Ordinary Days

Flowers seem intended for the solace of ordinary humanity.
~John Ruskin

I've been working on my garden, planting seeds and hoping and praying that all I plant grows.  I seem to have a great deal of faith when it comes to my garden.  Or, I just enjoy the surprises that spring out of the dirt - or in my case carefully prepared soil. I think the rabbits are enjoying some of these surprises too.  I actually threw a couple of stones at a rabbit hoping she would run off and not nibble on my flowers anymore.  She's eaten my verbena, my marigolds and my lillies.  She didn't budge.  And as my boyfriend said, "Who throws stones at bunny rabbits?" Well, apparently I do when it comes to flowers.  But the bunny didn't budge.  She loves them as much as I do.  I guess I'll have to plant more - some for me and some for the bunny. 


Today, a busy day (but then isn't every day a "busy" day), I'm posting a quote that I need tattooed on my forearm so I can read as I'm speeding through life and sometimes even art.

What makes us truly human may not be how fast we are able to accomplish a task, but what we experience fully, carefully and quietly in the process. - Makoto Fujimura

I know this isn't a new idea, I've written of the importance of slowing down and taking your time before.  But a couple of weekends ago I was reminded once again of this.   I was a teaching a small group of beginning artists how to paint in watercolors.  I kept it simple and had my students paint an apple.  The most important thing I believe for beginners is to help them see - see the light, shadow and how color reflects.  And while seeing transfer the best you can - with a little instruction from me on to your paper.  I find it fascinating how people really enjoy and learn from this fairly simple, slow but thoughtful exercise.  But, I had one student who rushed through, painted the apple, the napkin the wood of the table ...and whatever else he saw and he was finished.  I thought for sure he wanted to shout, "I win".  I pointed out a few elements he missed in his hurry, sat beside him and made him ONLY paint the apple and look at it.  Sure he was a good draftsman but in his hurry he didn't create the best picture he was capable of.  His girlfriend beside him confirmed that he rushes through everything he does.  "He does everything in a hurry, " she said.  That little lesson taught all of us something!  And now I'm wondering can art change life, the every day life? 

With so much around me pulling at me for my time and attention, I have to choose how I will spend my days.  I could kick myself for all the time I spend on the web reading about other artists, or Facebook envying "friends" or even three stations on my "no cable" TV.  Because I want to grow as an artist I need to take the time and do the work and not speed through it saying look how much I got done today.  

Here's a letter from John Mayer that I really like and think he hits the nail on the head like only John can do. 

Greetings from the land of complete thoughts and a strong sense of self worth!

A lot of you are wondering why I decided to quit Twitter. And I’m ready to explain it to you now that I’m off Twitter and can explain anything in a salient manner. It occurred to me that since the invocation of Twitter, nobody who has participated in it has created any lasting art. And yes! Yours truly is included in that roundup as well. Let me make sure that statement is as absolute and irrevocable as possible by buzzing your tower one more time: no artwork created by someone with a healthy grasp of social media thus far has proven to be anything other than disposable.

By now you’ve called up the fail whale and his birdie friends and told them to get their brass knuckles ready cause a fight is fixin’ to go down. But hear me out.

Has any artist, since they’ve begun to give you daily insights into their life created their best work yet? Are the best writers of our time on Twitter? You rip Tina Fey for shitting on the construct but she’s busy penning the best show on television. Aaron Sorkin says he’s never used Facebook, a statement that the guardians of the internet are up at arms over, yet he makes an artistic contribution that the media sites are talking about so much that they’ve developed that gross white stuff at the corners of their mouths. (What is that stuff?)

Those who decide to remain offline will make better work than those online. Why? Because great ideas have to gather. They have to pass the test of withstanding thirteen different moods, four different months and sixty different edits. Anything less is day trading. You can either get a bunch of mentions now or change someone’s life next year.

Hey, I didn’t make the rules. I’m just telling you what I’m pretty sure they are.

I’m not knocking Twitter for those who are trying to make a name for themselves. Some people need all the RTs they can get today. But for those who have already established themselves it’s a slow erosion of the artistic notion.

Great art has survived the changes in technology, from wax cylinder to tape to Pro Tools and beyond, but this is different. This affects the writing, the conception. You want to know the best way a musician can start making shit music? If they start referring to themselves as a “brand.” I’d rather hear an artist refer to themselves in the third person than as a “brand.” Jif peanut butter is a brand. A singer is a soul. People who think of themselves as a “brand” subsequently refer to themselves as “marketing” their “brand”. And when you convert your art into the art of real-time brand management, I suddenly have no more interest in it. I don’t respect marketing alone. Anybody can market something now. And that’s cool. When it’s time to market something.

I’m not a brand, and I don’t refer to myself in the third person. I’m a dude who plays guitar and writes songs. When I’m done writing and recording them I will market them. Luckily for those who are cracking their knuckles ready to knock my point of view, that won’t be for a long while. Because good shit takes a long time.

And this is going to take a very long time.

Currently listening to: everything -JM

... and the WINNER is

...Arden from Oregon!!
Yippeee! Thanks to everyone who wrote me and reads my blog. I hope there is 100 more posts!!!!

The past two days I've been part of a holiday open house at a friend's home here in St. Louis. She makes and sells great beaded jewelry. It was so fun to do because you just enjoy talking to the women and there's no rushing, hurrying pressure to shop and scram like you feel at a mall. You have a glass of wine some crackers, take your time, chat it up with a new friend. It's just a fun experience. I've seen more and more of these holiday shopping open houses spring up and think they are such a great idea. In fact I'm participating in another one in two more weeks!!!! So for the next week I'll be busy painting and matting lots of my pictures.

Last Sunday I decided to take the afternoon and paint once again at the botanical gardens. I can not recall a fall so vibrant and colorful as this one. Maybe because it's the first one I've experienced in ten years. So I gathered my traveling paint kit and off I went. I found a perfect place in the grass - after much looking and pacing - then and set up my little studio in the leafy grass and of course put my ear phones in. It was busy in the gardens and I was somewhat secluded. Usually something fairly odd happens to me when I paint in plein air in a public place. Thankfully only falling leaves interrupted me when they dropped on my paper or on the palette.

A Settling In

You can't go outside without a jacket now. The leaves are showing their colors, finally. And I expect next weekend to be nature's Fall Festival. I need a second blanket on the bed, however I'm determined not to turn on the heat until November 1st. The air and light tells me change is coming and winter is inevitable. It's time to settle in and prepare for the cold months of cozy indoor living ahead. This will be my first FULL winter in nearly 7 years and there is a sense of dread, uncertainty even. Heck, I'm a flower painter - there just aren't many flowers in winter. Perhaps this will push me into areas I've not explored before. I am interested in loosening up and not painting so tightly. I recently met a fabulous artist here in St. Louis - Marlene Lewis. Her work is so full of life, color and freedom. That's where I would like to travel as an artist. I'm hoping to push those limits within myself soon, maybe this winter. I just might not have a choice...

It's been a rough week not just for me, but most of my friends - jobs, health, matters of the heart... I've had a hard time painting this week, and I think everyone who does any craft has a hard time creating when life doesn't seem to be cooperating with your plans, hopes and dreams. After all, when you create you are saying, "look something from nothing!" And quite frankly I've been wondering what can redeem this nothing, these losses, these questions and uncertain times. Press on! Do just a little! I finished this fall still life this week. With very little hearts and even less hope. But still, it was an act of hope and faith which dried up my tears and helped me start a new project.