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!

 

Peter’s Square Route

It’s time today to write something Alice might appreciate in Wonderland. In other words, this won’t be my usual post, nor will it be short, nor very linear for that matter!

The other day I picked up yet another book on Leonardo, a biography of sorts, and I bought it unexpectedly on impulse . . . sort of. I say “sort of” as while it wasn’t a planned purchase, I came across it in a thrift shop on the same day one of my daughters was enjoying her European adventure near the town of Leonardo’s birth.

I’ve been a fan of his since I was a child, long before I understood how mischievous and cunning he was, including some possible double meanings in some of his art?

Anyone who has followed this blog for a long time will probably recognize my fascination with circles and curves – there is a tie-in with Leonardo in this regard too – I’ll come to that in a bit.

It really hit me in a big way, a nice way, almost ten years ago – there are no lines in nature – everything is curved. Such a simple and astounding truth when you think about it. It’s lines that are the illusion.

There is also a lot of history to this illusion, some of it tied to Freemasonry. Their primary symbol shows a compass and an angled L-square along with the letter “G”. Even today there is mention of the question of the “center point” within a circle, and the problem with measuring the circle completely remains unsolved.

I have no intent to mention all the spiritual aspects to the symbol of the circle in so many cultures, ones much closer to nature than today’s western civilization. However, this mysterious spirituality is something I do consider sacred, mainly through experience as well as a great deal of thought and meditation.

While I do take much of this seriously, today I’ll keep it on the lighter side . . . the humor of it all. For example, take that task of measuring the rim of that circle – the circumference. In order to do that, mathematicians try to find a numerical relationship between a line and the circle – the line being the diameter. However, it never works out. Computer models go around the clock using advanced math, taking Pi past a billion decimal points and the clock keeps ticking . . . you can’t measure a circle with a line!

When you understand the futility of that it is really quite funny. After all, if you think you can measure the curves with a line, then the opposite should be true. Ever try measuring the diameter with a protractor? Of course not – just seems silly – and yet they try the opposite, and all in such earnest!

Now back to Leonardo, who some claim was a Freemason. Oddly, there is this symbolism that is prominent in one of his most famous pieces, “The Vitruvian Man”:

So there is the circle and the square, but the absence of the letter “G”. I have my own theory on that matter and it concerns a possible “cover up”, which will remain private for now . . . I prefer not to expose all my private parts!

However, I do like to ponder his mischievous ways, and his many questions about religious teachings . . . so I wonder. Is it possible that there are two men depicted in this art? After all, there is a biblical connection. In the gospels there is a frequent reference to two brothers. One is called Simon, whom Jesus often refers to as Peter. The other is Peter, whom Jesus often refers to as Peter.

So there you have it . . . identical twins . . . and on that note, I’ll just stop there, for now, though you may want to “think twice” about the prominence of The School of Athens in the Vatican.

 

 

The Beautiful Game

The other day I watched a documentary on the situation in Brazil. There is a lot of news coverage around here these days concerning the plight of so many underprivileged in Brazil, and in the context of the World Cup, which starts tomorrow.

It was a depressing show. So much poverty and obvious corruption . . . and this is in one of the world’s booming countries?

I’m not going to make this post a political one. It’s certainly not for lack of caring, but more because there are millions out there doing just that.

Instead, I’m posting a new creation, something that reminds me of the hot and colorful images one often sees of Brazil, usually around Mardi Gras days.

It’s the first in a series I’m calling “Sum 14″, short for Summer 2014.This series is all based on a rather large base picture, from which I take smaller components and turn them into separate pieces . . . it’s much more than just cropping . . . you will see that by looking at the larger picture through this link, on one my Pinterest boards, “My Original Art”.

So given the events unfolding in Brazil – the World Cup – it seems only right to call this first in a series “The Beautiful Game”! Here it is, and perhaps in what is often the case with art, it is my expression of a hope for a peace, this time at an event in Brazil. I’m not at all optimistic about that, but at least the picture is somewhat cheery:

Picture called The Beautiful Game