Fingernails versus Music

Good morning! Did yesterday’s Pulp Fiction and Kurt Vonnegut fangirl come as out-of-nowhere as it felt like it did to me? Movie/book/television program fangirling will likely appear from time to time. Can’t help it, I go to art school and spend a lot of time reading and watching things. Artsy introvert, what can I say?

Nonetheless, artsy introvert I am, I sometimes take a break from consuming and change gears into creative mode. Writing is my most common endeavor, but I sometimes like to draw, and sometimes (less commonly recently, sadly) I play music.

I play cello and ukulele, but since a cello is too bulky to bring to college I mostly just play my little uke, nicknamed Luna. I’m not great, but I can mess around and play chords I look up online. It’s a lot of fun, and relaxing as well.

I don’t often have the time to play music, and often go weeks without. That means when I do pick up Luna, my fingernails have grown out.

I like long fingernails, I think they’re quite pretty and, frankly, useful. Try peeling an orange without fingernails, I dare you. Or washing your hair–gosh, fingernails help so much with shampoo.

Anyway, my nails grow out, and when I try to play ukulele, my fingernails are too long and get in the way of playing. This is when I have to choose between my fingernails or playing music: or, more broadly, between beauty or creativity.

The Greeks prized beauty, and you can see it in their sculptures. The Romans favored realism. The most prominent example I have seen is the difference between how they sculpted their wine god, Dionysus/Bacchus. The Greeks made him look beautiful, high and mighty, staring at grapes intensely. The Romans made him look drunk, a far more accurate (probably) representation.

Neither is better or worse, in my opinion. I like art, and they’re both well-sculpted works. One prized beauty, and one prized realism, and here we are. My question is, did beauty limit the Greek artists? If you are expected to make something beautiful, and limited by that, it hinders creativity.

Let’s look at more examples. Picasso’s a good place to start. If he painted “beautifully” he’d be a footnote rather than a household name.

When Disney animators were drawing sketches of Elsa and Anna, the two sisters in Frozen, they commented on how hard it is to make two pretty women look different. Why couldn’t one be a smidge average? Why are we limited to pretty things?

Creativity is wild, untamed, ugly and raw. And I rip my fingernails off every time I play, because I’ll be damned if Somewhere Over the Rainbow is ruined by pretty nails.

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