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Without a Net

Daring Starts From Within

Tag / Awareness

Bounteous Largess

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16″ x 20″        Oil on Board        2014

I paint and write go about many of the tasks of daily life with a conscious creative spirit. Since I’ve not had the luxury of a trust fund or wealthy spouse, I’ve come to accept that I’m required to sell myself and my work if I want to make a living from my artistic endeavors. This part I do not love. I would like to run from it.

This is not to say that I don’t like receiving money for my work. It’s the part between finishing a painting or book and seeing it into the homes of collectors that makes me cringe.

I don’t run into many artists who love the selling part of their career, so I know I’m not alone. I’ve had a thousand conversations with artist friends about the awful drudgery of figuring out how to sell our work. But we also concede that it is necessary, and the most dogged of us make a go of it the best we can.

Having to work at getting noticed feels like I’m forcing myself to come off like a big shot when I don’t care about being a big shot. My moose represents this idea, with his headshot pose, his business suit, and his fancy surroundings. I chose St. Basil’s Cathedral in Russia because it is a recognizable famous building with oodles of fanfare. I also liked the way the onion domes point to the sky, like his upsweeping antlers.

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Thou Gild’st The Even

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16″ x 20″     Oil on Board     2017

The elements of this painting emerged from my childhood idea of luxuriousness, one I yearned for then and thought about often. I wanted to wear a fox stole and a satin gown with a string of pearls, and live in a mansion that overlooked a lake with swans. My desires were probably impressed upon me through movies from the 1940s and my high-minded grandmother who liked the finer things in life.

For younger readers, wearing a dead animal around one’s neck may seem like the height of cruelty and disgustingness, but in my day our grandmothers saw these furry ornaments as a symbol of distinction and refinement. When no one was home I’d sneak the coveted carcass out for dress-up, and with lipstick and rouge I’d pretend I was on my way to being the next Hollywood starlet or glamorous socialite.

The stole wasn’t just fun to wear because it was sophisticated. It was also a real taxidermied animal, complete with little teeth. You could feel the bones in its arms and tail. At the same time I got to look like Zsa Zsa Gabor, I was able to snuggle and stroke a real creature that seemed the next best thing to a live pet. That smelly stole kept me company, stoked my highfalutin dreams, and delivered an hour or two of quasi-happiness.

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Curiouser and Curiouser

For those who think my grammar has gone sour, the post title here is a quote by the Cheshire Cat character in the book, “Alice in Wonderland.” (The topic in this week’s Without a Net creativity class was Curiosity.) The pheasant above seems to be gazing into a looking glass, so we seem to be […]

First Class

 

Thy Self Thy Foe

This past Friday I held my first Creativity Class at Red Dot Gallery. It was well-attended by a fun and insightful group, inspiring me to share some of the things we covered and what I took from our interactions.

Highlights of this week’s class

We used the Without a Net Deck to practice analyzing images and sharing our personal take on particular cards. As usual, I was surprised and delighted by the various readings, all different than I’d intended when painting the images. One purpose of the exercise was to observe the change in our mindsets as our focus shifted from out-in-the-world mode to introspective. Analyzing a work of art is an excellent way to make that shift quickly.

I mentioned that Yale medical students are required to go to the local art museums to improve their observational skills by looking at paintings. I’ll be posting about that wonderful subject later. The practice of “reading” a painting will be a regular part of my creativity class, as it helps the viewer develop intuitive skills and stretch their imagination, and generally builds skills at looking closer instead of jumping to immediate conclusions about what is seen. As Yale Medicine Magazine puts it, their art workshops for med students are “valuable in developing essential skills that doctors need, like critical thinking and observational and communication skills, as well as bias awareness and empathy.”

The various readings of the Without a Net cards were touching and informative. It seemed that everyone saw their own tendencies in the images, each revealing the kind of hopes, fears, and questions that open one up to more insight and guidance. I know for myself that when I admit or share something of this nature, I tend to see new realizations in the days after. I related to the readings of each person in the room: about insecurities, mysteries, triumphs, bad habits, and daily life struggles.

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