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art by Lawrence Grodecki

Both Sides

The concert hall was almost full, some 1,500 friends and family there to celebrate a passage of sorts . . . 200 students being awarded their degrees in fine arts. It was special before it began, but even more so when the lights dimmed.

Soon a spotlight shone stage right on this young lady and her harp.  I’ve never heard a harp solo before, so I was caught off guard . . . everyone was, as a collective lump-in-the-throat made its presence known. We all know the power of music and this was another remarkable example. It was joyous yet calming, spiritual in a way, as if the muses wanted to anoint those brave enough to follow their hearts in the name of art.  This is how it seemed as most of the 200 proceeded from the back of the hall down to their position in the front rows.

As I listened and soaked in the sound, I kept my eyes out for my daughter in this march. It wasn’t easy, being over 40 seats away and at the far end of the aisle. I thought I saw her a few times, but no, I hadn’t. So it was a little sad as the last one went by on the far side, knowing that I missed that moment.

As soon as the last student passed, on the closer aisle, some 4 seats away, another procession began. It consisted of the older crew . . . the teachers, special guests, the board of governors and such. They all seemed so tall and stately and formal, and that was all okay. I’m sure glad I paid attention to them. That’s because half way through this entourage there was this tiny, 5-foot tall redhead looking my way, at her family. It was my daughter . . . all grown up. Still, there was her little-girl smile, eyes warmly sparkling in the midst of the formality. As part of her duties as class president She was among these dignitaries as one of her duties as class president. She seemed to know exactly where we would be seated,  so she knew where to look, and with that warm smile and the surprise of it all, another lump appeared.

I took my lumps that day. There were several emotional moments, including two honorary degrees given to the families of two students who never made it through the 4-year program. They died part way through. One of the two knew she probably would. She also knew that nothing meant more to her than spending the final time of her life studying art and being surrounded by those who felt as strongly about it all.

There was also the opening prayer, delivered by an elder of the tribe upon whose burial ground the school was built. I can only imagine the mixture of emotion that this elderly lady must have felt. She spoke so well, commenting on the place of art in culture and its relationship to nature. It seemed she had so much more to say, but this was neither the time or place . . . such bravery, restraint, and beautiful humanity. And she spoke tenderly of wishes.

At the end of the ceremony there was a bit of a tribute to native art. A young lady in a traditional native costume did a dance with rings . . . you probably know by now how I have a warm place for circles and their special mysteries, so this was another heartwarming surprise. These rings were like miniature hoola hoops, just big enough to be twirled around the waist. There were thirteen in all, though she started with one. She danced for several minutes, never missing a step as she added ring after ring, flipping them up with her feet. Like a contortionist she magically interlocked three behind her back, and eventually the same around her waist and legs. From there she spread her arms and swayed her body . . . there it was, the image of a bird, and then a few more animals as the performance moved along.

After that the lights came on, and then there was the last part of the ceremony – a standing ovation for the graduates. I was seated beside my younger daughter, some 24 rows up from the stage. I could just see the tip of my graduating daughter’s head in the second row, on the stage. Still, I impulsively blew her a kiss, knowing she would never know. Well, within an instant she blew me a kiss back, and darned if that lump didn’t come back! That’s what I like about all this wonderful art stuff . . . sometimes the love comes in such surprising ways.

My girls :-)

My girls 🙂

 

 

 

Love In the Air

It’s almost a week since I returned from a most amazing trip. I went to Calgary for a few days to see my daughters – my oldest one just graduated from ACAD, one of Canada’s finest art schools, and so there was her beautiful convocation. The trip was full of love and emotions, shared with both my young-lady girls.

So much happened in just a few days, but most of that is too private to share on a blog post, though I’m sure to write a few more, without all the daddy details, but with some! 🙂

This trip changed me in ways I can’t really explain. It’s funny how I sensed that coming a few days before, including a change in direction with my art. For the past six months I’ve been thinking about that, how to have my art seen and available beyond the virtual world.

Aside from the time with my daughters, I also had time to explore Calgary’s art scene, or at least a few galleries. I met a few wonderful people in the process and I learned a lot, with all of the past half year’s ideas suddenly crystallizing. By the time I left Calgary on Sunday morning I had a much clearer picture of what I must do (want to do) over the next little while, and it’s all quite exhilarating.

So was my drive home, all 14 hours of it. I wasn’t looking forward to it, sad to be leaving my grown children. But then as the drive began I started thinking of them, writing letters to them in my head. Before I knew it the trip home was half over. It was such a nice journey, though I had hardly noticed the big sky and rolling hills around me.

Cloudy Spells

That soon changed on the second half of the drive, and I have to blame that on the clouds . . . the floating popcorn just beyond my reach, teasing me . . . as if they knew how much I love my popcorn!

Quicker than I could spell “cumulous” correctly, it was time for one of those glorious prairie sunsets. Actually, that day (Sunday) was the first time I’d seen the sun since I left home the previous Wednesday. Because I was travelling east the sunset was unfolding behind me, though I could watch it by turning my head 90+ degrees to the left. This can make driving a little dangerous, especially at 120 km/ hour, so I had no other choice to pull over for a while, for a proper view.

As soon as I got out of the car, my mind drifted back to when I was five years old. While my dad drove along a very flat stretch of highway, I was fixated on the view, with a lake in the horizon . . . one that looked as big as an ocean. The body of water was in the shape of an inverted triangle, kind of like filling the bottom half of a martini glass. Even as a child it really struck me, how the water seemed to blend in with the sky. That’s when I playfully squinted my eyes to verify the truth of it.

But this sunset was even more than that. You see, instead of popcorn clouds, there was this amazing, long narrow strip of cloud in the horizon, much like a blanket. Above this strip was the orange light from the setting sun, and below it was a sea of pale blue sky. In the foreground the gently rolling hills gave the perception that I was on higher ground . . . kind of surreal. It felt like was up on a small island mountain, looking down the hills instead of up, and with the view of a blue cove of gentle water, and with another island far in the horizon. That island was actually the blanket-cloud. It was very a very dark grey given its position, and it was like a silhouette of land a few miles away, across from the cove.

If you have followed me for any length of time, by now you will understand how I like to think of nature as an ongoing work of art, though it’s all too effortless to think of it as work. So often I’ve stopped to watch the process, the light and sky changing and picture unfolding. This was certainly one of those occasions.

A few days later I painted this picture below, “Prairie Sunset”, based on that part of my trip. However, it really doesn’t exactly show the island scene I just mentioned. That wasn’t the intent. It does seem to depict the warmth of the emotion . . . not just of the sunset, but of the entire trip. And yes, it does seem to have so much to do with love, including some precious hugs for some very precious daughters.

 

Art by Lawrence Grodecki

Prairie Sunset

I Need To Cover My Ass

I have some bad news today.

Apparently someone in the government noticed one of pictures on Twitter. It’s the one I call, “Not My Best Side”.

I have been ordered to remove the picture from the internet unless I agree to cover the bare bum on the bottom. At first I thought this must be a joke. I mean where else can I cover a bare bum, but on the bottom?

So I asked why. They said they can appreciate how Dali wanted to paint a picture with a woman’s breasts on her back. However, they told me I am not Dali, nor Spanish, and in Canada – in this day and age – this is simply not permitted. I pleaded to be given the option to simply cover the breasts, but the official said the cloth in the picture would not do that sufficiently, but it appears that there is enough material to cover aforementioned buttocks.

Needless to say, I will be taking this up with the Secretary of the External Affairs. In the meantime, in the spirit of civil disobedience, I am continuing to show “Not My Best Side”, as shown below. Today, more than ever, I could use your support by way of your comments on the form at the bottom.

Art by Lawrence Grodecki

Not My Best Side

By the way, now that it’s well in to April, a belated Happy April Fool’s Day!

Art – No Longer Drumming

There is a saying in one of my favorite films. It is an incomplete sentence, yet when you understand it, it is more than complete:

“when the drum is no longer a drum, and drumming is no longer drumming”

For most of my art days I’ve had to defend how I do what I do – using the technology that I do – is it art? Thankfully, in more recent days the art has begun to speak for itself. Real art rises above the means of creating it . . . the drum is no longer a drum. It also rises above the artist . . . drumming is no longer drumming.

That’s the true joy of it, the “selfless part”. It is the best oasis along the journey, and it can be visited in so many ways, not just art. How so? By letting ago I suppose . . . those rare moments where all awareness of self disappears. But it seems to be more than that. Perhaps it is allowing something of the heart in, letting one’s self be a vessel for something beautiful.

In that zone there are no labels . . . no negativity. Things are seen & felt for what they are, not what they called or how that are categorized.

Whatever that is, it is truly amazing how it can persevere and be communicated to another viewer, like music for the listener. I know that’s happened with some of my fans, ones who have the art in their homes. They feel it, we both know it, and if I can, I try not to talk about it too much.

As in drumming, sometimes words may only get in the way.

I’m going to leave it at that for now. Ironically I had prepared a 1,000 word post to touch on the same topic but somehow missed the point. I promised a few people that my next post (this post) would touch on one my latest paintings. It’s called “Pencils No. 9 and 13b”.

Thankfully there really are only a few words necessary. It was a playful project, and its parent image includes a pair of legs . . . but that section kind of looked like pencil crayons. I chuckled, sharpened my on-screen pencil and played a little. It’s all play you know, the selfless aspect. So if you must see them as legs, then see them as legs. If you want to see them as pencils, then see them as pencils.

All I can say is that in creation there is never a dull moment! So here it is, and clicking the image will take you to it’s page on my art site.

Pencils No. 9 and 13b - now on Fine Art America

Pencils No. 9 and 13b – now on Fine Art America

Have a wonderful day, and if you would like to see the Zen drummers that are the basis of that movie, you can watch them in concert as well, or perhaps I should say that you can watch them disappear? I can, and I hope you do.

Why Do I Paint?

Why do I paint? What an odd question to be confronted with, and even odder that this is the first time in 10 years that it has been asked.

This is the query I must answer as part of the application. It’s for one of the better, yet lesser known art sites. I’ve selected it as a venue for my limited edition pieces, partly because of the potential to reach a much larger audience than the one enjoyed by this blog.

It’s a selective site, not like Fine Art America, which is open to everyone. It would be a great place to make my art available because it is genuinely intent on building an online community for art lovers . . . it seems to have a following of people who like to collect art, and not just look at it.

That’s an important distinction. You see, while I’m grateful for having many encouraging fans who love my art, I know that very few will actually ever buy any of it. After all, for most people art is a luxury item and for so many, spending $500 or more on a limited edition print seems to be a big decision, perhaps out their reach. I fully understand and appreciate that.

Finding Love in All the Right Places

Back to that original question, I could answer it in a book, but of course I won’t. As with most of life’s questions, the challenge is to find the simplest answer. This one finally came to me last night, while trying to get to sleep.

I love the process of creating, and occasionally something selfless happens there, and it is magical, and it has something to do with love. In these moments it’s like being inside the picture, where occasionally there is the giving and receiving of a precious hug. It is warm, it’s real, it’s peaceful and it’s the only thing that makes much sense. On top of that, there is the striving – the dream – to somehow send that hug along in the finished piece.

I see that happening more all the time, based on some of the comments and discussions I’ve had with people who love my art, regardless of whether they buy it.

That keeps me going, and as I’ve said many times, as in life, art is essentially about love.

A Friendly Embrace

Finally, here is a preview of my latest completed piece. It touches on the issue of skin color. In a harmonious way, it is also a playful optical illusion. I almost called it “What Color Am I?” but instead the name is, “Color Is Your Friend”. I’m saving it for a later release.

New art by Lawrence Grodecki

Neutral Colors – Available soon in a limited edition.

 

Into The Light

Early in my art adventure, while learning how to do it on screen, I tried a lot of new things. At least they were new to me. Here’s a little story about one 10-year old journey.

One in particular involved scanning sheets of aluminum. First I’d use felt pens to draw on a sheet of foil – more like doodle – and then see how it looked on screen. The bright colors and shine from the foil effect pulled me right in. At the same time I’d learn by doing, such as stretching, twisting, warping my hand-drawn doodles. Here’s how one of those old projects came out eventually, to the point where it was something worth keeping . . . “Into The Light”:

Into The Light - Art by Lawrence Grodecki

Into The Light – 2005

Since this original I have over 70 renditions of this picture, but have never come close to finishing it. I still have all those renditions, and here is the most recent. However, you can’t really see the progress, as it really is in the tiny details. Here’s how the 72nd version looks, as of today:

Current version of a painting

Into The Light – Current Rendition

You probably don’t see much of a difference. However, as I mentioned, there are differences in the details. Here’s a close up comparison to give you a better idea . . . it’s of a small section near the top and center of the bigger picture:

Before and After of Into the Light

 

In this original close-up you can see what appears to be a reddish-brown image of a lady’s head. As often happens with my art, a small part of one picture begets another, so it is very much like a family, and so far this particular parent has at least three children . . . grandchildren remain a dream!

Again, show and tell is the better teacher, so here’s an example of what I did to that young lady’s head . . . this picture was born around 2011:

"Who Knows?" - daughter of "Into The Light"

“Who Knows?” – daughter of “Into The Light”

I named this picture “Who Knows?” based on the truth that I was seven renditions in before I realized that she doesn’t have a nose . . . I was really tempted to leave it at that!

Luckily I poked my nose into her nose, and I’m sure glad I did! With a little magical light surgery, her transformation is now complete. You can see her just below, in my newest release – “Some Once”.

Clicking the image will take you to the details about “Some Once” – now available in a limited edition.

Some Once - art by Lawrence Grodecki

Some Once – Limited Edition of 30 Canvas prints

Finally, as much as I would have loved to get more into some of the mystery about light, it’s simply too much for the post. Besides, I think it also has something to do with Love, so where would one begin and then end? I think you get the picture?

 

 

Fifty Floating Apples

Last summer I wrote a blog post about floating apples – Going Bananas Over Nuts and Apples. It’s a special topic for me, as is gravity and that kind of mystery.

That mystery is imagination itself, where ideas live, play? For me it is without a doubt the most real aspect of the universe, intact beyond anything physical, and fluid more than static. I think some of that is there when the apple floats – when the tree can no longer hold it, and yet just before gravity begins the descent. And I wonder, “Do butterflies “know” something of this, but in a very different, magical way?”

Please keep that in mind, as it may the best way I can describe some of the thinking behind this new painting. It’s called “Floating An Apple” and it was done somewhat with Magritte’s “Son of Man” in mind. Perhaps this is my tribute to his message in that picture, show here:

image of the Son of Man painting

The Son of Man by Rene Magritte

On the painting’s Wikipedia page [1], Magritte is quoting as saying this about his painting:

At least it hides the face partly well, so you have the apparent face, the apple, hiding the visible but hidden, the face of the person. It’s something that happens constantly. Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see. There is an interest in that which is hidden and which the visible does not show us. This interest can take the form of a quite intense feeling, a sort of conflict, one might say, between the visible that is hidden and the visible that is present.[1]

Floating An Apple_Proof2