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Archive for the ‘Quote’ Category

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“The highest reward for a man’s toil is not what he gets by it but what he becomes by it.”

–John Ruskin

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John Ruskin (1819-1900) was yet another of those 19th century British jack-of-all-trades. He was an accomplished artist, social commentator, philanthropist and the leading art critic of the Victorian Age. He was also a prolific writer on a wide variety of subjects, from archaeology to ornithology and everything in between. He also wrote stinging polemics calling for needed social change in Britain at that time. He was the British equivalent of a renaissance man.

Born into a wealthy merchant family, Ruskin may not have experienced much physical labor in his life but he obviously toiled in other ways to have achieved so much in his time on this planet. I think his words above on how we are changed from toil have a certain ring of truth.

I believe there are rewards for hard work that go far beyond the immediate material compensation we receive. It forms our behaviors, our tolerances and our perception of our place in the world. It teaches us what is important and what is not. It gives us focus and discipline and the experience that may one day transform into wisdom. It gives us identity and  purpose.

And it applies for everyone, from clerks to plumbers to scientists to housekeepers. Even artists.

Hard work has been a recurring theme in some of my work over the years. It’s definitely the theme of the painting at the top, Toil’s Reward, which is included in my Moments and Color show now hanging at the West End Gallery. There’s a richness and warmth in the colors of this piece that feels like a reward in itself.

If you come out this Saturday, August 17, to see it at the West End Gallery, say around 1 PM, you can take part in my annual Gallery Talk. I promise you I will be working hard. Maybe even sweating profusely. But hopefully, you will be the one being rewarded, maybe even taking home the original painting that will be given away. Even if you don’t win the big one, there are some other smaller prizes that you have a pretty good chance of getting. And besides that, it’s usually an entertaining time.

Like they say, it’s not hard work if you like what you’re doing.

See you Saturday!

 

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The wind is blowing; those vessels whose sails are unfurled catch it, and go forward on their way, but those which have their sails furled do not catch the wind. Is that the fault of the wind? Is it the fault of the merciful Father, whose wind of mercy is blowing without ceasing, day and night, whose mercy knows no decay, is it His fault that some of us are happy and some unhappy? We make our own destiny. His sun shines for the weak as well as for the strong. His wind blows for saint and sinner alike. He is the Lord of all, the Father of all, merciful, and impartial.

–Swami Vivekananda

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This new painting in my Multitudes series is a 36″ by 24″ canvas and is titled Saints and Sinners. It’s headed out to the West End Gallery this weekend to be part of my solo show, Moments and Color, that hangs there until the end of August.

I came across the words above today from Swami Vivekananda, a 19th century Hindu monk/mystic, and they seemed an appropriate fit for this painting. Looking at this piece, the faces seem to form a sail of sorts, something I hadn’t noticed before this morning.

The imagery of our lives as being boats appeals to me. Like sailors on boats, our decisions set our course. Two boats on the same body of water may react differently on the water due to the actions of the sailor aboard each. Sometimes these are small and subtle actions. Similarly, the differences between the saint and the sinner are often small and subtle.

The saint may let go of anger where the sinner holds fast to it. The saint may see hope where the sinner sees despair. The saint may give mercy where the sinner might seek vengeance. The saint bears responsibility for their own decisions while the sinner places the blame on others for their own mistakes.

Written down, the differences seem greater than they do to the eye. The saint and the sinner may be indistinguishable at first glance. And maybe that is as it should be. We have the possibility of each– saint and sinner– within us. We have all made bad decisions but we live with the hope that we may make better ones in the future.

Like Oscar Wilde said: Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.

Or in the words of Nelson Mandela: I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.

Or maybe there are neither saints nor sinners. Just simple sailors in boats, some running fast and some foundering in their wake.

Hope you’ll stop out and see this new piece.

You can see it if you come to my Gallery Talk at the West End Gallery on Saturday, August 17, beginning at 1 PM. I’m sure it will be part of he discussion and maybe you’ll take home a prize! Details coming soon!

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John Sloan- The Wake of the Ferry I 1907

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You can be a giant among artists without ever attaining any great skill. Facility is a dangerous thing. When there is too much technical ease the brain stops criticizing. Don’t let the hand fall into a smart way of putting the mind to sleep.

John Sloan

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I am a fan many of the Ashcan painters of the early 20th century, such as John Sloan, 1871-1951, whose work is shown here. The painters in this group obviously had technical prowess but you get the feeling from their work that they often operated in that danger zone outside their facilities, relying as much on instinct in the moment as their skill to create their paintings.

As Sloan points out, technical ability is a wonderful thing but also dangerous  for the artist. I love his description of the hand’s ability putting the mind to sleep.

I know that feeling.

I often feel my best work comes from not knowing exactly how the work is going to proceed or where it will end. That sense of danger, that nervous feeling the painting is in peril of becoming included in the next garbage pickup, is a great indicator for me that my instincts are engaged., that my brain is not in the off position.

This is when good things happen, when breakthroughs are achieved, where the work moves beyond you and becomes something of its own.

But it’s all too easy to fall under the spell of your ability, to let your mind doze while your hand takes over.  But obtaining that ability takes years of work and is actually a goal. Why wouldn’t you let this gained knowledge carry your work? That’s a great question and I think every artist has to look at it on their own terms.

I look at this gained ability as tool that I have learned to use. Now, even though I know how to use this tool in a normal, predictable manner, sometimes I need to use it in way for it wasn’t intended. That’s not always the safe way to go but sometimes you find a new way.

And that’s a good thing.

John Sloan- Travelling Carnival, Santa Fe

John Sloan- The Wake of the Ferry II 1907

John Sloan- The City From Greenwich Village

John Sloan- Hairdresser’s Window 1907

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Joy is everywhere; it is in the earth’s green covering of grass: in the blue serenity of the sky: in the reckless exuberance of spring: in the severe abstinence of grey winter: in the living flesh that animates our bodily frame: in the perfect poise of the human figure, noble and upright: in living, in the exercise of all our powers: in the acquisition of knowledge… Joy is there everywhere.

 

—Rabindranath Tagore

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The painting at the top is part of Moments and Color, my solo exhibit currently on display at the West End Gallery. It’s titled An Exuberant Life and is a 24″ by 24″ canvas.

I don’t know that we are living in a time of joy at this point in history. At least, not in a way where one day we as a people will look back and remember it as a golden age filled with good will and There’s certainly an abundance of anxiety, ignorance, anger and about any other negative attribute you can come up with.

I believe that in times like these, we have to actively seek and identify the joy and exuberance that exists in this world. We take so much that surrounds us for granted as we bounce along the bumpy road we’re on at the moment. We find ourselves often blinded by our outrage or so inwardly turned in a defensive pose that we lose track of our surroundings.

Forget to see simple things. A ray of sunlight. The beauty in a tiny paused moment of silence. Tasting the pleasant bitterness of coffee on the tongue.

I could do a long laundry list of my own small pleasures, things that give me a sense of the joys in this world. But they are mine alone. You must find your own. Your list of joys must be your own sanctuary in these times. You’ll know them at once from the feeling of peaceful satisfaction they instill in you.

Maybe finding the exuberance of your own life will influence others to seek their own.

That would be a good thing.

And that’s kind of what I see in this painting– finding one’s joy and affecting the world with it. That is certainly something we could use in these times.

 

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“And He will judge and will forgive all, the good and the evil, the wise and the meek . . . And when He has done with all of them, then He will summon us. ‘You too come forth,’ He will say, ‘Come forth ye drunkards, come forth, ye weak ones, come forth, ye children of shame!’ And we shall all come forth, without shame and shall stand before him. And He will say unto us, ‘Ye are swine, made in the Image of the Beast and with his mark; but come ye also!’ And the wise ones and those of understanding will say, ‘Oh Lord, why dost Thou receive these men?’ And He will say, ‘This is why I receive them, oh ye wise, this is why I receive them, oh ye of understanding, that not one of them believed himself to be worthy of this.’ And He will hold out His hands to us and we shall fall down before him . . . and we shall weep . . . and we shall understand all things! Then we shall understand everything! . . . and all will understand” 

Fyodor DostoyevskyCrime and Punishment

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This new painting is an 18″ by 36″ canvas that is included in Moments and Color, my annual show of new work at the West End Gallery that opens this coming Friday. It was completed for quite some time before I finally settled on a title for it. Every title that came to mind seemed too trite or too well worn for this piece.

The Red Tree and its placement here give me the impression of someone standing before a group while delivering some sort of moral or spiritual instruction. Sermon on the Mount sort of stuff. The setting here has a placid feel and the location of the Red Roofed houses give the impression that they are rapt listeners.

It all gives this piece a feeling of great serenity.

With this in mind, I finally settled on The Homily as a title. A homily is a story that is often part of a religious sermon that demonstrates a moral or spiritual lesson in practical terms and contemporary settings. And I can see that here. Without it espousing the tenets of any religion, it has a spiritual feeling for me, one that serves as a practical illustration of peace and acceptance. It’s as though the Red Tree is calmly telling those around it to see the beauty and tranquility that surrounds them even in times of chaos.

There’s a sense of certainty to this piece that feels religious to me. It’s the kind of certainty I never had for myself or fully understood in others. But looking at this now, I can almost understand that certainty. Its actually beyond religious. I see it more as an inner belief that one has that allows them to remain calm in dire times, knowing that they have the ability to persist.

That even though the world around them changes, that they can adapt and prosper because their core values remains intact.

And maybe what this, a representation of those core values, whatever it is that brings us inner peace and serenity.

It’s early and my eyes and mind are still trying to focus so these few paragraphs may not be a homily. But they are an attempt, like this painting, to point out our need for peace, for those moments of tranquility that allow us to continue onward in a world that often seems out of our control.

Maybe its the understanding that Dostoyevsky speaks of at the top.

Hope you find it for yourself.

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This painting, The Homily, is part of Moments and Color, my exhibit of new work now hanging at the West End Gallery in Corning. There is an opening reception this Friday, July 12, running from 5-7:30 PM. Hope to see you there.

 

 

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“Whereas the beautiful is limited, the sublime is limitless, so that the mind in the presence of the sublime, attempting to imagine what it cannot, has pain in the failure but pleasure in contemplating the immensity of the attempt”

― Immanuel KantCritique of Pure Reason

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The painting shown at the top is titled Sublime. It is a new 24″ by 48″ canvas that is included in my show, Moments and Color, that opens a week from today on Friday, July 12, at the West End Gallery.

I struggled finding a title for this piece for a long time. There was a quality in it that attracted me immensely, that spoke volumes to me. But try as I might, I could never quite put my finger on what exact quality that might be. I just knew that if felt like something bigger than any single emotion. It had, for me, an immensity of feeling.

So, the word sublime came up in my search for a title and it immediately felt right. The feeling I was sensing and trying to describe was sublime, at least in my understanding of the word which put it at a point beyond beauty. Maybe beauty plus several other layers of feeling.

Every word that came to mind seemed limited to one emotional ray but sublime was a wide spectrum of feeling.

It was already titled when I came across the words at the top from the philosopher Immanuel Kant. His idea of the sublime being limitless and beyond our attempts at imagining it described perfectly my own frustration in the struggle to find words for the wide range of feeling I was sensing in this piece.

It seemed a bit like serendipity that the painting’s title was already Sublime. I still feel frustrated in describing my response to this piece but that word, sublime, covers the bases for me.

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Moments and Color is the title for my annual show at the West End Gallery, located on historic Market Street in Corning, NY. The exhibit opens Friday, July 12, with a reception that is open to all and runs 5-7:30 PM. The show is currently in the gallery and available for previews.

 

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Paul Gauguin- The Painter of Sunflowers 1888

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What still concerns me the most is: am I on the right track, am I making progress, am I making mistakes in art?

-Paul Gauguin

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I am in the last day of prep before I deliver my show to the West End Gallery. I am in my 25th year at this gallery where I first started publicly showing my work and this is what I believe to be my 18th solo exhibit. But even with all that experience there is always an element of doubt present when I am getting ready to deliver paintings to a gallery.

It’s just a natural state of being. At least, for me.

I used to worry that my own judgement of the work was flawed and that this would be obvious once it was hung on a wall outside my studio. My inadequacy would be on public display for all to see.

That feeling never fully goes away and on these last days of prep, this insidious doubt always creeps back in.

But time has made me adhere to the words above from Paul Gauguin, under his 1888 painting of Vincent Van Gogh.

You do what you can do. You try to do a bit better each time. You discard those things that don’t work and grow the things that do.

And you live with that.

Okay, got lots to do this morning so I am out of here. And I think I am leaving my doubts right where they are. Don’t need them today.

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