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Archive for the ‘Quote’ Category

There can be no failure to a man who has not lost his courage, his character, his self respect, or his self-confidence. He is still a King.

Orison Swett Marden
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It’s fitting that one of the only things I’ve actually finished in this new year should be a painting that I see as a personal motivator. This new piece is a 30″ by 20″ canvas that I am calling Still a King for the time being.

The title is taken from the quote at the top from Orison Swett Marden, who was a writer in the late 19th and early 20th century who focused on inspiring people to make the most of their lives in business. This was the time of Horatio Alger and many rags-to-riches stories, with the world exploding with invention and innovations. Marden was an early self-help writer, trying to motivate would-be entrepreneurs to make the most of their opportunities.

I periodically go through crises of confidence, some shallow and short-lived while others are deeper and a bit more difficult from which to escape. I have observed that when I feel my self-confidence is nowhere to be found, my courage and self-respect are also missing in action. In these deeper ruts, I can only hope my character is strong enough to carry me up and out, at least to a point where those other attributes decide to rejoin the struggle.

When they all come back together I know I will be okay.

And it is that moment that I see in this painting. The Red Tree in this piece represents the coming together of those four qualities: courage, character, self-respect and self-confidence. The path to this point winds through a landscape that goes up and down until it comes to a higher point and the realization that it is still a king , even if its realm is only its own little landscape.

Anyone with those attributes can– and should– walk as a king.

Or a queen.

There was definitely male dominance in the time of Marden and he probably gave little thought to the idea that these concepts, simple and universal as they may seem, would apply to a woman. But times have changed and are still changing, thankfully. There is still male dominance in most fields but if women can hold on to and display their  courage, character, self-respect and self-confidence, they will be queens.

I’ve been an artist long enough to see this evolution take footing in the art world. In recent years, there are more and more women artists coming to the forefront. For me, much of the most interesting work I see is created by women and, more often than not, it is the result of seeing themselves as courageous rulers of their own realm.

And that is a very good thing.

Which leads me to one last epigram from Orison Swett Marden that I think also applies to this painting and what I written here:

Nothing else so destroys the power to stand alone as the habit of leaning upon others. If you lean, you will never be strong or original. Stand alone or bury your ambition to be somebody in the world. 

Now, I only have to put these words into action. Wish me luck…

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Rockwell Kent- The Trapper

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Force against reason: reason, because it has the power

of enlisting force to fight for it, will win.

From the recognition of that truth has come democracy.

 

-Rockwell Kent

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There are a lot of things that could be said this morning, especially with a governmental shutdown taking effect overnight. This shutdown is the symbolic culmination of the political attitudes of the past twenty years that have led us away from compromise and reason as a means of governance.

I am not going to go into my own grievances here. I’ve done that enough. But I will say that for all the anxiety this government produces as it tries to force itself closer and closer to some form of autocratic authoritarianism, I am somewhat optimistic. And that may be because I agree with the premise of the quote above from one of my favorite artists, Rockwell Kent.

I do feel that we are in struggle right now between force and reason, that the direction in which we are being directed via deception and fear-mongering– the force here–goes against the ideals and virtues that we have long professed as the basis for our democracy– reason.  The idea that reason is enduring because it has the ability to enlist those who will fight for the truth of it is reassuring to me and seems to be backed by history.

What we are experiencing is reminiscent of the way other empires have ended, when the beliefs that grew these empires are set aside by rulers who see themselves as being above those ideals and virtues. But I believe we are still a nation with enough reasonable people to resist the forces of greed and nativism that have descended upon us.

And that gives me hope, even on these days that seem so dark. So, thanks for reminding me of that, Mr. Kent.

Here’s a video of some of Kent’s landscape work, primarily of the Adirondacks, Vermont and Greenland. The format of the video is a little cutesy for my taste but it shows a lot of great work from Kent and features the music of Edgar Meyer and Joshua Bell. Have a good day and stay reasonable.

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Silence is not neutrality.

Silence is not a shield.

Silences relinquishes your voice and opinion to others, enabling those who seek power through division, disunity and deceptions.

Silence is the approval that allows dark deeds to exist in this world.

Silence is complicity to the darkness.

In things that matter, silence is surrender. 

 

 

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Hokusai’s Dot

At seventy-three I learned a little about the real structure of animals, plants, birds, fishes and insects. Consequently when I am eighty I’ll have made more progress. At ninety I’ll have penetrated the mystery of things. At a hundred I shall have reached something marvelous, but when I am a hundred and ten everything I do, the smallest dot, will be alive.

Katsushika Hokusai

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I really like the bit of wisdom above from the great Hokusai, both for his optimism on aging as well as the idea that as he continues to progress his work will reach a point where everything he paints– even something as simple as a dot– has a life force within it.

Attaining that life force, where the painting transcends what you have put into it, in any one piece is a rare and difficult thing for any artist to achieve. But that idea that you might one day reach a point where your work has moved from a product of thought and craft to a transcendent expression of the spirit is something that seems beyond our reach or even our aim.

But perhaps we should keep it as an aim in our mind, along with the idea that we will continue to progress as we age, even if it is stored in rarely visited corner.  If we hold on to it perhaps we will subconsciously find our way to that goal. And when we are a hundred and ten, the dots we paint will have that same life force as those created by Hokusai.

It’s something to hope for…

I’ve included a few of Hokusai’s paintings beyond his famed wave and landscapes. I love his fish pieces and the raven is wonderful. Enjoy!

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Max Ernst- Found Objects

Max Ernst- The Entire City

Every normal human being (and not merely the ‘artist’) has an inexhaustible store of buried images in his subconscious, it is merely a matter of courage or liberating procedures … of voyages into the unconscious, to bring pure and unadulterated found objects to light.

Max Ernst
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Max Ernst- Nature at Dawn Evensong

Max Ernst- Temptation of St. Anthony

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I think as an artist it’s very easy to [equate self-worth with artistic success] because of the nature of the work. If you think of art as a job, then your product is so much more than hours invested. The product is a piece of yourself, so of course if the reception is not the greatest, then it can feel like a direct hit to who you are as a person. I think this happened a lot more when I was younger and still finding my way around. I would doubt my direction when a viewer wasn’t thrilled. The trick for me is not to put more distance between my work and myself, but to close that gap completely. I can see myself in the art that I create, and that builds a wall of confidence.

–Hollie Chastain

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I was reading a bit this morning on one of my favorite websites, Brain Pickings, when I came across this quote from contemporary artist Hollie Chastain, a Tennessee based artist who works in paper art and collage. The quote was included in an article about creative blocks and her words really spoke to me.

I liked the idea that at some point there is no gap between the artist and their work. The artist is the work and vice versa. But that term she employed, wall of confidence, really hit home. I see ias being t something that comes with continuing to stick with what you know is true to who you are as an artist and not being swayed by momentary lapses in confidence. It’s a wall that protects you from the peaks and valleys that come in the course of a career, that shield you from those times when you are not the flavor of the month.

It’s a wall that allows you to fight off creative blocks, knowing that you are secure in your own vision and the work that flows from it.

When that wall is there, you– actually, I should be saying I here–just have to get to work. And that is what I am going to do.

Thanks for the good words, Hollie.

You should check out Hollie Chastain‘s work. Good stuff. You can get to her site by clicking here.

I Came to Get Down-Hollie Chastain

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Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Alfred Lord Tennyson
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That’s a resolution I think many of us would happily accept for this new year.

Here’s a little music from the late great Johnny Otis. You most likely know him best for Willie and the Hand Jive but if you get a chance take a look at his bio sometime. An interesting guy. This is his Happy New Year Baby.

So, have yourself a good day and may 2018 mark the return of the power of truth. Happiness and peace to you in this New Year.

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