Tag Archives: culture

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!

Eight Picture about Pictures

Ever since I was a little kid I’ve loved going to the movies. Saturday afternoon matinees were always a treat in my little hometown. In those days we didn’t have to buy popcorn and drinks in the theater. Mr. Ratushniak (the owner) was kind enough to let us stock up on penny candy at the convenience store next door. If you were quick enough at making your choices, you would have time enough to browse through those “detective magazines” . . . it always seemed odd how the detectives had to help ladies who were wearing underwear. You always got a good feel for their dilemma, but you never got to see the detectives . . . good cover I suppose?

So I could never get enough of Sinbad, or Hercules, or The Three Stooges or so many others. As for Barbarella, the closest I could get was the gorgeous movie poster that hung outside the theater for what seemed like months, yet not long enough? I could never understand why that movie wasn’t matinee-worthy, and I was pretty smart for a 12 year-old.

In more recent years I’ve watched a fair number of art-related movies. I don’t even go looking for them, and yet there have been plenty. There have been some fascinating ones and some so-so ones. It’s kind of funny though. I often say that I can’t understand why people who love my art seem to want to know stuff about me . . . the emphasis should be on the art, and not me at all. I just don’t get it. Yet here I am watching these films, totally captivated about these artists’ stories, and paying almost no attention to the art.

Anyways, here’s a partial list of those films. I’m no critic, so I’m just going to list them along with a brief comment. I hope you find something of interest, and by the way, they’re certainly not all bio-pics. If you know of any not on this list, by all means add a recommendation in a comment, and foreign films are more than welcome.

So without further adieu, here’s a list of eight, in no particular order:

  • Klimt, starring John Malkovich
  • Frida, starring Selma Hayak . . . perhaps my favorite in the bunch
  • Renoir – a French film about the artist’s life in his later years, especially his relationship with his son, who went on to be a film director
  • The Thomas Crown Affair – the more recent one with Pierce Bronson
  • The Best Offer – an intriguing mystery about a high-end, reclusive art dealer
  • Tim’s Vermeer – an interesting documentary
  • Girl With The Pearl Earring – a close second in the favorites department starring Scarlett Johansson

That’s it for now. As a final note, I’m surprised that I’ve never come across any film about Leonardo, so if you know of a good one, please let me know . . . and that’s da Vinci, not DiCapprio!

A picture called Learning To Dance

You Look Like You’re Looking For $50!

I’ve spent the past 3 days revamping my web site on Fine Art America.

The galleries have been completely refreshed, much better now . . . you’ll see what I mean if you visit the site. Also, I’ve taken off the smaller print options and added a few larger ones. Each creation is now available in six different image sizes – there used to eight or nine. I’ve also fiddled with the pricing, but nothing major though. In the process, it finally occurred to me how to have a little fun with this holiday craziness, beginning with Cyber Monday.

As of today I’ve dropped my price by $50 on select pictures and sizes.

Here’s the fun part though . . . the savings will only last until Saturday, December 6th. By Sunday morning I will have taken off these savings, at least most of them –  I have no idea which ones will remain! Then for the following week  I’ll do something similar.

Currently this selection includes twelve of my creations as shown in the list below. These are all from my gallery called “Fan Favorites”. If you click on any of the picture titles, you will be taken to that picture on my site (in a new window).

I’ll be letting people know about this offer on Twitter and elsewhere throughout the week, and I do consider this to be one of the few ways to thank you all for tolerating my ramblings, and especially my quirky sense of humor.

Now here is the list, by title and then the size where you will find the $50 savings.

Enjoy the view, and please do me a nice favor and share the news, either through this blog post, or on my art site, or both. I know how easy it is to forget to do that, so please don’t find me rude for asking . . . there are much better reasons for that foundation! ha ha

  1. Commonality – 20″ w x 16″ h    (50.8 cm w x 40.6 cm h)
  2. In the Right Place – 24″ w x 24″ h    (61 cm w x 61 cm h)
  3. Learning To Dance – 24″ w x 18″ h    (61 cm w x 45.7 cm h)
  4. Leaves in Elegance – 20″ w x 16″ h    (50.8 cm w x 40.6 cm h)
  5. Forever Dancing – 20″ w x 16″ h    (50.8 cm w x 40.6 cm h)
  6. Missing You – 16″ w x 20″ h    (40.6 cm w x 50.8 cm h)
  7. Promises – 16″ w x 20″ h    (40.6 cm w x 50.8 cm h)
  8. Shyness Revealed – 21 5/8″ w x 24″ h    (54.9 cm w x 61 cm h)
  9. Sunset on the Beach – 18″ w x 24″ h    (45.7 cm w x 61 cm h)
  10. The Other Way – 20″ w x 16″ h    (50.8 cm w x 40.6 cm h)
  11. Touched – 18″ w x 24″ h    (45.7 cm w x 61 cm h)
  12. Angels Calling – 36″ w x 25 3/4″ h    (91.4 cm w x 65.4 cm h)

Important note: For safe Christmas delivery the order deadline is midnight, Dec. 15th. Also, all orders have a 30-day money-back guarantee.

In the Right Place - art

WTF – Happy Thanksgiving!

There’s so much going on around the world that is so damn troubling. Like countless others, it seems that no matter what one does individually or collectively, these troubles persist. Yet we try.

I’m one of those who in the past few years has tried to avoid “the news”, as in “mostly the relentless accounts of the worse current events”. In fact for me almost everything about what we call “the news” is among the most troubling of our current events.

As hard as I try, one simply cannot avoid some stories, such as the ongoing Ferguson debacle. I usually don’t blog or comment about these terrible tragedies, but for some reason this one has gotten me down more than most . . . I’m reminded of an incident that happened about 12 years ago, in Birmingham, Alabama.

I was there for a few days on business, along with a few others. One evening a co-worker and I decided to go for a walk, check out the city a bit. We were close to downtown, walking distance from the convention center, and there was plenty enough to see and do. In other words, we came across a pool hall.

It seemed like a nice, safe area. It was clean, lots of lights, a beautiful evening, friendly people around, and so on. We felt extra safe when we noticed a few police officers. They stood out partly because they were on bikes, just strolling around. One especially stood out because he looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime. They also had on these skin-tight uniforms – a tight shirt and shorts – at least on of the Village People would be so envious.

A few minutes after seeing these police we were safely inside this nice, clean pool hall. We got ourselves some whiskey & coke and soon the game became so relaxing. In other words I began to kick his ass . . . oh, how I missed my snooker! To make matters sweeter, the music came on. Nice tunes on the jukebox, courtesy of two very attractive young ladies in the corner, the only two others in the place, aside from the bartender. I glanced over. They really were stunning to be honest, especially with their smiles and giggles.

My friend and I continued with our game. Then Arnold entered the hall. I had my back to the ladies in the corner, which is where the policeman was headed. All of a sudden those giggles turned to loud screams. In a horrible flash I turned to see what was going on. The ladies had their arms up and backs arched away from Arnold – a defensive posture. It was necessary because the policeman had a long nightstick raised and extended in his right hand.

In this flash I saw this nightstick begin its downward assault. Almost miraculously, it stopped. No one was hurt. The young ladies left their drinks behind and made a quick exit, visibly shaken but at least not beaten. The officer had his back to us the whole time. I can’t remember if he glanced over in our direction behind he quickly left the place as well.

We asked the bartender what had just happened. She told us that apparently these young ladies did not have any I.D. on them, so it was unclear whether they could legally be in this licensed hall.

My reaction now remains as it was then, and it’s the same for Ferguson, “WTF!!!”

I forgot to mention that these were ladies of color and the officer was white . . . they also appeared to be close to the same age.

Anyway, I can’t stop any of this madness. About the only thing I can do is offer my little sign of peace. It’s not much. It’s just a savings of five bucks, and by that I mean I’m giving away my novel – today and tomorrow – November 26th and 27th.

While the book is about love, it does have its unsettling parts and aspects . . . did I mention fear? Still, overall it’s about the best of humanity . . . at times like these it seems we all need reminders of that means . . . a temporary escape from some of these troubles.

So here’s my Amazon link to “Dawn at Last”. While I know it doesn’t mean much at all, at least it’s a little something . . . a little gift.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends. Finally, to my friends around the world, even those whom I have yet to meet, I’d be honored to have you accept my gift.

Pickled Eggs and Other Food for Thought

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything ethically related, and no, this isn’t going to be about Ferguson or Iraq or the Ukraine or Gaza, or Venezuela or Nigeria or Syria or Afghanistan or whether Germany will export another $60 billion of military “stuff” this year. It’s not even about drones peeping into Vancouver apartments.

This is about life, and the creation of it, or in this case is it best to say the production of it?

I came across something today that has me in a pickle, and it can be a little jarring. It has to do with the bio-mechanical womb, and it seems just around the corner . . . you can read the post here . . .

Would You Grow Your Baby In An Artificial Womb?

Is it just me or are we basically doing everything ass backwards now? By that I mean, “shouldn’t the ethical decisions be covered long before the technology gets this far?” The truth is that for a very long time now, one can always find an ethical justification for anything we are capable of inventing or doing . . . hello folks, everything is allowed! The legal people just put up some rules & regulations to complicate matters further. Still, shit happens!

Please Stay Kosher

When I look at that womb container the first thing that comes to mind is a pickle jar, and it seems everything gets privatized sooner or later? Private or not, who among is worthy to make these decisions? Perhaps none of us. By that I mean how the technology is applied.

So instead of worrying about pregnancy, and stocking up on pickles and ice cream, you will worry about something else. “How is my little Bick baby doing today?” Then as you snap pictures of the work in progress, you ponder, “Shall it be Ben or Jerry?”

I’m one of those who is completely against things like colonizing Mars, and this artificial womb stuff only solidifies that concern. After all, at some point isn’t it all just a little too excessive? When did nature become so irrelevant?

Roll over Beethoven! Another Turner Classic?

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)!

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!

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

 

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”:

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.