Fed up with the doom and gloom about the recession, global warming, and rising terrorism? Since they probably aren’t going to go away, perhaps you should read The Optimist, a new book by Laurence Shorter. Over three years, he spent time finding people who make the best of their time on the planet, including Richard Branson, Mick Jagger, and Desmond Tutu.
In his research, he discovered that “optimism” is actually misrepresented. A word coined by 17th century philosopher Leibniz, its original meaning was actually “optimal”, to signify the perfection of the universe as it is now–in other words, being in the moment, and deciding to accept things as they really are.
Interestingly,”Martin Seligman, in researching this area, criticises academics for focusing too much on causes for pessimism and not enough on optimism. He states that in the last three decades of the 20th century journals published 46,000 psychological papers on depression and only 400 on joy.” (Wikipedia).
“I have spent a lot of time in the last two years making cakes while continuing to make paintings. A cake to me is a work of art with the intention of generosity. It is beautiful, it is structural, it is an evocative work of color and balance. And then people eat it. They consume it. They find it too sweet or too sticky or too vanilla-y. And then they move on. This is the generosity of art. Create with intention and then, set it free.”
There is an interesting connection between the accumulation of layers in her paintings, and the strata of her cakes––a sense of play, and the elapsing of time. Well worth a look.
In a public art project by Instant Coffee, our usually ad-wrapped buses have been given a fabulous warm blankie instead, and are they ever fun to look at! Thanks guys, it helps break up the gray days of winter. A review of the project by Robin Laurence is in this week’s Georgia Straight.
While selling off a few items out of my studio today, I had some interesting conversations with various neighbours in my building.
One was a fellow who wanted to buy my cast-off stretched canvas as a gift to an ex-girlfriend, in hopes he could win her back. Is that sweet or what? I hope it works.
Another visitor, an artist, told me about how he “couldn’t get representation in this town”. However, though I enjoyed talking with him, and the work he showed to me displayed talent, dedication and a keen mind, I couldn’t help but think that his cynical outlook may be what is holding him back. He complained that when he was out searching for a dealer, a certain gallery’s staff had treated him rudely–but when he told me he walked in off the street without an appointment and asked the attendant to bring up his website on the computer, I couldn’t help but think that he needs to understand that diplomacy could be part of the battle for him.
People are busy and their time needs to be valued as well as your needs. I started to suggest this to him, but his eyes glazed over. I don’t think he is interested in constructive criticism. C’est la vie. Treat people respectfully, and voila, it is returned to you.
“Voyages en Zigzag” is the working title to my next show, which will be in November 2009 at the Bau-Xi Gallery in Toronto. This time, instead of working from photographs from my travels, I will stay at home (this is the era of a new restraint, n’est-ce pas?) and collect jpegs from friends and acquaintances in my computer’s Inbox. It’s exciting to see a big download coming through the internet line, a good indication that some new, delicious images from someone’s holidays are about to land.
Just received some nice photos from my pals Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby, (shameless name-dropping) who have become quite the jet-setters with animation festivals and such. I also have been fortunate to get permission to use the photos of a quantum physicist who posted his delicious images of Russian palaces on Flickr. I love the notion of a guy who deals in particle theory sending me pixels of objects through the World Wide Web, and then me translating them into paint.
The New Year has been a great time to re-evaluate my process, and think about how to optimize my painting time. Number one: re-connecting with the fact that I have always known I prefer painting on the slick, fast surface of wood to rough canvas. So I’m going to shed all my canvas stock–studio sale, coming up!
I’m about to move to a new, bigger, cheaper studio on the east side of Vancouver–yey! Moving is disruptive to the painting process, but a great time to clean out the clutter, streamline my art supplies, and think about the new work I am planning. I anticipate an explosion of new energy once I get set up and painting again, and looking forward to having a dedicated drawing table separate from my painting table so I don’t have to spend energy reconfiguring the room, and I’m plotting to get a comfy couch (from the free site on Craigslist) so I can really rest when I need to take a break. Right now I have a hard, unforgiving chair, and it’s really no fun. Even though I love it, painting is hard work, so I’ve decided I need to make my time in the studio as pleasurable as possible.
Painters today can do anything they want–witness the work of Gerhard Richter, Gillian Carnegie, and Thrush Holmes.We can choose any subject– the banal, the everyday, the ugly, or (gasp!) beautiful images that people might even want to put on their walls. In my painting practice, I aim to convey the pleasures of looking, and, without irony, I propose that optimism is a viable impetus for painting. Hence the name of this blog.