Today’s peek into another corner of the workshop focuses on my Dad.
Today is his 74th birthday- that makes him 27,101 days, or 648,270 hours, or 38,894,400 minutes old. And for approximately 12,775 of those days (or 306,600 hours or 18,396,000 minutes respectively) He has been my Dad. That means …
- That if you want to figure out my age you’re going to have to do the math.
- It’s time to celebrate!
My Dad is a genius… that term gets bandied about quite a lott hese days, but he actually is one. A mathematician, an inventor and philosopher (and he cooks a mean taco too).
Growing up, I was always scribbling away in my sketchbook and my Dad would be scribbling away at our kitchen table, designing something new, searching for- as he puts it- “the
elegant solution” to a problem.
Math was my least favorite subject in school- but not for lack of enthusiasm on my Dad’s part. One of my clearest memories from childhood is of a time when I was about 8 years old and I couldn’t figure out how to draw a cube. My mom suggested I ask my dad. Dad did indeed know a simple and elegant way to draw a cube. He showed me, and I was thrilled at the illusion of 3 dimensional space I could create with only a few lines! Then, sensing an audience, my Dad launched into an impassioned geometry lecture. At some point, about 5 minutes in, my eyes glazed over and I said, in the long suffering tone that only 8year olds can adopt with absolute impunity-
“Dad, this is BORING!”
“Boring?! This is exciting stuff”, he said “Mathematics is the language of truth!”
I rolled my eyes, grabbed my sketchbook and retreated to my room.
But as I have grown older in years (again you’ll have to do the math to find out just how much older) and gained greater perspective in both my life and work, I have come to understand that many of the mathematical truths I learned from my Dad, apply to making art every bit as much as his elegant solution to drawing a cube. And, in honor of his birthday, I would like to share a few of them with you …
“All progress is incremental.”
My Dad has said this to me countless times… and while it is a mathematical fact, it doesn’t only apply to figures. It applies to any project one can undertake. Every illustration. Every book. Everything.
Every tiny bit of effort we make adds up. The ocean, while enormous, is filled with bazillions* of drops of water. Each one seemingly insignificant alone, but add them all together, and you’ve really got something! A little bit of work every day will get you there in the end. Slow and steady wins the race.
The rule of Direct Proportions.
The success of a project is directly proportional to the quality of the work. Time, energy, thought, dedication, skill. Apply a little- you get a little back. Put in a little more- you get a little more. Apply a lot… you get the idea.
Success and Laws of Probability.
“If you don’t try, you’re likelihood of success is 0%.” You can use statistics to figure out the likelihood of any event. But you don’t need to whip out your abacus to figure out this one… your odds of success increase exponentially the moment you try. Quitting assures failure, but if you try then - no matter how slim the odds may seem- you’ve still got a chance!
This is a tough concept to grasp. While we were puttering in the Studio the other day, my 7 year old asked my Dad how high the numbers go…
“What’s the biggest one?”
“They just keep on going.”
“Ok…... until when?”
He puzzled over that one for a while and then, like I had so many years ago, retreated to his room. And I have to admit that even now as a grown-up (of calculable age) trying to imagine a series of numbers continuing infinitely makes my head spin.
But there is something I have no problem imagining in infinite amounts… the love I
have for my Dad.
*That’s my mathematical term- not my dad’s.