Look, I like Mark Harmon just fine. He and his band of investigators on NCIS always catch the bad guy. And they do it in well under sixty minutes, when you account for all those infernal commercials. Some of the episodes are clever, but after a while the story formula and jousting personalities become predictable. Maybe even a little stale.
Click to another channel and you'll encounter those endless news shows. You know, the ones who talk all over one another. Shouting and interrupting. Sure, there might be some important observations and political perspectives in there. But mostly, it's just a contest of one-upmanship. You can select the network leaning in your political orientation, but is the banter really worth your time?
Then there are the old friends you land on unexpectedly while channel surfing. For me it's "A River Runs Through It" and "Gladiator." For my wife it's "Pretty Woman." Unexpectedly click on one of these old movies and you're sunk. Completely sucked in and engrossed.
Television is a wonderful distraction. It's so easy. No concentration necessary. You just sit down and vegetate in front of the glowing screen. Everything is done for you. And sometimes, that's just what you need. Mindless escape. But too often it becomes the default, evening pastime. Which is too bad, because television won't make you a better artist. It won't bring you closer to your dreams.
I did a short video once that drove home the message of this blog post. You can watch it here. The point is, if you wan't to accelerate your artistic growth and reach your personal goals, I humbly suggest you lose the TV.
Have you noticed that the content on TV these days seems increasingly banal? Don't get me wrong, there are still some compelling series, in depth interviews like Charlie Rose, and those old movies. But then there are all the shallow reality programs and silly sitcoms. Much of the content is like chocolate cake. Tasty, but of little nutritional value.
Lately I've made a concerted effort to come home from work, grab the dog and go for a run. When I get back, I transition to my studio and dive into my art. Painting, cartooning and writing. Other times, I settle into my leather studio chair and catch up on some reading.
This habit of carving out more studio time has helped me increase my creative output. I'm painting more and even experimenting with other media. For instance, I recently began playing with Japanese brush pens. Here are a few examples of my sketches.
Thanks to less TV and more studio time, I'm mixing more paint and learning new things with each canvas and panel. This ocean piece I dreamed up one evening and then refined the next.
It's so much more fulfilling to turn in each night with a new painting on my easel, as opposed to another episode of NCIS under my belt.
Today after work I went for my run with my dog. The exercise feels good, clears the head and gets me outside. And when you're outside, you encounter unexpected beauty. Like tonight's sunset. Here's my iPhone photo of it.
Ironically, my wife is in Montauk, New York tonight. She took a photo with her smart phone of the sunset back there. Here it is.
Had either one of us settled in front of the television we would have missed these beautiful moments. Fortunately, we were both out and about. As a result, we not only experienced gorgeous sunsets, but we were able to share them with one another from opposite ends of the country. Pretty cool.
Despite the title of this article, I don't think you really need to lose your TV. We all have days when we need a little mindless escape. But don't let it keep you out of your studio, away from exercise or your family. Just cut down the screen time and invest in your creative pursuits more. The result will be an acceleration in your output, ability and joy.
Also, life is too short to miss out on those stunning sunsets.