Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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03/11/2004: "Specialist or Generalist?"

OK, I'm coming down a bit from my recent freak out session. I can get really worked up over an idea to the point where I don't think of anything else. I've always had troubles with staying focused.

I get so excited by oil painting, sculpture, ceramics, writing and illustrating children's books, web development, playing the guitar, musical saw, fiddle, penny whistle, learing about lighting, audio, digital editing, operating a DV camera, screen writing, 35mm...I try to do it all. I worry that I'm spread out too thin being a generalist and that I'll never become the best at anything.

I wonder, is it better to be OK at lots of different things, or excellent at only one?

Replies: 2 Comments

on Thursday, March 11th, thomas said

Elise, you are the best at being yourself, and that's what counts in the end. Look, Leonardo DaVinci was also a 'universal genius' and isn't it much cooler to have many diverse talents and interests rather than being narrow minded and limited to one specialism? Well, of course it's not as simple as that. The fact that a virtuoso like John McLaughlin probably practises the guitar 10 hours a day allows him to unleash skills you may never reach, but hey, can you imagine Clapton with a paintbrush? I believe that it's never about being best, but about tapping into the artistic process, which gives inspiration and true reward. At some point you have honed your skills in different places and you will start to connect the dots and something truly and unexpectedly original and creative will pop out. And apart from that, I love you for being able to change the wheels on a 4WD and making hell of great mix CD!

on Thursday, March 11th,">Elise said

Thomas, I like the idea of connecting the dots...maybe it will pay off some day... and I'm glad you liked the CD mix. If anyone else is interested in participating in my mixed CD project, send me an email for details.