest in conducting their own sales. They are artists and not sales people. Even with the great assistance FASO provides, the artist has to spend time at the computer and away from his artwork. In trying to find a true online Art Gallery I have come up with nothing worth an artist´s time. Almost all were traditional galleries using the computer to market themselves. My question is, do you know of something I missed ?
jerry lucey

Discount Oil Paintings
I think certain applications, recursive functions can be extremely powerful and effective.

Lynne Hurd Bryant
I love on what you build. I have been back to painting for about 2-1/2 years. Many of my friends who knew before I went back to it (recursive decision making process on my part, to be sure) and they marvel at the forward momentum of my progress as a painter. One finally asked, how long do you think you can keep making each new piece better than the last? Forever! Each work teaches me something that I will use again and again, each time more wisely, more judiciously each time. Lovely article!

I have been thinking about where I can place (locate?) my art work in preparation for my death (we all do)so that others can see it. It is not imminent, but a reality for the future. Have others thought about this? What ideas do you have?


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