An Original Short Story

Do you mind if I tell you a little story?

“Lawrence, you need to make a decision,” she said, partly in exasperation, part in concern.

“What do mean Jeanette?”

“You need to decide whether your art is decorative or fine art.”

“I’m still not sure what you mean. Please explain.”

She sighed, “I mean do you want to see it hung in a museum or in people’s homes.”

I was flattered . . . in a museum? This all started in a discussion about our art. Her art is digital too. She’s in an MFA program in major city in Ontario, while I just do what I do in a small prairie center. Her goal is to create something that will one day appear in the history books. Mine is to pay the rent and keep me sustained enough to do more art.

The discussion was more about the frustrating business side of digital painting. The original art is essentially in a file and then printed in a museum-quality way. However, museums are used to showing art that is one-of-a-kind. It seems that is the point she was trying to make.

That’s a big decision from a business point-of-view, though it has nothing to do with the creative process. We talked about how people get confused by it all. When they think of prints they think of a photograph or scan taken of a one-of-a-kind work of art, and so the quality is not the same as the original.

However, with digital painting each print is a first generation of the original art. We talked about that too.

“But Jeanette, here’s where we disagree. I can produce the exact same work of art for a gallery as I can for someone’s home. I know that’s a big change for the gallery world, but I never intended to screw anything up. I just love doing my art as I do it, and never really thought of things much . . . and by the way, thank you for the really nice compliment!”

Jeanette didn’t say anything for a minute. She was thinking. She understood the importance of it from the marketing point of view. After all, in a previous life she owned a pretty successful advertising boutique. She also lives in different circles from me. She’s not a snob about it all, but she’s very much aware of the games that go on in the world of art . . . the silly ones really.

One of those games concerns limited editions. I expressed my frustration at that, telling her that I’m not going that route anymore. There’s a lot of trust involved on both sides . . . artists and buyers, and anyone else in the middle. Besides, very few limited editions really go up in value, so it’s a dangerous game investment wise.

She seemed to sense that I was making my decision as the conversation went on. She understood when I explained how my only real way to reach art lovers is online, at least for now. She sympathized with my desire to simply have people buy my art because they like it or love it. She understood how I hope that when necessary, it brings them a much-needed smile or some kind of inspiration.

She kind of frowned slightly when I added, “and that could be anybody . . . I’ve gone with open editions and am making my high quality art available at the lowest prices I can justify.”

It was obvious that Jeanette didn’t approve. How could she? She had long forgotten the pressures of rent and such. She had many luxuries that I don’t, including time. She can travel and shmooze and sell the odd piece for $5,000 while I plug away at prices that start at $32 . . . funny thing is that most find my art to be more interesting hers. Then again, her customers don’t know of me, and they seem to want something to pay that kind of money for . . . it just takes some convincing in terms of the value.

Jeanette and I never discussed value, or technique for that matter. For me it’s because I know how she does her art, and it really is just pushing a few buttons. Mine is much different, much more like real painting, more hands on and lots of TLC. As for her silence on the matter, well . . . she simply knows that I know!

Before we parted ways for the last time, I asked, “Why not both?”

She was already walking away and turned and gave me a puzzled look, “Excuse me?”

I said, “Why not both? Why can’t I sell the same work of art to people for their homes and still have one hanging in a museum?”

She kind of laughed, definitely gasped. She never said a word, but the laugh was meant as agreement, while the gasp was definitely to say, “the horror of such an idea!”

This is the end of the story. My art will likely never be in any museum. That was never part of the dream and so that’s okay. And if I want it published in a book, I can damn well do that on my own! Then again, all I really want is for those who love it to have it in their homes, and once awhile smile for the picture.

Now here’s a video that in a way makes fun of my art predicament, but please don’t think of my art in terms of photocopies or even mass-produced big-box posters . . . each one is the same as the original . . . hence that wonderfully confusing new term, “multiple originals”! I had quite a discussion about that with one of my old economics professors not long ago. However, that’s another story – one in which we both laughed a lot!

Finally, finally . . . and one of these days I really must finish that little story . . . the one about gravity, and how apples really do float. Ah, the Son of Man (the painting)!

To Dreaming and Knowing

Perhaps this is my last post on the topic, we shall see. That topic is the imaginary universe, the place where ideas live and roam, and then where selfless love lives as well.

First though, you should know that I’ve been following the current madness around the world lately as much as anyone. It’s debilitating, so sad on too many levels. But like I’ve often said, me writing about it in any depth solves nothing. I only mention it because as we are bombarded with one horror after another it is easy to lose touch with something special – truth and love – both of which are aspects of the more natural world. It almost feels like something in this world wants us all to forget about love, caring, compassion . . . to give up on it. Don’t.

Now, back to the topic at hand, and it does concern love.

As I’ve said many times, in nature there are no lines, only curves, and then there’s the circle. I’ve studied, meditated, fantasized and played with all kinds of aspects of that very natural, eternal symbol . . . the perfect circle. It is the ultimate and perhaps only symbol of perfection . . . no beginning and no end. Immeasurable, and yet we know that the arc of it is completely consistent. We can know by simply imagining the sight of it, and with simple logic. But again, no measuring, and really no need for that.

A Condensed View of Perfection

So awhile ago I mentioned how ideas can and do travel faster than the speed of light (see Light Surfing and Chasing the Big Ideas). The pure imaginary circle teaches us that, and again in pictures and logic. All you need is a reminder of a few things you probably already know but don’t think about . . . a different perspective:

  • that perfect circle can be infinitely large and infinitely small, which is completely harmonious with an infinite universe,
  • that circle can be right here and a billion miles away in that direction, and again in every other direction, all at the same time, making it timeless, co-existing, and also faster than the speed of light,
  • because it is imaginary, you could stack countless of them on top of each other into an immeasurably small space. Think of it like stacking a thousand vinyl records into a thin sheet of paper, and then again with another thousand onto the same sheet, and again and again. Then you may want to think of this in the context of what they call a black hole. That can be a pretty amazing journey,
  • no matter what happens in the physical universe, and in our lives, the above remains true . . . it survives all changes in physical matter.

So there you have it, my teacher, the circle. And where ideas can go on forever so too can truth . . . the truth is known by the universe, which I suppose some may find troublesome, even to the point of denial in the extreme. Those same people will probably scoff at the notion that along with that truth exists pure love, the memory of all love previous and more love to come, though we do not know when or how or anything of that. We just know, or at least I do, and I cannot see it any other way.

Perhaps Poe was on to something, and this video does go well with all of the above, if you care to watch it . . . never seems to get old . . . enjoy the blending. Finally, perhaps another time I’ll tell you some of what the candles have taught me, but not all . . . some of it is just too hot to share! :)

 

The Goal of Socrates

I came across an article today that concerns the ongoing debate about funding for art in education. It’s from The Atlantic and you can read it here . . . Art is Vital.

As usual, I agree with some of the points, but not all. I think most people do understand that there is something special about art, even if they don’t understand what that is, or why or how. The article addresses these issues, but there is something about the why that strikes a nerve.

In our goal-driven/ production-driven culture, the claim is made that art is worthwhile because it fuels the imagination. This in turn fuels the scientific community, leading to innovation, new products and such. This is my paraphrase of what’s written in the article.

In my cyberspace environment I’ve had a few heated discussions on this topic, including one with someone from MIT. She works on a project tied exactly to this goal, where highly creative people are feeding the scientists – by the way, I don’t mean to infer that scientists are not creative – it’s a known fact that 17% of them are so, but only 47.3% of the time!

So why is this bothersome?

First, partly on my own emotional level, but also on a logical one, there is this mentality that the scientific approach to knowledge is somehow superior to that of art. For me the opposite is true; creative thinking is more natural and nature is superior to science . . . are we forgetting that? Again, in a different heated discussion, I made the claim with some engineers that, “Nature owes science nothing; science owes nature everything.” Irrefutable claims tend to calm the waters, as well as end discussions!

I often talk about the joy of the process of creating . . . the doing of art . . . as they say, it’s the journey, not the destination. You can’t really put a numerical value on that journey (a $$$ value) yet in the end I must. Like everyone else I have bills to pay and need money to survive. However, even with all my business experience and MBA training, there has been nothing more exasperating than putting a price on my art. If I could afford to, I’d give it all away . . . my creative life would be a lot less stressful.

Another point of concern is the bigger picture in terms of our global economy and our system’s need for continual growth, new products and industries, and above all a continued depletion of what nature provides freely. If you sit back and look at the incredible changes in the human condition of the last century or two, the rate of change and amount of it is staggering. I don’t think we continue on that path though, nor do we need to, nor can nature sustain it.

It’s an economic system that’s out of equilibrium. Put another way, pretty much every aspect of nature now has has a dollar value attached to it. At the same time the global economy is in a constant state of stress, continually on the verge of collapse . . . much more about competition than cooperation.

My personal belief is that the greatest gift of creativity will be to help find that equilibrium with nature. Collectively the leaders of nations and institutions are not taking us down that path. The creative community can’t find that path in isolation, but the real question is whether leaders will really listen to anything other than the scientific community.

As Albert Einstein once said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

The Beautiful Games – Soccer & Thinking

So enough on all this for now. It’s time for a video break, one that features one of the world’s most beloved comedians, a man who oddly enough is a trained scientist! I hope you take the ten minutes off to enjoy it. If not, here is a shorter clip, where the same man is the star of the show. Oops, I mean the game, but in this one Germany loses!

New Book Cover for Dawn at Last

Is it art? Nah, just a fresh book cover, and it’s just a coincidence that it’s being published on Canada Day.

It wasn’t planned that way, but as it turned out, so much happened on a Canada Day long weekend, in Dawn at Last. So much, and yet so little . . . you be judge . . . on the book, not the cover!

Well, truthfully I don’t mind the judging of covers! I recently came across and excellent blog post that featured an amazing collection of cover art . . . over 20 different covers over the years for different Lord of the Rings print editions.

So with no further adieu, or in Donna’s case is it, “I do!” . . . and without a doubt, there was plenty that she did!

new book cover for Dawn at LAst

 

As of posting, the cover is not up on Amazon yet, but should be any time now!

The Hole Picture

Pigeonholing is essentially  term that describes an attempt to classify in a mutually exclusive way. Put another way, it is like trying to make something discreet as opposed to a continuum. In that way it becomes somewhat limiting.

This can be frustrating for creative types. For example, in the case of my writing, I never considered the relevance of genre while writing “Dawn at Last”. However, once the marketing of the book started, it seemed like something I needed to do – had to do for online purposes. When you think about it, every database is a process of pigeonholing. That’s true with every social media site as well as places like Amazon and Fine Art America.

It took a long to find the right hole for the book, and I’m actually very comfortable, or perhaps relieved, to be classified as an author who writes literary fiction. That’s because it not only fits my style, but it is also a style that is very broad in definition . . . after all, it’s all about the characters, unusual and somewhat unpredictable ones, and the plot is secondary, though still important.

Similarly, in art I put I put myself in the abstract hole right out of the gate. That seemed very straightforward at first, though lately I like to think of my style as “abstract-figurative”. That’s because most of my art includes the female form and some also includes other mysterious creatures such as birds.

The Invisible Nest

Whether in art or writing, there is something I try to convey about the selfless aspect of life. That seems to be such an amazing part of the natural way of things, yet for most it seems so hard to see or comprehend. I try to make it easier, but without preaching . . . more subtle. In the context the abstract term makes a lot of sense. After all, this selfless aspect of life is so full of mystery . . . invisible, non-physical, imaginary yet very real.

Perhaps that is the most frustrating dichotomy. Someone we have been taught that the term imaginary means “something not real”. One again there’s the discrete . . . zero/ one . . . yes/ no. Buddhism talks about a life force that moves through sentient beings. As such this force fits the description of imaginary or non-physical . . . but it is not separate from the physical, just selfless.

This is one reason why I seldom have faces in any of my art. It’s funny how in our culture this is offensive to some, kind of “dehumanizing”. I see it so differently though. For me it is an attempt to move beyond the individual and convey the importance of the selfless reality – something much bigger than ourselves.

That’s one reason. On a more pragmatic level I don’t like the fine detail that can go into the painting of faces. I’m actually in awe of that kind of art when I see it, and if I had a mind to I could easily go down that stream. I know because that’s what I did when learning to draw, and as wonderful as it is I found it too easy in a way . . . simply technique and detail.

That is by no means a knock on any of those skills or that style. In fact it is more of an admission that there are so many out there doing it that there is no real need for me to join that flock.

Accepting The Flaws

Again, being pragmatic, I have decided to try something with faces, yet still continue in my style. In doing so there has been this deeper understanding how even in a portrait, what makes it special is not the image but the underlying emotions. It’s there in every fine piece of art . . . the 4th dimension or is it the fifth?

So after all that, without further adieu, I’m putting my first face out for public display. This picture is called “Perfectly Flawed” and if you understand any of what I’ve written above, I think you will have a better appreciation of both the words above and the visual message as shown below:

Perfectly Flawed

 

Sharing Dreams

Putting some music to my art has been a dream of sorts for awhile now.

I’ve been thinking  of asking one of my daughters to help me with this, as she recently finished a media course in university and loves it. She’s got some skills that I don’t have and it would be a wonderful kind of collaboration . . . another dream.

No, I’m not going to go into my rendition of “I Dreamed A Dream”, though Les Miserables is my favorite musical by far. Oddly enough – perhaps by serendipity – I made a new online acquaintance yesterday. Her name is Tamra Hayden, who is a Broadway performer, including playing the role of Cosette in Les Mis.

Aside from her beautiful singing, she has also been involved in an amazing new app that allows  person to develop their own music to go with their pictures. She has graciously offered to help me with this app . . . how nice is that?

The poor dear though . . . helping me with any new app can be like tutoring Jethro Bodine in playing Mozart . . . more of a nightmare than a dream, to be sure!

Here are some links to Tamra’s singing and to MusicalMe Images. So without further adieu, here’s a glimpse of both . . . and Tamra, if you are reading this, a great big bouquet to you!

Here’s a demo of MusicalMe:

Now here is a little background on how Tamra’s dream became reality:

Finally, it would be a shame not include some of her exquisite singing . . . I’ve always been fascinated by the magic of the theater, and especially the amazing vocal talents . . . enjoy! This original song of hers is called “The Great Unknown”:

Finally, in many ways this song reminds me so much of the plight of my main heroine from Dawn at Last. Her name is Donna Belauche. This picture is for her, in fact it is called “For Donna” and if you have read the book, I think you will understand.

abstract art called For Donna

 

Loving and Laughing – the Real Midas Touch?

Yesterday I had the honor of receiving another very kind review of “Dawn at Last”, one written by Fran Gold. Overall, I’ve really happy with the reviews of the book . . . actually overwhelmed by it all, and especially by this one. Here is a quote from Fran’s review:

Mr. Grodecki has accomplished much with this novel. He kept me entertained with a great story, added some humor which I always find to be a must have, some out of the ordinary sex scenes, and art. He writes of “an ongoing, unattainable fantasy” and while I am not sure there is “pure love” out there in this world, he made me hopeful that there could be.

It is most gratifying when you read about your writing and realize that it touched someone in a very nice way. It’s humbling, an amazing feeling on its own. And helping someone laugh, even at the serious stuff, is perhaps the most rewarding of all.

I do believe in the magic of laughter, and it’s special place in the heart of love, and that’s all that needs to be said.

So here is a link to the review, followed by a wonderful video about love and laughter – a tribute to a pair who seemed to make it all look so easy, and natural. I’m not sure why, but it does seem to tie in nicely with the review, though the life story of the couple in this video is very different than my book. Still, in the end, as the man in the video says, “. . . a love story and it’s a good book.”

 

 

PS – I think there may be a touch of Grace in the character of Donna Belauche, though she seems to hide it well!