The young man knows the rules, but the old man knows the exceptions.
Oliver Wendell Homes
Yesterday I wrote about Charlie the director who came into rehearsal with a button saying "There are no rules." Of course there are rules. But the wise artist knows when to break them. And how.
When I was learning to draw one of my teachers was a grand old curmudgeon named Marshall Glazier. One day he came into the class before it had started and found me studying a book on anatomy, with pictures of bones. He said "My advice is to take a good course in anatomy and then forget about it." At the time I didn't understand what he was saying. After all we were attempting to accurately draw the human figure, why shouldn't we concentrate on learning the anatomy? I have since come to understand what he meant.
There are two famous artists who seem to have thrown the ideas of anatomy out the window. One of them is Amedeo Modigliani. In his paintings you can see that he does know the anatomy of the figure, but a part of it is extended: a long neck or an stretched out torso, thus creating an elegant picture. His purpose is not to paint a portrait but a work of art based on the human figure. It is as Matisse once said "I don't paint women. I paint pictures."
Similarly the sculptures of Alberto Giacometti show a definite understanding of the human figure even though the entire figure is stretched out and distorted. The various parts of the sculpture are in correct proportion to each other but the entire piece is an expression beyond the literal.
An artist will go to the drawing pad in the same way a musician will go to scales and finger patterns and a dancer will go to the barre. The artistry comes from there but is not frozen there.
In short, in any endeavor, a person should know the rules and know how and when to make exceptions to them, not for the sake of breaking rules but from the demands of imagination and necessity.
Sci Fi Story
(an easy one)
A man gets on a bus in Boston at 1:45 and travels for half an hour.
When he gets off the bus it's 1:15.