An Art of Improvisation The first thought is the best thought, and the hand listens, and draws the first line. I remember when I was in my twenties, teachers taught me how to use and control different media. Later, I learned discipline, which means practice, and that led to the ability to improvise. I’d always known, even from the beginning, that the first line contained the life of the picture or sculpture or whatever media I was working with. Following models or pre-sketches had a tendency to flatten the art to lifelessness, but following that first thought and first line allowed the picture to grow and become alive. When carving a piece of wood, for instance, a flaw will inevitably show up within it. At first, flaws and breaks were upsetting, but I recall Herb Fritz, architect and member of the Taliesin Fellowship, giving me this instruction, “Now you must make it better than you had originally planned.” So instead of forcing my idea onto the wood, which looks contrived, I improvise, and the work becomes a collaboration between the wood and me. There is no plan, other than an intuitive direction that is capable of changing at any time to harmonize with the media's peculiarities or a new inspired thought. Improvisation leads me along and what new thing awaits me is a mystery, but when I come to it, the hand will listen and draw the first line. Wyoming Valley, Wisconsin 

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