It’s tempting to write something about Canada’s recent election, which I followed so closely, looking for a glimpse of a return to some form of human dignity. I won’t do that except to say that something quite remarkable happened. It has to do with the newly appointed Minister of Justice. She’s a lawyer, so no surprise there. To learn more you can read her story here.
In an election full of big promises and tons of symbolism, this shines through as much more than a symbol and I wish her well . . . yeah Canada? I hope so.
I’m tempted to write about my little dream, another one about black holes, and the notion that they are impenetrable because they are full of Love . . . intense beyond comprehension, a universal force and something to do with new creation . . . and so love conquers all after all? But conquer is not the right word, as in that place and situation there is simply no fighting allowed. That has always given me hope too.
So in the end I won’t write about anything other the release of a new painting which has turned out to be very, very well-received in all my social media circles. I had been leaning toward launching it as a limited edition print, but instead I’m adding to my selection of Open Edition Prints – see the main menu above.
Perhaps the oddest thing about art is that a lot of people seem more interested in the person doing it than in the art itself. That always makes me think that there must be something wrong with my art!
It’s even stranger that I’ve become the same way in many cases, “Who is this person behind this painting or song or sculpture?” So maybe I shouldn’t be surprised about getting what feels like a lot of personal attention from some very dear fans . . . still, it’s a little unnerving putting one’s self out there . . . often it feels downright narcissistic, but mostly it feels undeserving.
To make matters worse, it seems the blog posts people enjoy most are the ones that include my little blasts from the past . . . those personal little stories.
Time to get out the birthday suit!
So tomorrow is my birthday – 58 and painting like I’m thirty-something – and I wonder if there will be any surprises? I couldn’t get to sleep last night because I was drifting back to so many milestones, in particular this time of the year but 39 years ago. I was the same age then that my youngest daughter is now. She is finishing her university life this term, while I was just beginning mine back then.
That started in Vancouver, at Simon Fraser University . . . it’s on top of Burnaby Mountain, to be more precise. It was a newer school, renown for it’s architecture, designed by Arthur Erickson. It wasn’t a huge university back then – a recluse for the fans of the liberal arts – the smart, driven folks went to the much more conservative University of British Columbia (UBC). That was a long time ago though – I’m sure much has changed since then.
I went there for one main reason. In my youth I was always fascinated by the movies and in 1979 Simon Fraser was the only school in western Canada that any kind of film studies program . . . and a minor at that . . . I majored in psychology.
Yes, I did take one psych course – intro psych – plus a course in intro botany or biology, which I never took in high school, so I damn near failed that one, though I loved all the line art and photography in the text book. There was another intro course that I simply cannot remember and then there was this double course, a six-credit doozer called “History of Italian Renaissance Art”.
Apparently that art course had something to do with the film studies program, though I have no idea what that may have been. What was more apparent was that the man who taught really knew his stuff. Through the term I found out that he was one of the world’s leading experts on the subject, and he had the passion to go with the reputation.
He had all his own slides and we would spend hour after hour in a theater looking at every square inch of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in great detail, while he told us all kinds of stories. In hindsight though, I think we really only grazed the surface on the lives of Michelangelo, Leonardo, Botticelli, and so many more.
Then there was the smaller, once-a-week workshops on more specialized topics . . . I chose the literature one. It was all about some dude named Dante, and myself and about a dozen other became intimate with The Divine Comedy and La Vita Nuova. What I remember most is how Robin (the first name of the professor), would explain who each character was in real life . . . the ones portrayed in one part of Dante’s Inferno.
They represented various merchants, bankers, clergy, and other people in some form of “leadership”. It was all very awful, yet fascinating at the same time. As was Dante’s quest to write about the notion of pure love in La Vita Nuova.
What has stuck with the most over all these years is that the art of that time was very much intermixed with the developments in science and technology . . . the introduction of perspective by Leonardo, for example. This has helped me on a personal level, as I’ve struggled through the years of, “but is it art?”, in terms of being a digital painter.
In the past couple of years that has finally changed – digital art is becoming more mainstream, or at least finally “accepted”. Yet I’m still uncomfortable with that. Frankly I’d like to drop the reference to “digital” altogether and just focus on the art as being simply art.
I don’t see that happening in the foreseeable future any more than I can say that I can just paint and keep my personal stories just that . . . personal, as in “private”. Then again, I suppose I could just write another novel about love and continue to hide a few anecdotes in there? It has not all been a divine comedy, but then is anything funny without a little tragedy?
Anyway, there’s no sense getting too philosophical the day before one’s birthday. Now I’ll sit back and wait for those precious well wishes . . . and the magical surprise of some glorious birthday cheesecake?
Finally, here’s a wonderful clip of a nearby park. It’s the place for where I first got to see a bison eye-to-eye, at the age of nine. We were only about ten feet away, and the gazing was only for a few seconds, but I can still remember it so very clearly. This park is about a 10 minute drive from the town where I grew up (Dauphin) and an hour’s drive from where I’m sitting right now (Brandon). It’s beautiful there. I don’t know that it has influenced my art in any way, but one can always hope.
One of the nicest things about blogging is that you can learn little things about yourself as you go along.
I learned something yesterday, while writing Cast From The Past. It’s a post about a new painting and my sometime-struggles with the naming of such. Even as I was typing that post, a little voice was whispering, and I hope that voice knows that I was listening.
The message was very simple, “You struggle with the names because the painting is not finished.”
So through the rest of day and until about 2:00 in the morning I finished it, and as I sauntered off to bed the name came to me and I smiled . . . yes, it’s perfect, “Light Touches”.
I really like so much about yesterday’s rendition and I will be saving it, perhaps even make it available some day. However, it is this final version that I really love, though I won’t say why. Let’s just say the clue is in the title . . . think of the word touches as a verb, and that’s all I will say on the matter.
As Einstein used to say, sooner or a later a person has to think for themselves. I’m amazed at how this seems to make so many people nervous. Please don’t be one of them. Art can be a precious gift that way . . . an invitation to think for yourself, so please embrace it.
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.
Neutral Colors – Available soon in a limited edition.
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 – 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:
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:
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”
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”.
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?
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:
The Son of Man by Rene Magritte
On the painting’s Wikipedia page, 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.
It’s the feature image here. The bright, playful and curvy figures in the center took awhile to complete – a few days of touching up something that had been at rest for several years now. By Friday night the only thing left was to add some sort of background – at that point I really had no idea what that would be.
For my backgrounds I often browse through several older creations, picked one or part of one, and then play with it using different effects. If you’re familiar with layering that essentially what I did for this background. Sometimes It can be a very simple process, other times not so easy. No matter what, inevitably there is some tweaking involved . . . altering shapes, redrawing, cropping, colors, contrast and so.
If it starts to be a struggle then I’ll stop and reconsider whether I’m on the right path. Over the years that happens often, and that’s when I’ll leave one painting and go on to another. That’s one reason why I have so many unfinished projects. However, more often than not, when I revisit a piece, what was once a struggle can suddenly became an easy labor of love . . . and that’s when something happens . . . I like to call it a little magic.
Friday night had its magic moments.
When it was finished I posted this painting on Twitter, as I like to do to get some feedback, to get a discussion going. It was a really nice reaction, and especially the exchange I had with a fellow artist who loves my work. She judges a lot of art in various shows, and she commented on how she finds my work hard to respond to, though she loves the “gorgeous complexity”.
I told her how I’ve found that my favorite compliment is basically, “I like it but I don’t know why!”I told her that to me it seems pretty simple, but then if I have to explain it . . . “Oye!”
We also talked a bit about those hard-to-explain moments when something special happens in the process, that little magic . . . the “wow” moments. I look for those moments, but mostly wait for them, and definitely cherish them. She understood exactly what I meant.
Finally, often there’s something ephemeral about a piece, something I really want to convey, to somehow pass on to you as a viewer. It is kind of spiritual. We talked a bit about that too, and for some reason it got me thinking about Madonna’s old hit, “Just Like a Prayer”. That link takes to a video of a live performance of her song, and through the course of this viewing, a few minutes before midnight, came the title, “I Want To Take You There”.
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.
How about them apples? I don’t mean the ones for Halloween, just around the corner. Nor do I mean anything about new i-phones and such. I’m talking about gravity here, and eventually about floating apples.
I had my own Newton moment almost ten years ago, sitting near a tree and watching the squirrels at play, and then the cones falling to the ground. For some reason, Newton’s formula for gravity came to mind, as I was taught so long ago. It was an intrusive thought though, as it wasn’t equations that caught my attention in that Eureka moment . . . it was the time of release that got me thinking.
Oddly, it comes back to yet another thing that can’t be measured in nature, such as the precise time when an apple or cone begins it’s descent. In botany I learned a bit about energy in trees, and how with some of this energy the tree holds the apple to the tree. Eventually this energy is not enough to keep the fruit attached, and then it falls.
Just Before the Start of the Fall
That’s the part that fascinates me . . . that immeasurable moment within a moment . . . just before the start of that descent. It is then that the apple floats! There is no energy from the tree holding it back, and the draw of gravity has not yet begun . . . in between the two, the apple floats!
To help you get a better picture of what I’m saying, there is a pretty famous painting by Magritte called, The Son of Man, as shown below:
The Son of Man by Rene Magritte
If you want another visual idea, there’s always Bugs Bunny, especially those countless times where one character or another finds themselves floating . . . here’s just one example.
So for me this is all a comforting reminder of how little we know, in spite of all we think we know. I like that we don’t fully understand gravity. That way we don’t have a hope in hell of synthesizing it, bringing dead planets back to life, and repeating our mistakes somewhere else. When you think about, what really is the point of colonizing a planet that has no gravity, as we have on Earth? It all seems so unnatural, sad really.
Finally, I do believe there is something about love in every such magical, invisible moment, something that exists freely in nature, never to be contained.
For years I’ve thought of this with every naturally falling object, such as all the fruits and cones. Lately I’ve also become quite fascinated with the notion of the sky being full of water, even in the absence of clouds. Now – just last night, while thinking this post through – another thought came to mind. This magical moment within a moment, when apples float, it seems the same is true for every drop of water in the rain . . . and then there are snowflakes!
To end on a lighter note, now I’m wrestling with a bigger mystery. Out of all those raindrops that fall in a pond, I wonder which ones float!
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! 🙂