In the current climate of young, new, hip artists with fabulous conceptual savvy (and some of them truly deserve the attention), let’s not forget artists and writers who came to their best work later in life, through trial and error.
Think: Louise Bourgeois today in her 90’s, Cezanne in his 60’s, Philip Guston in his late 50’s,Virginia Woolf in her 40’s. Says Robert Frost, who wrote “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” when he was 57:
…it is later in the dark of life that you see forms, constellations. And it is the constellations that are philosophy.
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).
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.
“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.