Eyes of the Heart

Reelfoot-Afternoon Shadows2

 

“I shut my eyes in order to see.” Paul Gauguin (from Skinnyartist.com)

How can one create with eyes shut? Gauguin’s statement would seem to not make any sense. Does he mean painting with a blindfold on? Many paintings out there look as though they have been painted with a blindfold on. Many more look like they need to have been painted with a blindfold on. But is this to be taken literally?

Gauguin, in my opinion, is talking about the heart. Let the heart see with the heart’s eyes. That is a difficult thing to do when the brain’s eyes want to remain in control. There is the natural inclination to recreate in exact detail what is physically present.   It may be necessary to actually close the eyes to get the right visual. It may take practice. It may take concentration to let go of one set of eyes to allow the others to open.

The art of opening the heart’s eyes and allowing them to take over does not necessarily mean losing realism. The heart’s eyes are eyes of feeling, eyes of emotion. Emotion is the spark that lifts realism out of simple recreation and gives it life. Emotion is the spark of any form of art that lifts it out of boredom and lights a fire.

A blindfold is not required to paint with the eyes shut. It just takes getting in touch with the heart’s eyes. Of course, painting with a blindfold may make for new and interesting art. It could even start a new movement in “blindfold painting.” Who knows, it may become all the rage. Anything can happen when the physical eyes are closed and the heart’s eyes are open.

Feeling the Rain

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“Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.” Bob Marley (from Skinnyartist.com)

At the first sign of raindrops splattering on the windowpanes, most people run for cover. Or they unfurl an umbrella and search for the nearest shelter hoping not to get too wet. Still others stay indoors and refuse to come out until the rain stops. What if, instead of running, seeking shelter or staying indoors, people looked up to the dark overcast, forbidding sky and followed Gene Kelly’s example, and began to sing and dance. Instead of running for cover, throw hands up to the sky and let the rain pound down. What if, when the rains pound down on creativity, creative people jumped up and started to dance and sing.

It’s inevitable that the creative spirit will get drowned by daily life at some time or other. How long the drowning lasts, depends on the circumstances. Creative people, like any other group, hunker down and ride out the storm, hoping it won’t wash away too much creativity at the same time. A choice is made to hunker down. Nobody is forced to run for cover or unfurl an umbrella. They just do it because nobody wants to get wet. When it’s raining on the creativity parade, artists console each other and say sweet little nothings like, “don’t worry, the rain can’t last for ever.” What if the rain does last forever? What then?

How about refusing to hunker down? How about leaving the umbrella behind?   How about getting wet? Raining on creativity may be a signal that the artist has not being doing enough singing in the rain. The artist is so busy running for cover that the thought of stopping to sing and dance has never occurred. The next time the creativity parade gets rained on, turn toward the rain and check out what it feels like. Does it taste? Or smell? Tune in. It could be the rain is just watering the next creative idea. Jump in. Play Gene Kelly. And pity the souls who prefer to hunker down while artists are singing, dancing and a lot more than just getting wet. There’s no telling what creation may come from feeling the rain instead of running for cover.

 

Weekend Inspiration–Zentangle

Doodling for meditation and relaxation is becoming popular as way to release the stresses of the day.  And its fun!  Everybody likes to doodle in some way even if its just scribbles.  The Zentangle craze is about using doodling as a form of meditation.  Just watching the video is enough to bring on some relaxation.  If you’d like to give it a try and don’t know how to get started, the video below is simple and easy to follow.  Go ahead!  Jump in if you haven’t already.

Colorful Fridays–Moldy, Oily, Creepy Brown

Slide1 “I cannot pretend to be impartial about colors.  I rejoice with the brilliant ones and am genuinely sorry for the poor browns” Winston Churchill (from Sensationalcolor.com)

Warning to fans of Burnt Umber: this will not be pretty.  Treatises on Burnt Umber tend to be generally polite and seldom stoop to name calling, however unflattering they may be.  Occasionally, a fan may make a positive statement on the warmth of browns made with Burnt Umber.  The most prolific use appears to be in under-painting.  But there in lies the problem.  Burnt Umber’s negative qualities can have a profound effect on an overall painting if used in the under-painting without proper precautions.

The name derives either from the Italian region of Umbria where the clay for the browns known as Raw Umber and Burnt Umber was first extracted or for the Latin word for shade, Umbra.  Burnt Umber is the same pigment as Raw Umber that has been fired to achieve the darker brown.  Sources describe Burnt Umber as a warm brown with reddish purple undertones. For watercolorists, burnt umber is hydroscopic and will hold water, according to Real Colorwheel, which can allow mold to set in.  Yuck!  Who wants a moldy painting?  Well, maybe someone might but I can’t imagine why.  Proper precautions with sealants will prevent this problem.

One paint maker advises oil painters that burnt umber be used in thin layers because of high oil content.  Instead of moldy, the painting is now oily. Oily may be marginally better than moldy, maybe. The best overall take down of burnt umber comes from The Painter’s Log of Timothy Joseph Allen at American Artist in Rome.com.  Allen’s post is titled, “Is Burnt Umber Evil?  Allen spoke with pigment supplier, Kremer Pigmente and others about the problem of Burnt Umber.  From Kremer he received the advisement, paraphrased by Allen, not to use burnt umbers because they “creep to the surface.” After researching the issue and discussing it with other authorities, Allen chooses not to make the final judgment that Burnt Umber is actually evil but has decided to experiment with mixing new browns anyway.

Essential Vermeer.com has a more positive description of Burnt Umber.  Essential Vermeer says the pigment is derived from manganese oxide and iron hydroxide, the basic elements of clay.  The website states burnt Umber became the favored paint for the creating the shadows in flesh tones by Vermeer, Rembrandt and Rubens replacing the green previously used.  Nothing evil in those Masters.  They evidently knew how to tame the evilness.

Burnt Umber is a rich warm dark brown.  Its uses are many when armed with the necessary knowledge.  Some may choose to go that route.  Others may tame the oily problem for oil painters and the moldy problem for watercolorists.  No word on taming the creepiness.  If not interested in dealing with the mold, oil, or creepiness, just go for Van Dyke brown or mix a new brown.  Or go for no brown at all.

Trusting the Magic

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“And suddenly you know.  Its time to start something new and trust the magic of new beginnings.”  Meister Johann Eckhart (from The Painter’s Keys)

What is the magic of new beginnings?  A paraphrasing of the dictionary definition of magic calls it a power that allows people to do impossible things.  “Impossible things” is a wide-open description that could mean anything and everything.  Many artists struggle to create a vision that lives inside.  Freeing this vision feels impossible, insurmountable.  Yet this vision, this inner voice is crying out.  It wants to sing but how?

Sometimes it’s necessary to sweep out all the old visions, the old thought processes.  That inner voice wants to sing but can’t.  There’s too much Old Stuff hanging around blocking the view.  The voice can’t see it’s way clear to freedom, to expression.  It’s easier for an artist to quash the voice than to deal with the Old Stuff.  That Old Stuff has been around a long time.  It’s soft and worn and comfortable.  Anything new would require the work of breaking in.  Who wants to break in the new?  The old is so comfortable.  It’s too much trouble to change. Why bother?

That old stuff is tired, faded and dusty.  Everything it creates will be tired, faded and dusty.  Breaking in the new is a fresh adventure, a new beginning.  Opening a path for the new voice to sing feels impossible but it’s really quite simple.  All it needs is a little trust.  Trust the magic of new beginnings.  Once that voice is free to sing impossible things can happen.  The impossible makes even the oldest rustiest tin can sing like the sweet sound of a meadowlark.   Time to kick that rusty can down the road and let the magic of new beginnings sing.  The impossible is happening.  That old can is being replaced by the sweet sound of a new song.  And that is magic.

Artists in Healthcare–Bloggers Who Know

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“Art washes away from the soul the dust of daily life.”  Pablo Picasso

Picasso’s statement above pops up frequently.  It is a much-quoted line with a depth of wisdom that touches on many areas.  As related to the Arts in Healthcare, the line can literally mean the difference between sickness and health.  No.  I am not saying the arts can replace medicine but they can come in and wash off the dust leaving the pathway clear for healing.  Stress complicates the healing process.  It is a well- documented fact.  Art can relieve stress.  As the arts continue to grow in healthcare where can a person go for more information.  Aside from the big organizations, there are several blogs dishing out the skivvy.

Marti Hand of Creativity in Healthcare is both a nurse and an artist.  On her blog she states, “This blog serves as a platform for my passionate interest in integrating creativity and the creative process (the arts) into healthcare, particularly in the care of patients/clients.”  Hand talks about how the “science and art” of medicine has left off the art part.  Her goal is to bridge that gap by bringing art more into the healthcare setting.  Creativity in Healthcare features articles and important links for those interested in what is happening with creativity in healthcare.

Much has been said about the benefits of the arts with the aging yet few projects are focusing in geriatrics.  Dancing Hands is one blog that directly seeks to bring the arts to seniors.  According to the blog, Laurie Lunsford is an “Interactive Arts Specialist who promotes well-being and community through creative interaction in nursing care facilities.”   She particularly works with Alzheimer’s care.  Lunsford uses sensory stimulation through the arts by spontaneity and self expression and she is passionate about her work.  Read more at the Dancing Hands blog for up to date information on the growing area of Artists in Healthcare for the aging.

 Createquity is a “virtual think tank” and gathering of individuals covering all the basics of Arts in Healthcare.  The stated vision from the blog says Createquity “is a hub for next-generation ideas on the role of the arts in a creative society.”  While they cover more than just the arts in healthcare, quite a bit of the blog is devoted to bringing more arts and creativity into today’s healthcare.  Check them out for a wealth of resources.

The arts are growing in healthcare.  As usual, bloggers are helping to map the way.  These are just a small sample of the bloggers writing on this ever-increasing arts endeavor.  Follow the maps of these bloggers and check out what’s happening as the Arts in Healthcare gradually become an accepted and important part of “washing the dust off our souls” in the healthcare setting.  The field is in the budding phase and is about to bloom wide open.  The bloggers are on top of it.

Vexing Vexations

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“Expectation is the mother of all frustration.”  Antonio Banderas (from Brainyquote)

All artists experience frustration at some time or other.  It is a fact of life.  How one chooses to handle the frustration can make a huge difference.  Or not.  Fantasizing about destruction of another’s artwork may have occurred in the thought processes of some artists at one time or other.  Most people will grumble a bit.  Others will, perhaps, voice a few well-chosen descriptive words.  Some may even take to a blog to spout some derogatory witticisms.  Few will act out of violence toward another artist.

One artist recently vented his frustrations by very publically destroying the one million dollar work of another artist, (see note below).  His frustration was supposedly due to the gallery in question’s statement of intent to support local artists.  The destroyed artwork was by an artist who was not local. While the frustration is understandable, what purpose does violence toward another artist serve?  Or is this a case of civil disobedience?

In Max Ehrman’s famous Desiderata is the quote, “Avoid loud and aggressive people as they are vexatious to the spirit.”  While the frustration is understandable the reaction is quite vexing.  Where does smashing artwork get anybody beyond the “15 minutes of fame” spotlight?  It did call attention to the galleries statement.  That could result in possibly a few more pieces by somebody local.  But long-term change seems doubtful from this bit of destructive violence.

Insight from the blog, Johan Turdenmeier’s Miscellany pinpoints the innate problem with this behavior.  “I wonder when if ever the vexatious person will notice they are the cause of other’s retreat.  If they have any idea that they’re behavior is literally sucking the spirit out of their companions.”  Violence does suck the spirit out of those around it.  The art- smashing artist is probably wondering where his friends are about now.

Had this artist taken the time to examine his frustration a bit he might have come up with a less vexing response.  Organizing a protest would have been a good start.  His friends may have joined him for that.  The publicity would undoubtedly have been more favorable, not to mention the optics.  When expressing vexations it is always better to avoid vexing potential supporters.  Vexing the target problem would have garnered significantly less vexation and possibly led to future reductions in vexatious-ness.  We could all get behind that.

(This account is purposely not reporting the artist’s name or the gallery in order to not assist in perpetuating more of this behavior.   We observe the 15 minutes of fame rule whenever possible. We hope the smasher’s 15 minutes are now over.)

 

If you would like to read more there are accounts at these links:

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/fla-artist-smashes-vase-worth-1-million-miami-museum-article-1.1617638

 http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/wireStory/fla-artist-smashes-1m-vase-miami-museum-22554551

 

More from Johan Turdenmeier can be found at the blog:

http://turdenmeier.wordpress.com/

Mossy, Knife Sharpening Green

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“All theory, Dear Friend, is gray.  But the Golden Tree of Life springs ever green.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (from Brainyquote.com)

Landscape painters, ceramists, make-up artists, soap makers and more love this mossy green pigment.  Chromium Green has been available for two centuries and has recently been discovered in the paintings of J. M. W. Turner dating to around 1812.  Few warnings accompany this lovely green paint reputed to cause only some minor skin irritation in a few people.  Those who eat it could have mild stomach upset so it is probably best not to ingest it.  Otherwise Chromium Green has a wealth of uses.Screen shot 2013-10-09 at 10.14.24 AM

Brittanica reports Chromium Green as having been discovered by French chemist Nicolas-Louis Vauquelin in 1797.    The name derives from its multi-colored compounds.  Merriam-Webster says “Chromium Green is a moderate yellow green that is greener and deeper than the average moss green, yellower and duller than the average pea green or apple green.“ “This natural green provides landscape artists rest in a summer painting saturated with vibrant greens,“ according to Daniel Smith.com. Natural Pigments.com has the scoop on the Turner discovery and is also a great source for purchasing the pigment.

While you are obtaining the pigment for mixing paint, you can also grab a bar of Chromium Green for sharpening your knives and sculpting tools.  A bit of Chromium Green in your roofing tiles will add some UV protection.  If you happen to be considering building a spaceship, Chromium Green can be mixed with other metals for “super high performing aerospace products.”  Or just add it to your camouflage for high infrared reflectance, whatever that might be.Screen shot 2014-02-13 at 10.32.24 PM

For many artists, Chromium Green is a must have for the paint box.  Mossy greens add a wonderful richness in any painting.  Chromium Green is beautiful in ceramics, as well.  Other non-artist fans of Chromium Green may be found on the rooftops fitting the tiles.  Or that spaceship your neighbor is building could feature some bits of Chromium Green in the materials but I wouldn’t get too close.  He may be guarding his spaceship in his infrared reflectant camouflage with the knives he recently sharpened on the leftover Chromium Green.  It’s probably best to stick with the people who only use Chromium Green in artist materials.  Steer clear of the ones with the spaceships and the knives.